The contest (Saturday, April 16) asked: What would be acceptable evidence for other universes? And the prize is a copy of The Nature of Nature , which goes to Brent at 16 (see below).
(Next contest still in progress: Is Richard Dawkins or Francis Collins the cuter poster boy for selling Darwinism? Closes April 30.)
Readers may recall Steven Weinberg’s comment, quoted, that
… There is also a less creditable reason for hostility to the idea of a multiverse, based on the fact that we will never be able to observe any subuniverses except our own. Livio and Rees, and Tegmark have given thorough discussions of various other ingredients of accepted theories that we will never be able to observe, without our being led to reject these theories. The test of a physical theory is not that everything in it should be observable and every prediction it makes should be testable, but rather that enough is observable and enough predictions are testable to give us confidence that the theory is right.- Steven Weinberg, “Living in the Multiverse,” The Nature of Nature, p. 554
Brent responds, in part,
Evidence that other universes exist seems incoherent. The recent debate between Lawrence Krauss and William Lane Craig saw Krauss, a physicist, admit that other universes cannot communicate with us or exert any forces on us. He went on to say, however, that such a postulation could enter the realm of physics inquiry if there were other theories that explained the four forces of nature, but that currently there are none, and he didn’t seem to assume any confidence that any will be forthcoming, excited though he was at the mere thought. As he spoke, he implied that even if physicists had a solid theory to explain and whereby the forces of nature could be understood, that even then it would take a leap of strained conjecture to show that there is any evidence for the existence of other universes.
But, Dr. Krauss’ statements themselves don’t show the incoherence of the idea of evidence for other universes. They merely show that even those who most want to prove that other universes are likely, or even possible, don’t really hold out any hope that they will, or can, ever have evidence for them. The “can” is where the incoherence comes in.
Brent needs to apply to email@example.com regarding the prize. His would be a good response to bookmark for the future.
Other responses of interest:
Gil Dodgen at 1: … “I’m sorry to state the obvious, but Steven Weinberg, despite the Nobel Prize in his discipline of theoretical physics, is a real lightweight outside of that discipline.”
Neil Rickert at 2: The evidence for X as a theory, is that X provides highly coherent picture of the facts that are available. It’s a bit like the evidence for a crossword puzzle – that everything fits so well is very persuasive, but it does not prove that there is no other solution where everything fits even better.
JDH at 4: I heard Richard Dawkins is a believer in the multiverse. So I have always wanted to ask him, “‘Richard, does there exist a universe where I ask you, ‘Do you believe the universe had an intelligent designer?’ and your answer is ‘Yes’.”
And follow up question, “Why is this not that one?”
bornagain77 at 9 and 10 offers William Lane Craig resources on the multiverse.
Mung at 13: What would be acceptable evidence for other universes?
If I could murder Andrei Linde, kill Martin Rees’ dog and eat it, and no one got upset about it because hey, it was bound to happen in some universe and apparently it just happened to be this one, and what they heck, in some other universe they are all still just fine.
That might just be enough evidence to satisfy me. [Rethink your dinner plans anyway. – UD news.]
rpvicars at 14: Oddly enough, of the 1,000,000,000,000+ universes that border ours, one of them is exactly like ours, except it is 7 days earlier and I hadn’t yet obtained a copy of The Nature of Nature. After travelling there in my Delorian, I observed that I did not win the contest. Therefore, me not winning the contest is proof that at least that universe exists in addition to this one. And for two universes that are exactly seven days apart and in which I have/don’t have The Nature of Nature, to exist, obviously there must be an infinite number of others. (Actually, I’ve been to many others and have kept 7 of them that were small enough to fit in the trunk of my Delorian…but you’ll just have to take that by faith).
I was rather bummed in that other universe after learning of my loss, but I won’t be in this universe because I’ve already got a copy of The Nature of Nature. [Steve Weinberg and Don Page, check your mail. Proof at last. – UD news.]
And happy contesting to all. Don’t forget the next one.