Not at the Economist, anyway. It’s mid-August and the pop science is in full bloom:
The idea of inflation was proposed in 1979 by Alan Guth. In the years after Dr Guth published his idea Andrei Linde extended it to suggest that the universe emerged from what he called an inflationary field. But if this field can spawn the universe humans see, there is no reason why it cannot spawn others. There is also no reason why the universes so spawned should have the same laws of physics as one another. Indeed, there is quite a good reason why they should not.
This reason was worked out a decade or so ago by several physicists, including Leonard Susskind, of Stanford University, and Martin Rees, Britain’s Astronomer Royal. They observed that the equations of string theory, the deepest sort of explanation for the way matter and energy are organised into particles and fields, have a lot of possible solutions. Some correspond to what observable reality has to offer. Most do not. But Dr Susskind and Lord Rees suggest that those other solutions do describe reality in other universes.
This idea is intellectually pleasing because it bears on a puzzling problem: why are conditions in the observable universe so finely tuned to the needs of mankind? Fiddle only slightly with some of physics’s constants, such as the strength of electromagnetism or the strength of the force that binds atomic nuclei, and the resulting universe would be unable to sustain humans, or anything resembling them (see chart).
The fine-tuning problem, as this puzzle is known, is solved by some by the invocation of a Creator who made things just right for people to evolve. If universes are commonplace, though, and the rules that govern them vary, then the fine-tuning problem—and thus the need for a human-friendly Creator—vanishes. It is no longer a fluke that at least one universe has the right conditions for intelligent life to emerge, since there are also zillions that do not. And it is inevitable that any intelligent life which did evolve would observe that it lived in a universe whose physical laws were just right to support its existence.
Type-two multiverses, then, offer an answer to the fine-tuning problem. More.
No evidence for any of this is offered, but the critical thing to see is that none is sought. The pop science crowd is much happier with speculation than evidence.
See also: Copernicus, you are not going to believe who is using your name. Or how.
Good and bad arguments for fine-tuning? Many, though not all, of these fine-tuning arguments have no way to measure the domain, and without that, specifying the range doesn’t turn it into fine tuning.
Why, according to some, we are justified in believing in the multiverse even if there were no actual evidence in favour of it because it is the only known theory that is in principle capable of explaining certain aspects of our universe. (Yes, that’s an online echo you are hearing… 😉 )
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