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We would like eventually that those are predicted by some other theory. The example I use in the paper is the distance from the Earth to the sun. The fact that the force goes like 1 over the radius squared is a consequence of the underlying theory. So you might say, well, I want to predict the radius of the Earth. And Kepler tried to do this and came up with a very nice geometric construction, which almost worked. The same laws that give our solar system with one Earth-to-sun distance will somewhere else give a different solar system with a different distance for the planets.

How does the possibility of a multiverse affect how we interpret the numbers in the Standard Model? So then you could actually ask the scientific question: What if the numbers in the Standard Model were slightly different?


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Like the mass of the electron or the charge on the electron. One of the surprises is, if you make very modest changes in these parameters, then the world changes dramatically. Why does the electron have the mass it does? If you make it three times bigger, then all the atoms disappear, so the world is a very, very different place.

You would not have any chance of having life in such a universe. Are there other changes in the Standard Model numbers that would have such dramatic effects? My own contribution here is about the Higgs field [the field that is responsible for the Higgs boson ].

New Theory Suggests Parallel Universes Interact With And Affect Our Own Universe

It has a much smaller value than its expected range within the Standard Model. My collaborators and I were the ones that pointed that out. So about six combinations of the parameters are constrained anthropically. That is an old idea known as the anthropic principle, which has historically been unpopular with many physicists. To not consider them would also be unscientific.

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The modern version of it, with the multiverse, is more physical in the sense that if you do have these differing domains with different parameters, we would only find ourselves in one that allows atoms and nuclei. So the causality is right. The parameters are such that we can be here.

The modern view is more physical. What we can know may depend on things that may end up being out of our reach to explore. The idea that we should be searching for a unified theory that explains all of nature may in fact be the wrong motivation. Does that mean the multiverse changes some of the questions that physicists should be asking?

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And we have to realize we may not be able to get the ultimate theory because we may not be able to probe enough of the universe to answer certain questions. I have to admit when I first heard of anthropic reasoning in physics my stomach sank. How does it change the questions that we ask? And to say that the multiverse is not science is itself not science. But it does raise long-term issues about how much we could understand about the ultimate theory when we can just look locally. The ground state is the state that you get when you take all the energy out of a system.

You probably live in a parallel universe. Here’s why.

The ground state is described by the Standard Model. Its ground state tells you exactly what particles will look like when you put them back in; they will have certain masses and certain charges. You could imagine that there are theories which have more than one ground state, and if you put particles in this state they look one way and if you put particles in another state they look another way — they might have different masses.

The multiverse corresponds to the hypothesis that there are very many ground states, lots and lots of them, and in the bigger universe they are realized in different parts of the universe. In the early s, German astronomer Johannes Kepler sought a mathematical theory for explaining the distances of the six known planets from the sun. By embedding one within another, Kepler showed that their dimensions roughly corresponded to the planetary distances.

Some scientists today think that the properties of the universe are similarly not determined by a formula, but they differ in different realms of space composing a multiverse. Two features have to happen. You have to have the possibility of multiple ground states, and then you have to have a mechanism to produce them.

Making sense of many universes

In our present theories, producing them is easier, because inflationary cosmology has the ability to do this. Finding theories that have enough ground states is a more difficult requirement. Is there one, is there two, is there a lot? The string landscape is one of the ways we know that this [multiple ground states] is a physical possibility. You can start counting the number of states in string theory, and you get a very enormous number, 10 to the Yet few people have even heard of the parallel universes, or thought about the philosophical and ethical implications of their existence.

The free will question arises because the equations of physics are deterministic. Everything that you do today was determined by the initial state of all the universes at the beginning of time. But the equations of quantum mechanics say that although the future behavior of all the universes are determined exactly, it is also determined that in the various universes, the identical yous will make different choices at each instant, and thus the universes will differentiate over time. Say you are in an ice cream shop, trying to choose between vanilla and strawberry. What is determined is that in one world you will choose vanilla and in another you will choose strawberry.

But before the two yous make the choice, you two are exactly identical.


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  7. The laws of physics assert it makes no sense to say which one of you will choose vanilla and which strawberry. So before the choice is made, which universe you will be in after the choice is unknowable in the sense that it is meaningless to ask. To me, this analysis shows that we indeed have free will, even though the evolution of the universe is totally deterministic. Another philosophical problem with ethical implications is the Problem of Evil: Why is there evil in the universe we see? We can imagine a universe in which we experienced nothing bad, so why is this evil-free universe not the universe we actually see?

    If Hitler had never taken power in Germany, there would have been no Holocaust. Is it plausible that a universe with Hitler is better than a universe without him?