Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Not just aliens: The multiverse has gotta be out there too!

According to Tim Folger in Discover Magazine (November 10, 2008), "Science's Alternative to an Intelligent Creator:" is "the Multiverse Theory."

The staggering challenge is to think of a way to confirm the existence of other universes when every conceivable experiment or observation must be confined to our own. Does it make sense to talk about other universes if they can never be detected?

[ ... ]

The credibility of string theory and the multiverse may get a boost within the next year or two, once physicists start analyzing results from the Large Hadron Collider, the new, $8 billion particle accelerator built on the Swiss-French border. If string theory is right, the collider should produce a host of new particles. There is even a small chance that it may find evidence for the mysterious extra dimensions of string theory. “If you measure something which confirms certain elaborations of string theory, then you’ve got indirect evidence for the multiverse,” says Bernard Carr, a cosmologist at Queen Mary University of London.

[ ... ]

When I ask Linde whether physicists will ever be able to prove that the multiverse is real, he has a simple answer. “Nothing else fits the data,” he tells me. “We don’t have any alternative explanation for the dark energy; we don’t have any alternative explanation for the smallness of the mass of the electron; we don’t have any alternative explanation for many properties of particles.

“What I am saying is, look at it with open eyes. These are experimental facts, and these facts fit one theory: the multiverse theory. They do not fit any other theory so far. I’m not saying these properties necessarily imply the multiverse theory is right, but you asked me if there is any experimental evidence, and the answer is yes. It was Arthur Conan Doyle who said, ‘When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

A story like this leaves me with three key questions:

1. What is the likelihood - given that the article makes clear that so much is speculative - that small amounts of ambiguous data will be over-interpreted and professions of faith in the multiverse demanded - the way Darwinian evolutionists must believe in the Peppered Myth. In that case, the data are ambiguous, but the call to conversion is not.

It is overwhelmingly clear is that most of the people interviewed have an emotional aversion to the idea of design in our universe, which would make them unreliable judges of ambiguous data from the Large Hadron Collider (which is currently out of commission for a couple of months due to a superconductor failure).

2. The mantra "we don't have any alternative ... " is downright spooky. It sounds like these people are preparing themselves to interpret anything they do find as evidence for what they need to believe.
3. If they do not find anything that even they can interpret as evidence for a multiverse, does that count against the theory or must it be true anyway? (I fear I know the answer to that one. It likely means building an even bigger Collider ... )

Note: If you like this and other related posts here at Colliding Universes, you can vote for Colliding Unverses at the Canadian Blogger Awards, sci-tech division. Vote early, vote often, and vote for me, of course.

See also: No escape from philosophy through equations?

Now, remind me again why we need this multiverse theory in the first place ...

Letter: Multiverses are nonsense but so is much contemporary physics

The universe has the hallmarks of design and what can anyone do about it?

Quantum mechanics and popular culture: Artist's lot offers chance to produce trillions of universes

No escape from philosophy through equations?

Big physics could end up putting physicists out of a job?

Will it be a disaster for physics if the Higgs boson is the ONLY thing the Large Hadron Collider finds?

And so forth (Other stuff I have written on the bleeping multiverse, for which It, (Inc.) is suing me ... But the writ was sent to an infinite number of wrong universes, so ... )
(Note: The image is from Taking a Closer Look at LHC, and it represents "time between bunches.")