What is a multiverse? The idea that the universe we live in is just one of many parallel universes evokes a superhero. “Dr. Strange in the Multiworld of Madness” the latest film based on Marvel comic book characters.
And according to c Brian Greena theoretical physicist from Columbia University, allocating screen time for a multiverse is not so bad – even if the plot has some twists and turns in horror movies.
“I think it’s very good when some of these ideas come up in different ways,” Green says in the last episode. Science fiction podcastwhich focuses on areas where science and technology intersect with fiction and popular culture.
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“Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” shows the multiverse as something in between an entertainment home and a haunted house. One scene shows a magician and his protege descending through a dizzying sequence of universes as if they were falling through a kaleidoscope.
The idea of traveling from one parallel universe to another is one big thing the film is wrong about, Green said.
“It’s not something that comes naturally from math,” he said. “I have to say that there are different flavors of the multiverse. … The vast majority of them are not that I could get on a rocket ship and go and visit another universe in the multiverse.
So why do physicists think there are other universes? Green said that additional dimensions and parallel universes provide ways to make sense of theories that would not make sense without them. For example, equations that describe space-time work most elegantly when expressed in terms of 10 or 11 sizesrather than the three spatial dimensions and the only dimension we perceive.
Dark energy – the diffuse force of repulsion, which seems to accelerate the expansion of our universe – also causes a cosmic mystery that could explain the multiverse. “When we use observations to determine how much of this dark energy [is] filling the space, the number we get is really odd in natural units. It’s like a point-zero-zero-zero … 122 zeros and one, ”Green said.
Why such an odd non-zero number? “In many of our theories, each of the universes inhabiting the multiverse will have some dark energy, but the number will vary from universe to universe,” Green said. “And so if there are enough universes, then one universe among this huge collection will have as much dark energy as we observe.”
It is possible that some of these universes may be approximate to our own, perhaps with 2 instead of 1 at the end of this 123-digit string. And in that case, there may be different versions of Brian Green and Alan Boyle talking about Earth-838 version of Dr. Strange’s film.
“If my particular collection of particles repeats itself there – including the particles that make up my brain, make up my memories, make up my thoughts – then this collection of particles somewhere out there in the multiverse will think it’s me, and it really will be me.” said Green. “When people hear that, they think, well, now we’re in Crazyville.”
Can future discoveries put multiverse theories on a firmer footing? One possibility is this studies of cosmic microwave background radiation – sometimes called the afterglow of the Big Bang – will point to anomalies that suggest the collision of two universes.
Green said the Large Hadron Collider that is preparing to smash protons together at record energy levelsserves as the “best example” of an experiment that can provide evidence of additional measurements.
“The idea was to hit the proton against the proton. From the debris that is formed, mathematics suggests that some of this debris may come out of our dimensions and get into other dimensions. And if it happened, we would know it, because the wreckage takes away energy, ”he said.
So far this has not been noticed – but can something jump out at higher energies? “We don’t know what data they’ll find,” Green said.
Like Dr. Strange, Green seems to be able to get involved in the mysteries of the multiverse. The the current focus of his theoretical work relevant to the statistical distribution of different types of possible universes. And he’s also working on a film adaptation of his latest book, “Until the end of time” (which I wrote about 2020).
“This book for me is a true synthesis of a lifetime of reflection on questions that are certainly scientific, but also include questions that we as humans have asked since we could ask questions.” said Green. “Like, why are we here? What is the nature of consciousness and what is really religion? … Where is the universe moving when we look from today to the future, and what does this tell us about the things that are most important to us? ”
Deepening into such issues could bring Brian Green the title of Dr. Strange in some parts of the multiverse – and I told him so.
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” he replied with a laugh.
Check it out Brian Green’s website to learn more about his life and work. Green is a co-founder and chairman World Science Festivalengaged in production online video presentations on field research topics during the coronavirus pandemic and may resume a schedule of personal events as early as this fall.
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Main picture: Dr. Strange in the movie “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Source: Marvel Entertainment.