Man-made universes 4

Great fun – the idea that our universe was made by people like us.

Dr John Gribbin, astronomer, thinks it possible. Writing in the Telegraph, he even suggests how we – that is to say, some among us – could make universes too.

Is our universe a designer universe? By this, I do not mean a God figure, an “intelligent designer” monitoring and shaping all aspects of life. Evolution by natural selection, and all the other processes that produced our planet and the life on it, are sufficient to explain how we got to be the way we are, given the laws of physics that operate in our universe.

However, there is still scope for an intelligent designer of universes as a whole. Modern physics suggests that our universe is one of many, part of a “multiverse” where different regions of space and time may have different properties (the strength of gravity may be stronger in some and weaker in others). If our universe was made by a technologically advanced civilisation in another part of the multiverse, the designer may have been responsible for the Big Bang, but nothing more.

As with much else in modern physics, the idea involves particle acceleration, the kind of thing that goes on in the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. …

To create a new universe would require a machine only slightly more powerful than the LHC – and there is every chance that our own universe may have been manufactured in this way.

He goes on to explain how it’s possible using black holes, which “are relatively easy to make”. He quotes Alan Guth of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who has “investigated the technicalities of ‘the creation of universes in the laboratory’, and concluded that the laws of physics do, in principle, make it possible”.

Dr Gribbin asks: ‘How likely is it to have happened already?”

While the intelligence required to do the job may be (slightly) superior to ours, it is of a kind that is recognisably similar to our own, rather than that of an infinite and incomprehensible God. And the most likely reason for such an intelligence to make universes is the same for doing things like climbing mountains, or studying the nature of subatomic particles – because we can. A civilisation that has the technology to make baby universes would surely find the temptation irresistible. And if the intelligences are anything like our own, there would be an overwhelming temptation at the higher levels of universe design to improve upon the results.

This idea provides the best resolution yet to the puzzle Albert Einstein used to raise, that “the most incomprehensible thing about the Universe is that it is comprehensible”. The universe is comprehensible to the human mind because it was designed, at least to some extent, by intelligent beings with minds similar to our own.

Read it all here. Enjoy.

Posted under Science by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, August 31, 2010

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