I don’t know how many of you have ever seen the sci-fi action thriller starring Jet Li titled The One.
The movie postulates the idea of multiple universes (the multiverse) and that all these different dimensions are held together by a single animating stream of energy equally distributed throughout every living thing in that multiverse. If an individual dies in one reality, the energy that belongs to him or her gets redistributed between the remaining versions of that person…thus they become stronger. In the film, evil Jet Li (Gabriel Yulaw) an officer of the “Multiverse Authority” tasked to protect the different timelines, is actually killing other versions of himself off so that he can become The One – the ultimate being of power. The film centers around what happens when he tries to take out the only remaining version of himself left – Gabe Law.
Ah, the very stuff of science fiction eh?
Or is it?
Astronomers and scientists are now beginning to suspect that this rather stolid source of many a science fiction story may, in fact, be science fact.
Yes, as in the film, they call it the multiverse, a cosmos in which there are multiple universes. And by multiple, that means an infinite number of uncountable realms sitting side by side in higher dimensions that our senses are incapable of perceiving directly.
Yet increasingly astronomers and cosmologists seem to be invoking the multiverse to explain puzzling observations. And as you can imagine, the stakes are rather high. Each alternate universe carries its own different version of reality. There will be one where you are the President of the United States; one where I am the world’s most successful and celebrated science fiction and fantasy author; one where everyone – but everyone – knows Victoria’s Secret, except for Chuck Norris. (Amazing eh?)
It might sound farfetched but the latest evidence that could favor a multiverse reality comes from the UK’s Royal Astronomical Society who recently published a study on the so-called cold spot, a particularly cool patch of space seen in the radiation produced by the formation of the Universe more than 13 billion years ago.
The cold spot was first glimpsed by NASA’s WMAP satellite in 2004, and then confirmed by ESA’s Planck mission in 2013. It is supremely puzzling. Most astronomers and cosmologists believe that it is highly unlikely to have been produced by the birth of the universe as it is mathematically difficult for the leading theory – which is called inflation – to explain.
This latest study claims to rule out a last-ditch run-of-the-mill rationalization: eg, that the cold spot is an optical illusion produced by a lack of intervening galaxies.
One of the study’s authors, Professor Tom Shanks of Durham University, told the RAS, “We can’t entirely rule out that the Spot is caused by an unlikely fluctuation explained by the standard theory of the Big Bang. But if that isn’t the answer, then there are more exotic explanations. Perhaps the most exciting of these is that the Cold Spot was caused by a collision between our universe and another bubble universe. If further, more detailed, analysis … proves this to be the case then the Cold Spot might be taken as the first evidence for the multiverse.”
Heady stuff. But the irony is that if there is a multiverse, scientists will have to accept that the ultimate goal of physics – to explain why our universe is the way it is – could be forever out of reach. Why? Because in a multiverse, every combination of physics would be possible. That means things like the speed of light, the mass of an electron, the strength of gravitational interaction and the popularity of Star Wars would all be variable, dependent upon which reality you existed in…Okay, the Star Wars reference is pushing it a bit.
Do you have a headache yet?
Makes you wonder if a “Multiverse Authority” wouldn’t be a darn good idea to police what the heck we might have to deal with if this theory proves to have substance, eh?
In any event, it’s early days yet. Maybe there are different versions of us out there, maybe there aren’t. Maybe the cosmos really is on its own and we just have to accept it. Certainly, there are many who are willing to defend the multiverse as a valid direction for thought.
Me? I think it would be fantastic to live in a multiverse, because not only would that mean a version of me would be an award-winning author, but somewhere out there, another me would be married to Kate Beckinsale. (Easily identifiable by the permanent grin on his face.) (I hate him already.)
Source material: UK Royal Astronomical Society – Scientific America