Skip to comments.Physicists Calculate Number of Parallel Universes
Posted on 10/18/2009 4:06:14 AM PDT by LibWhacker
The strongest limit on the number of possible universes is the human ability to distinguish between different universes.
(PhysOrg.com) -- Over the past few decades, the idea that our universe could be one of many alternate universes within a giant multiverse has grown from a sci-fi fantasy into a legitimate theoretical possibility. Several theories of physics and astronomy have hypothesized the existence of a multiverse made of many parallel universes. One obvious question that arises, then, is exactly how many of these parallel universes might there be.
In a new study, Stanford physicists Andrei Linde and Vitaly Vanchurin have calculated the number of all possible universes, coming up with an answer of 10^10^16. If that number sounds large, the scientists explain that it would have been even more humongous, except that we observers are limited in our ability to distinguish more universes; otherwise, there could be as many as 10^10^10^7 universes.
To work these numbers out, Linde and Vanchurin looked back to the time shortly after the Big Bang, which they view as a quantum process that generated lots of quantum fluctuations. Then during the period of inflation, the universe grew rapidly and these quantum fluctuations were "frozen" into classical perturbations in distinct regions. Today, each of these regions could be a different universe, having its own distinct laws of low energy physics.
By analyzing the mechanism (called "slow roll inflation") that initially generated the quantum fluctuations, the scientists could estimate the number of resulting universes at 10^10^10^7 (a number which is dependent on the model they used). However, this number is limited by other factors, specifically by the limits of the human brain. Since the total amount of information that one individual can absorb in a lifetime is about 10^16 bits, which is equivalent to 10^10^16 configurations, this means that a human brain couldn't distinguish more than 10^10^16 universes.
Requiring that the human brain must be able to count the number of parallel universes may seem inappropriate, if not arrogant, but Linde and Vanchurin explain that dealing with the quantum world is different than our everyday lives in which quantum effects can be safely ignored. A crucial part of their calculation here is an investigation of quantum effects on supergalactic scales. In this kind of scenario, the state of the multiverse and observations made by an observer are correlated (similar to the Schrodinger cat experiment, where the outcome can be determined only after it is registered by a classical observer).
"When we analyze the probability of the existence of a universe of a given type, we should be talking about a consistent pair: the universe and an observer who makes the rest of the universe 'alive' and the wave function of the rest of the universe time-dependent," the scientists write.
As the scientists explain, the calculation of the number of universes is an important step toward an even larger goal: to find the probability of living in a universe with a particular set of properties. What are the chances that we live in a world in which the laws of physics are these laws that we currently observe? Answering this question requires finding probabilities that depend on knowing about other universes, among many other challenges.
I totally agree with President Palin’s decision today to ship off the last of the liberals to the detention colonies in Iran and Iraq. What? Oh, I’m sorry, guess I got shoved into the wrong Universe for a while.
Since Prez Zero took over, I feel I’ve slipped through the space time continuum into one of these many parallel universes.
This is what happens when you do science by calculation instead of science by observation.
What kind of experiments do they use to test this theory?
In what universe do they come up with the right answer?
Forgive me for asking, but if the “universe” consists of all matter, energy, and space that exist, how can there be a “parallel universe”? Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say they believe there are parts of the universe that have not yet been discovered?
These so called scientiests are from a different universe where the human mind determines reality, instead of coping with reality.
Sometimes when crossing a completely deserted street, I think I might get creamed by a car barreling down it in a parallel universe.
How do you know you weren’t? Parallel speaking that is.
The Clown Universe; the same one that has a natural born sneak, cheat and lair for President.
By an uninsured illegal alein, you know a Mexican without insurance. Not a creature from another planet.
Its nothing more than pure speculation that they think can be proven according to our mathematics. Of course, scientists 50 years from now will laugh at such a notion. Man has a nasty habit of always thinking he knows absolutely everything and no future generations could ever possibly know more than they do right now.
Interesting in light of Hugh Everett’s original “Many World’s” hypothesis of the ‘50s, that the universe splits off after each quantum possibility is actually realized rather than canceled out in their circumstances.
Interesting too how today’s M-Theory, in its various interpretations, seems to agree overall.
Yet what bearing could this have on God, which many of these “scientists” seem desperate to nullify even as supposedly not admitting their “belief” in Him?
And so when do we see the calculation of the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin?
10^10^10^7 is a scientific result. Not a very useful one, nor one which can even be described as a bound of any form, but still a nominally scientific result.
10^10^16 is a pseudoscientific result. I’m familiar with the argument behind it, but outside of the fruitcakes in the “quantum consciousness” realm, it is viewed as comedic. The formalism behind it gives rise to numerous internal contradictions within at least three different formulations of quantum mechanics. Their calculation is predicated upon a misapplication of standard quantum theory - evidence of the researchers being educated beyond their intelligence.
Though the fallacy is distinct from these, it reminds me of the argument that nothing exists that is smaller than the maximum resolution the human eye is capable of, or the argument that any process occuring over a timescale too short for human discernment is a process that occurs instantaneously.
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