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Multiverse: Recent studies suggest that some alternative universes “may not be so inhospitable” – assuming they exist


Here’s a recent exercise in cosmological imagination – or science fiction, if you like: In “Looking for Life in the Multiverse: Universes with different physical laws might still be habitable” Scientific American Magazine (December 16, 2009) By Alejandro Jenkins and Gilad Perez make clear what is and is not accepted in science (as they understand it) and why:

The laws of physics-and in particular the constants of nature that enter into those laws, such as the strengths of the fundamental forces-might therefore seem finely tuned to make our existence possible. Short of invoking a supernatural explanation, which would be by definition outside the scope of science, a number of physicists and cosmologists began in the1970s to try solving the puzzle by hypothesizing that our universe is just one of many existing universes, each with its own laws. According to this”anthropic” reasoning, we might just occupy the rare universe where the right conditions happen to have come together to make life possible. Amazingly, the prevailing theory in modern cosmology, which emerged in the1980s, suggests that such “parallel universes” may really exist-in fact, that a multitude of universes would incessantly pop out of a primordial vacuum the way ours did in the big bang. Our universe would be but one of many pocket universes within a wider expanse called the multiverse. In the overwhelming majority of those universes, the laws of physics might not allow the formation of matter as we know it or of galaxies, stars, planets and life. But given the sheer number of possibilities, nature would have had a good chance to get the “right” set of laws at least once. Our recent studies, however, suggest that some of these other universes-assuming they exist-may not be so inhospitable after all. Remarkably, we have found examples of alternative values of the fundamental constants, and thus of alternative sets of physical laws, that might still lead to very interesting worlds and perhaps to life. The basic idea is to change one aspect of the laws of nature and then make compensatory changes to other aspects.

Our work did not address the most serious fine-tuning problem in theoretical physics: the smallness of the “cosmological constant,” thanks to which our universe neither recollapsed into nothingness a fraction of a second after the big bang, nor was ripped part by an exponentially accelerating expansion. Nevertheless, the examples of alternative, potentially habitable universes raise interesting questions and motivate further research into how unique our own universe might be.

Well, the supernatural may be “outside the scope of science,” but universes whose existence is not demonstrated, which are imagined principally to get out of a jam with the evidence from this universe, are reasonably doubted, despite thought experiments. The tentative tone here is well justified. It should be used more often.

Also, just up at Colliding Universes, my blog on cosmology and philosophy and such:

American Physical Society reacts to physicist Hal Lewis’s accusation: APA “…has accepted corruption as the norm”

Exoplanets: The planet with 100% life has 0% existence?

See other multiverse stories here.

See other fine tuning stories here.

I think there are an infinite number of Santa Clause universes within the multiverse - one Santa Clause for each of the infinite number of children within. Can you imagine the exponential number of elves? CannuckianYankee
Parallel universes is just evolutionary blather attempting to divert the problem they have in explaining the origins of the existing universe and life on earth. By throwing billions of years and universes into the equation they attempt to find an argument that explains why there is something instead of nothing and why we are here in the first place. (Note that by nothing I mean NOTHING, not empty space; empty space is something.) They are only pushing their problem farther away; from reality into the realm of fairy tales. Let them try to explain the non-existence of Santa Claus. aedgar
Maybe there is even an universe with the RNA world? Nooo.... gpuccio
In one of the multiverses Richard Dawkins is a fundamentalist evangelical. ellijacket
I like your style Collin. :) above
to above That's very funny. Since there are infinite universes, there MUST be one with Santa Claus. And one where a benevolent god created life on a planet just like ours with a being whose tag name is "above" and a person named "Collin" commenting on his previous comment. Collin
"given the sheer number of possibilities..." I've never heard a more presumptuous statement. How does he know there's even one possibility? He presumes what he hopes to prove. Collin
And how is postulating a multiverse, which can't be tested in our 'natural universe, not 'supernatural'? They also seemed to innocently omit the fact of the numerous constants that they had to adjust in precise ways to even get to a universe that could perhaps, possibly, maybe, host life,,, though they readily admitted they had no idea what that 'life' would look like in their 'hypothetical' parallel universe: notes: Prof. Henry F. Schaefer cites several interesting quotes, from leading scientists in the field of Big Bang cosmology, about the Theological implications of the Big Bang in the following video: The Big Bang and the God of the Bible - Henry Schaefer PhD. - video http://www.metacafe.com/w/5222493 Entire video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSThtmA1J_U "The Big Bang represents an immensely powerful, yet carefully planned and controlled release of matter, energy, space and time. All this is accomplished within the strict confines of very carefully fine-tuned physical constants and laws. The power and care this explosion reveals exceeds human mental capacity by multiple orders of magnitude." Prof. Henry F. Schaefer - closing statement of part 5 of preceding video Anthropic Principle - God Created The Universe - Michael Strauss PhD. - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4323661 “If we modify the value of one of the fundamental constants, something invariably goes wrong, leading to a universe that is inhospitable to life as we know it. When we adjust a second constant in an attempt to fix the problem(s), the result, generally, is to create three new problems for every one that we “solve.” The conditions in our universe really do seem to be uniquely suitable for life forms like ourselves, and perhaps even for any form of organic complexity." Gribbin and Rees, “Cosmic Coincidences”, p. 269 Dr. Bruce Gordon - The Absurdity Of The Multiverse & Materialism - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5318486/ BRUCE GORDON: Hawking irrational arguments - October 2010 Excerpt: What is worse, multiplying without limit the opportunities for any event to happen in the context of a multiverse - where it is alleged that anything can spontaneously jump into existence without cause - produces a situation in which no absurdity is beyond the pale. For instance, we find multiverse cosmologists debating the "Boltzmann Brain" problem: In the most "reasonable" models for a multiverse, it is immeasurably more likely that our consciousness is associated with a brain that has spontaneously fluctuated into existence in the quantum vacuum than it is that we have parents and exist in an orderly universe with a 13.7 billion-year history. This is absurd. The multiverse hypothesis is therefore falsified because it renders false what we know to be true about ourselves. Clearly, embracing the multiverse idea entails a nihilistic irrationality that destroys the very possibility of science. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/oct/1/hawking-irrational-arguments/ bornagain77
Well maybe Santa Claus is inhabiting one of those universes. Is there a way for me to get there before Christmas? above

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