Saturday, October 17, 2009

What's in your Universe?

Per a request from Autumnforest in my previous post, I'm going to attempt to analyze a theory of multiverses presented in an article on phsyorg.com.  I've read about various theories of multiverses and parallel universes before, but I will go ahead and admit that I've never given it a great deal of thought, and what I have read about them has been mostly relegated to a footnote in my mind.  As such, this may be a rather feeble attempt to analyze the article, but I am nevertheless going to attempt an analysis of it anyways.

The idea of a multiverse has been visited numerous times in the Stargate franchise of television shows.  There are numerous times when the characters find themselves in an alternate reality where things are different, or are visited by an alternate version of themselves from another reality.  In my own life, I have sometimes wondered when making a difficult decision what might happen if I had made the opposite decision.  How might things be different?  Would they be better or worse?  On some occasions, I've also wondered if there isn't alternate version of me who made the opposite decision and is living the life I might have lived if I had made that decision.

It's an intriguing concept, but I doubt its true.  I don't think that it's impossible that it could be true, but it just doesn't seem to fit for me.

To help me write the rest of this post, I'm going to cite some comments from the end of the article.

Here is what 'dmw' wrote:
hm, maybe I've forgotten what my 8th grade science class taught me. I always thought a scientific theory needed some evidence to support it. Am I missing something?
Similarly, 'RobertKLR' had this to say:
So it's settled, there are multiple universes and no proof is required? Maybe I should be laughing at the messenger instead of the subject material.
And here's another from 'frajo':
Non-falsifiable statements are non-scientific statements.
A legitimate theoretical possibility is not equivalent to a scientific theory. "Legitimate" is not a scientific term.

Before I go any further though, here is some clarification from 'ReeseJ2':
Bear in mind that it does say "theoretical possibility", not "scientific fact". All that means is that, theoretically speaking, the concept of multiple universes is not inconsistent with what we do know about physics.
As to frajo's comment, and many others on this thread, I would respectfully point out that the claim "it is possible that our universe is one of many" is distinct from the claim "our universe is one of many". This result, then, can be stated as "IF our universe is one of many, THEN there are at most this many other universes." Furthermore, I agree that it seems strange to use the human brain as the model of an observer--but quantum physics itself reserves a special place for the observer. I think it's valid.
Although ReeseJ2 makes a valid clarification here, that clarification isn't really a refutation of the point being made by the other commenters.  One observation I've made about science, especially theoretical physics, is that some theories are built upon other theories.  If someone were to say that, theoretically, there is a god named Zeus that exists, then someone else could then add on to that by explaining lightning as Zeus throwing lightning bolts from the clouds.  The second theory rests on the first theory as a foundation.  So if the first theory is wrong, then the second theory must be wrong too.  And not only that, part of the evidence to support the secondary theory is that it isn't inconsistent with the original theory!

The multiverse theory presented in that article rests on the Big Bang theory.  So if the Big Bang theory is wrong, then the multiverse theory must be wrong too.  So I guess you have to first ask yourself if you think the Big Bang theory is correct.  Personally, the Big Bang theory doesn't impress me, and I think it's a rather feeble attempt to explain the origin of the universe.  So for me, if the multiverse theory is based on the Big Bang theory as a foundation, I don't give it much credence.

But, some people like the Big Bang theory.  The problem is you don't really have a way to prove it one way or the other.  You can't prove it happened, but who can prove it didn't happen?

Let's look at one more comment, this one from 'HiFlier':
So far the assumption in this article and threads has been that there was ONE big bang. Over an infinite (or very long) period of time perhaps MANY Big Bangs occur, each leading to a different number of universes. This would obviously push the number of universes much higher. Prove me wrong!
So if one could occur, why not more than one?  If so, does that mean there's potentially not just one multiverse, but multiple multiverses??  Can you prove him wrong?  Can you prove there wasn't more than one Big Bang?

