From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Stig Agermose) Date: Mon, 04 Oct 1999 00:46:03 GMT Fwd Date: Mon, 04 Oct 1999 16:32:52 -0400 Subject: Re: Britain's Astronomer Royal Publishes Britain's Astronomer Royal Publishes Controversial Book On Multiple Inhabited Universes Source: The Sunday Times. Stig *** Sunday October 3 1999 NEWS: BRITAIN Answer to the meaning of the universe is six Jonathan Leake Science Editor THE astronomer royal has boldly gone where few astrophysicists have dared to go before. Sir Martin Rees has unveiled a new theory that we live in a Star Trek-style cosmos in which our universe is just one of millions existing in parallel - many of which could harbour other forms of life. In a new book, which has caused controversy even before publication, he has also suggested that there is no such thing as empty space; that our universe could exist in a bubble destined to be crushed by the implosion of a much larger universe surrounding it; and that future civilisations could find a way of creating miniature black holes, within which entirely new universes could grow. He also hints at universes populated only by insects. Rees, professor of astronomy at Cambridge University, is internationally renowned, but is generally seen as conservative. His book shows this is a mistake. "I know not everyone will agree with my ideas," he said this weekend, "but a lot of people will talk about them." Even the title of his book, Just Six Numbers, is provocative. It claims the essence of the universe is determined by six constants - all of which have to be right to allow a universe in which life was possible. The numbers include the relative strength of the forces binding atoms compared to that of gravity. If gravity had been even a fraction stronger, he argues, our universe would probably have lasted a short time before imploding. If life had evolved in that time, it would have been restricted to the size and shape of insects, the only organisms able to withstand high gravity. In a profession in which suggestions that the universe may owe its existence to a benign creator are often treated with derision, Rees also notes that the fact that all six numbers are so "finely tuned" may be the first real evidence collected by astronomers for the existence of God. He is, however, careful not to go too far down that road, preferring an alternative, but equally controversial, suggestion that there is an infinity of other universes, most of which are sterile. More are being continually created, he suggests. According to this theory, the huge number of universes created meant that sooner or later one of them would have the "six numbers" at exactly the right values. He calls his new vision of the cosmos the "multiverse". He argues: "Our big bang may not have been the only one. Separate universes may have cooled down differently, ending up governed by different laws. This is a natural deduction for some (albeit speculative) theories and opens up a new vision of the universe as just one 'atom' among an infinite multiverse." Dr Victor Clube, an astrophysicist at Oxford University, said Rees's theories were merely a fashionable construct that would not stand the test of time. "There is no evidence for other universes. He is just using the theory as a way to explain our existence without recourse to religion. But, without evidence, believing in other universes is just as unscientific as believing in God." ** Copyright 1998 Times Newspapers Ltd. This service is provided on Times Newspapers' standard terms and conditions. To inquire about a licence to reproduce material from The Times, visit the Syndication website.
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