In “Beyond space-time: Welcome to phase space,” (New Scientist, 08 August 2011), we learn: “A theory of reality beyond Einstein’s universe is taking shape – and a mysterious cosmic signal could soon fill in the blanks.”
Okay, Contender #856, say on:
Physicist Lee Smolin at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, doesn’t think so. He and a trio of colleagues are aiming to take relativity to a whole new level, and they have space-time in their sights. They say we need to forget about the home Einstein invented for us: we live instead in a place called phase space.
Smolin? Heard the name.
So what is phase space? It is a curious eight-dimensional world that merges our familiar four dimensions of space and time and a four-dimensional world called momentum space.
More. Where’ve we heard the name Smolin before … ? The Perimeter Institute’s Smolin was last heard from crediting Richard Dawkins for this inspiration: has speculated that new universes might erupt within cosmic black holes. The new universes are disconnected from our universe because the laws of physics break down in black holes. That is why we don’t know about them. But Darwinian evolution accounts for them:
It seemed to me that the only principle powerful enough to explain the high degree of organization of our universe—compared to a universe with the particles and forces chosen randomly—was natural selection itself.
He adds, tellingly,
I believe more in the general idea that there must be mechanisms of self-organization involved in the selection of the parameters of the laws of nature than I do in this particular mechanism, which is only the first one I was able to invent.
– Lee Smolin, “A Theory of the Whole Universe” in John Brockman, ed., The Third Culture (New York: Simon and Schuster Touchstone, 1996), p. 294.
One wonders whether Einstein went about things this way.
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