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Parallel Universes Beguile Science

From: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates.nul>
Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2007 10:36:00 -0500
Archived: Mon, 31 Dec 2007 10:36:00 -0500
Subject: Parallel Universes Beguile Science

Source: PhysOrg.Com - Douglas, Isle Of Man


December 30, 2007

Stranger That Fiction: Parallel Universes Beguile Science


Philip Pullman screenplay writer of The Golden Compass film
arrives for the premiere of the film The Golden Compass November
2007 in Londons Leicester Square Odeon cinema. The specter of
shadow worlds has been thrown into relief by the December
release of "The Golden Compass," a Hollywood blockbuster adapted
from the first volume of Pullman's classic sci-fi trilogy, "His
Dark Materials".


A staple of mind-bending science fiction, the possibility of
multiple universes has long intrigued hard-nosed physicists,
mathematicians and cosmologists too.

We may not be able - as least not yet - to prove they exist,
many serious scientists say, but there are plenty of reasons to
think that parallel dimensions are more than figments of
eggheaded imagination.

The specter of shadow worlds has been thrown into relief by the
December release of "The Golden Compass," a Hollywood
blockbuster adapted from the first volume of Philip Pullman's
classic sci-fi trilogy, "His Dark Materials".

In the film, an orphaned girl living in an alternate universe
goes on a quest, accompanied by an animal manifestation of her
soul, to rescue kidnapped children and discover the secret of a
contaminating dust said to be leaking from a parallel realm.

Talking bears and magic dust aside, the basic premise of
Pullman's fantasy is not beyond the scientific pale.

"The idea of multiple universes is more than a fantastic
invention - it appears naturally within several scientific
theories, and deserves to be taken seriously," said Aurelien
Barrau, a French particle physicist at the European Organization
for Nuclear Research (CERN), hardly a hotbed of flaky science.

"The multiverse is no longer a model, it is a consequence of our
models," explained Barrau, who recently published an essay for
CERN defending the concept.

There are several competing and overlapping theories about
parallel universes, but the most basic is based on the simple,
if mind-boggling, idea that if the universe is infinite then
logically everything that could possible occur has happened or
will happen.

Try this on for size: a copy of you living on a planet and in a
solar system like ours is reading these words just as you are.
Your lives have been carbon copies up to now, but maybe he or
she will keep reading even if you don't, says Max Tegmark, a
cosmologist at MIT in Boston, Massachusetts.

The existence of such a doppleganger "does not even assume
speculative modern physics, merely that space is infinite and
rather uniformly filled with matter as indicated by recent
astronomical observations," Tegmark concluded in a study of
parallel universes published by Cambridge University.

"Your alter ego is simply a prediction of the so-called
concordance model of cosmology," he said.

Another type of multiverse arises with the theory of chaotic
inflation, which tells us that all these parallel worlds are
expanding so rapidly - stretching further and further in to
space - that they remain out of reach even if one could travel
at the speed of light forever.

Things get even stranger when one brings the often counter-
intuitive laws of quantum physics into the picture, these
experts say.

In a landmark paper published in 1957 while he was still a
graduate student at Princeton University, mathematician Hugh
Everett showed how quantum theory predicts that a single
classical reality should gradually split into separate but
simultaneously existing realms.

"This is simply a way of trusting strictly the fundamental
equations of quantum mechanics," says Barrau. "The worlds are
not spatially separated, but exist as kinds of 'parallel'

The borderline between physics and metaphysics is not defined by
whether an entity can be observed, but whether it is testable,
pointed out Tegmark.

There are many phenomena - black holes, curved space, the
slowing of time at high speeds, even a round and rotating Earth
- that were once rejected as scientific heresy before being
proven through experimentation, even if some remain beyond the
grasp of observation, he said.

He concluded that it was becoming increasingly clear that
multiverse models grounded in modern physics could be
empirically testable, predictive and disprovable.

c. 2007 AFP

[Lead from Stuart Miller @ http://www.alienworldsmag.com]

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