The observable examined

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I finally got around to listening to a really wonderful interview with Brian Greene on Fresh Air. 

Some of the themes discussed

  • String theory is science bordering on science fiction, but some science fiction does become science fact over time.
  • multiverse – multiple universes, our universe is one of many universe populating a grandiverse
  • Possibility of the same interview in another universe?
  • Universe is infinitely big, but matter can only arrange itself in a finite number of ways. (deck of cards example)
  • Assumes physics on earth holds everywhere in the cosmos (support : we can look out to billions of light years and it all seems to hold)
  • origin and evolution of cosmos – (a variation on the multiverse theme) inflationary cosmology. big bang theory. Does not tell us what happened at time zero. Repulsive gravity. many big bangs.creates many universes.does not rule out that the same laws hold in these other universes.

(My color commentary)

Seemingly crazy idea justified as working with the arcane math inaccessible to common folk(math is a sure footed guide to how the universe works). Visiting  these parallel universes possible through mathematical journeys.

Following this there is a really intriguing discussion on quantum mechanics and its ramifications.

  • quantum mechanics. not relevant to larger things but is important at the smallest scale
  • probability vs Newtonian determinism
  • QM says you can only predict the likelihood of where a particle will be. How do we go from probability to a definite outcome. Physicists do not understand this yet.
  • Hugh Everett postulated really two parallel universes (one particle here and one there).Every experience is based on particles. Every possible reality happens in its own universe.

The multiverse notion is highly controversial.Because there is no way to interact or prove multiverse existence.

A ginormous revolution if multiverse theory is  true. (following the trajectory of copernican revolution to discovery of  multiple galaxies and our sun being one of billions of like stars) leading to “fantastic upheaval of our understanding.”

There is also an excellent discussion of  the macro scale (theory of gravity) to microscale (quantum mechanics) and where the twain shall not meet necessitating string theory. The discussion sort of culminates with the grand unknown of all “What is time?”

All in all, highly recommended listening. Guaranteed 34 minutes of intense cognitive pleasure. (Terri Gross is a really fabulous interviewer too).

As I was listening to it, I couldn’t help thinking how theologians and charlatans (at least the eastern sort) must be licking their chops, falsely assuming that multiverse theory affords them some scientific fodder, to fit the fantasies of yore and recast them as very deep and prescient understanding of the nature of the grandiverse.  The Sai Baba like and Siddha believers, if they latch onto this, will go on a rampage treating this new enlightment as complete validation of their far out beliefs. I can also see the now spin doctor Deepak Chopra profiting even more from weaving this into his healing sermons.

I also couldn’t help thinking our personal lives span many universes depending on the role we play. Also, our mental universes, inspite of the same physical reality, are sufficiently different, that they may as well be independent universes.

At any rate, all of this thinking is as far out as the science itself.

I am reminded of three quotes I heard somewhere on the radio or read it someplace.

Time exists so that everything does not happen at once. Space exists so that everything does not happen to me.


Life is what happens when you are making other plans.

Written by asterix98

March 4, 2011 at 3:46 am

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