August 9, 2011 | David F. Coppedge

Is a Multiverse Detectable?

The idea of a multiverse (an ensemble of universes like our own visible one) has been criticized as unscientific because it would be unobservable, even in principle.  Now, however, some theoretical physicists are claiming that bubble universes beyond ours could be detected in the cosmic microwave background radiation – provided they collide with our universe.  Does this bring multiverse theory back into the realm of science?

National Geographic News, posting an article on this idea, said, “The multiverse, if it exists, may have sprung out of a chaotic fluctuation of empty space.”  Chaotic motions from other bubble universes might “bruise” our universe and leave telltale patterns in the cosmic microwave background (CMB).  Matthew Johnson, a theoretical physicist at the Perimeter Institute, with colleagues, is working on an algorithm to find the patterns.

But what to look for?  Sean Carroll, physicist at Caltech, warned that “People tend to recognize patterns whether or not they are there.”  Trouble is, nobody knows what the needle in the haystack would look like.  “Even with better data from Planck” (a new space telescope measuring the CMB in finer detail), “finding evidence of a universe-to-universe smashup is a game of chance, thanks to the nearly infinite possible outcomes.” 

For this reason and the fact that any deviations in the CMB are likely to be extremely subtle, Carroll thinks the quest is “a long shot”.  But the implications would be so earth shattering, he is eager to see what Johnson and team find.

They don’t know what they are looking for, they don’t know what they might expect to find, and they won’t be able to confirm it when they see it.  Imagine looking for a what-not in a pile of whatever, that might leave an infinite set of possible outcomes.  You could claim success and nobody could ever confirm or deny it.  NG unabashedly stated another piece of nonsense: “The multiverse, if it exists, may have sprung out of a chaotic fluctuation of empty space.”  The whatever, if it exists, might have spring out of a chaotic what-not.  Isn’t science wonderful.

The elephant in the room that Carroll, Johnson, Hawking and all the other multiverse advocates are overlooking is the question of ultimate origins.  Even if, in their wildest dreams, in spite of overwhelming odds, they had some basis for claiming that some other bubble is pushing on our bubble, they would merely displace the question of ultimate origins to another location.  Let them start with what Francis Schaeffer called “nothing nothing” – no space, no time, no laws of nature, no fields, no categories.  From absolutely nothing, get them to derive not only a universe, but reasoning beings questioning its origin and destiny.  The folly of such a quest is self-evident.

Exercise.  See if Ethan Siegel in “The Physics of Nothing, The Philosophy of Everything” on succeeded in building a universe out of nothing nothing.  (Hint: philosophy and laws of physics are something.)

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  • RedReader says:

    For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”  (Is 29:14)  How is it that believers in God can be ridiculed for “believing in something we all KNOW doesn’t exist”, and non-believers just laud one another for believing in the multiverse?  This is actually funny!  And so, try to answer these two questions about “the odds”:  1)  What if I don’t believe there is a multiverse and it turns out there is one?  2) What if I don’t believe in God and it turns out there is one?  Hey, it’s a “thought experiment”.

  • LDS Guy 1986 says:

    While I agree that any theory of a Multiverse is only theoretical and not observable making it a area of philosophy not science. I still believe that it can and does exist and coincides with creationism.

    God is all powerful so why is it insane to think that he could or would create more than one universe?

  • CosmosHacker says:

    I guess it would also depend on how one defines “universe” and “multiverse”. If there is a multiverse then universe as understood to be all that exists would be a misnomer.

    I personally believe that the Judeo/Christian God revealed in scripture can create any configuration he wants. We limited humans have a tendency to label things inconsistently.

  • Editor says:

    Some of you are missing the point.  Scientists believe they have superiority over the rest of humanity because they follow some “scientific method” that is supposed to grant their views more credibility than mere opinion or speculation.  If there is no observational evidence for a multiverse, nor any possible way to get such evidence, then they are wallowing in speculation, no matter how many equations they can write or how much jargon they can manipulate.  Their views have no more epistemic status than anyone else’s.  Now if they want to start a cult of the multiverse, they have that right.  Just don’t call it science.

  • pkp2011 says:

    Furthermore, the big bang theory violates the laws of conservation of mass and energy (as well as the others laws of thermodynamics). Thus, a multiverse violates the conservation laws multiple times, rendering the theory that much more useless.
    The multiverse theory is antithetical to Judeo-Christian theology. But I can understand why an LDS person would want to believe in the multiverse theory to try and reinforce the false teachings of their church on eternity where men become gods of their own worlds.

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