A scientist (don't remember his name) one time asked the Dalai Lama what he would do if they proved that reincarnation didn't exist.  The scientist was somewhat surprised when the Dalai Lama said that they (the Buddhists) would say people should not believe in reincarnation anymore (I guess the scientist was expecting the Dalai Lama to try to defend the belief in reincarnation regardless).  But, the Dalai Lama then asked the scientist how he would prove that reincarnation didn't exist.  The scientist didn't have an answer.

So I guess you have to ask yourself whether you believe in reincarnation or not.  Can you really prove whether it exists or not?  So with that in mind, the Big Bang theory isn't that much different than a religious belief.  Sure, there's equations and scientific jargon attached to it, but ultimately, you can't prove that it really happened.

The multiverse theory is intriguing, but I don't think its true.  But...I can't prove that it isn't!  I also don't think there is another me in another universe somewhere.  I'm pretty sure it's just me.  Anybody other than me is...someone else.

But the multiverse theory isn't completely without value.  It's made for some interesting episodes of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis.    J

3 comments:

  1. Bravo! I think you make a very good point. I admittedly don't believe in deities and am not sold on big bang or even evolution, so I'm probably not a good person to talk to about the idea of multi universes. I've always thought that if big bang occurred, it's more than likely that we were spat out of a black hole from another universe and the black holes in our universe create other universes. I think that's about the best way to make big bang fit for me as far as life coming from "nothing." We still have the issue of the original source of the bang and substance from another universe might explain it to my thinking... This is probably why I never studied philosophy.

    I agree about having a bad theory to start and expanding on it with subsequently weaker and weaker assumptions. I run into the same thing in the ghost hunting world and it's very aggravating when people say "a ghost is the soul of a dead person who's trapped here." Huh? And then people add on more assumptions, such as "a ghost is trapped here and needs to go to the light," or "he uses your batteries to get energy to form." (doesn't explain why power plants don't have ghost invasions).

    I think it would be egocentric of us to assume that, if such a thing as multiple universes exist at the same time, that we have multiple "us" running around in them. That's where it gets ridiculous. If you believe in alternate dimensions, then life forms would certainly differ. There wouldn't be a time when you were born in all the universes at the same time and charted different courses. That's man's whimsy.

    I really liked your debate and I had a feeling you'd have a stand on the concept and I always like to see how your mind works. Thanks for accepting the mind bending request.

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  2. For me, the origin of the universe is simple, if not complex. God created the universe. People then often ask the question of where God came from, but God didn't come from anywhere, God always existed. I realize the concept of 'always existed' is difficult to grasp, but is it anymore difficult to grasp than the idea that there was once nothing, then suddenly...there was something? And not only that, the original 'something' was also non-intelligent? That's why I think the Big Bang theory is absurd. I think science took a huge step backwards when they started using the Big Bang theory. I wonder where the progress of science could be today if they hadn't have taken that step backwards?

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  3. I agree that science (and religion) tends to jump on a bandwagon--both are sheep/leader mentalities with folks afraid to dispute anything of their contents/beliefs. I won't dispute your belief in an intelligent deity. That would be as impossible to prove as big bang or any other theory. It seems obvious to me that even if everything were a series of mistakes that led us to this complexity, it would statistically be impossible. However, there does appear to be some intelligence in the process of life that it can root out survival and adaptation to have the necessary components for unbelievably complex tasks. If you look at the human body, alone, it's staggering to imagine what we would be if our ears weren't shell-shaped to pick up soundwaves. It also makes me wonder, had we adapted in other ways, the senses and abilities we might have had. Such an intriguing thing. I think we're still quite in our infancy of understanding the science that forms our universe. We know almost nothing at this point and we probably won't progress more if we don't get past some of the people who are fearful of knowledge because it contradicts their beliefs. For now, I'm pleased just coming up with some theories and conjecture and finding ways to discredit it and knock it off the list so the list gets a bit shorter. I'm really enjoying your blog. I respect where you're coming from and I think that you're not shy of exploring all the possibilities out there which makes you a good egg in my book.

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