Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hello, and welcome to Colliding Universes!

First, if you just want to read some stories and don't care why I started this blog, here are links to stories I have already posted:

A friend fondly recalls physicist John Wheeler

Life on Mars?: Yes, when the Mars Hilton Convention Centre finally opens

Sure as the law of gravity, you say? Okay then, better check the refund policy ...

Stuff I have written elsewhere on the bleeping multiverse, for which the multiverse (Inc.) is suing me for defamation ... But not to worry, the writ went to zillions of wrong universes.

Now ...

What is this blog about?

As noted top left, I want to write a book with a physicist that explains why the multiverse - the idea that there is an infinity of flopped universes out there - is a crock. (He would say the idea is "deeply problematic.")

Some publishers - mine in particular - think that no one would be interested because everyone who could care less knows that the multiverse is a crock, dreamed up to avoid confronting the significance of the fact that our universe is exquisitely fine-tuned for life.

I disagree, because I have noticed that the concept is becoming quite mainstream, as this abstract for a recent talk by Neil Turok at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics shows:
The evidence that the universe emerged 14 billion years ago from an event called \'the big bang\' is overwhelming. Yet the cause of this event remains deeply mysterious. In the conventional picture, the \'initial singularity\' is unexplained. It is simply assumed that the universe somehow sprang into existence full of \'inflationary\' energy, blowing up the universe into the large, smooth state we observe today. While this picture is in excellent agreement with current observations, it is both contrived and incomplete, leading us to suspect that it is not the final word. In this lecture, the standard inflationary picture will be contrasted with a new view of the initial singularity suggested by string and M-theory, in which the bang is a far more normal, albeit violent, event which occurred in a pre-existing universe. According to the new picture, a cyclical model of the universe becomes feasible in which one bang is followed by another, in a potentially endless series of cosmic cycles. The presentation will also review exciting recent theoretical developments and forthcoming observational tests which could distinguish between the rival inflationary and cyclical hypotheses.
What mainstreams the multiverse is the prospect of getting tested. But that raises the question - if a fair test shows that there is no multiverse, what about our own universe's exquisite fine-tuning?

I contend that a vast and exceptionally brilliant market out there would love to read a book by a physicist explaining why this is a deeply problematic idea, co-written by a person whose language level is stuck at "crock."

So, thank you for patronizing this blog. You are helping me win the argument with a publisher. (The physicist is too busy to blog, but he thanks you all the same. The physics ideas are all his.)

Our book will - in some ways - resemble The Spiritual Brain, which I co-authored with Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard (Harper One 2007) , explaining why materialist neuroscience is a crock.

In what ways will it resemble The Spiritual Brain?

It will be fun and funny as well as hopeful and illuminating.

In what ways will it not resemble The Spiritual Brain?

It will use lots of examples, anecdotes, and illustrations from science fiction, for inventive but accurate explanations. The Spiritual Brain mostly uses other interesting stuff.

My other blogs

The Mindful Hack supports The Spiritual Brain, and non-materialist neuroscience generally.

The Post-Darwinist supports By Design or by Chance?, detailing events in the exploding intelligent design controversy.

Heck, you can even be mad about - or enjoy - my first book, Faith@Science: Why science needs faith in the 21st century (Winnipeg: J. Gordon Shillingford, 2001):

Why no Comments box?

I'd love to allow Comments, but have had to stop, owing to problems with the "human rights commissions" in Canada, who have taken to prowling the Internet. Bizarre incidents involving comboxes have resulted in the blog owner getting charged with a human rights offense - both expensive and embarrassing.

Yes, I know it sounds loopy - loopier than a barrel of multiverses - but you can read all about it here and in a growing number of other places as well, including the Free Mark Steyn blog. It is NOT a joke. Currently, our national police (the Mounties) are investigating the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Honestly, I don't know how things will turn out. A certain sort of middle-aged person is currently a growing power in the land in Canada - a leftover, real or imaginary, from the "flower power" Trudeau era - for whom traditional civil liberties are an impediment to the icebound utopia of their dreams
where never is heard
an insensitive word
and the therapy goes on all day

If it becomes safe again for a Canadian who is willing to entertain controversial ideas to allow Comments, I will. In the meantime, it is simply too much of a risk and time sink, and I can only offer my apologies for what internationally known Canadian columnist Mark Steyn, himself charged and certain of conviction, increasingly calls the "deranged Dominion."