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Re: Britain's Astronomer Royal Publishes

From: stig.agermose@get2net.dk (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.



Sunday October 3 1999


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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