The multiverse is looking more likely

Or so I am told:

…those gravitational wave results point to a particularly prolific and potent kind of “inflation” of the early universe, an exponential expansion of the dimensions of space to many times the size of our own cosmos in the first fraction of a second of the Big Bang, some 13.82 billion years ago.

“In most models, if you have inflation, then you have a multiverse,” said Stanford physicist Andrei Linde. Linde, one of cosmological inflation’s inventors, spoke on Monday at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics event where the BICEP2 astrophysics team unveiled the gravitational wave results.

Essentially, in the models favored by the BICEP2 team’s observations, the process that inflates a universe looks just too potent to happen only once; rather, once a Big Bang starts, the process would happen repeatedly and in multiple ways.

There is more here.  How should this change my behavior?  Should I feel more or less regret?  Take more or fewer risks?

For the pointer I thank Ami Evelyn.


Well, Tyler, you already knew that I existed and as far as objects in the universe are concerned we are pretty much identical. After all, we are both very handsome. So does the fact that I exist and billions of similar beings that are basically the same as you from the view point of a sentient puddle of molten lead on mercury cause you to change your behaviour, feel more or less regret, or take more or fewer risks? Sure we might not be quite as identical as an alternate universe Tyler might be, but I think we tend to exaggerate our little differences and at least we share the same universe and that's a point of commonality alternate universe Tyler doesn't have

"The multiverse is looking more likely"

A multiverse can look all ways, can't it? It can exist in eternal gradients of less and more in equal doses of possibility or quantum likelihood?

I've always assumed a multiverse also presupposes infinity?

"How should this change my behavior?"

A multi-verse implies no free will. Read Diderot's Jacques the Fatalist for how you should behave.

I think you are talking about a different kind of multiverse. A phase-space ensemble or perhaps a quantum many worlds, in which everything that can happen does. Inflation says nothing for or against that kind of multiverse. Inflation says there might be multiple regions of time-space each with its own big-bang and separated in such a way that no information can pass from one to another.

That's right, the word "multiverse" can have several different meanings -- at least four, in fact. Max Tegmark arranges them hierarchically in his recent book. For a good quick rundown of the different definitions of "multiverse", see this review of Tegmark's book, by MIT's Scott Aaronson:

The multiverse allows for time travel (closed time-like curves) to simultaneously exist with free will. i.e. It is one of the ways to resolve the grandfather paradox.


Mainly though I just hope this finally kills the horrible plot device of time travel with predestination. Wavefunctions do not uncollapse!

Also, this should help spur sales of the multiverse novel Resonance. Tyler would probably enjoy it, has something of an economics theme.

Philosopher Robert C. Koons notes:

"Originally, atheists prided themselves on being no-nonsense empiricists, who limited their beliefs to what could be seen and measured. Now, we find ourselves in a situation in which the only alternative to belief in God is belief in an infinite number of unobservable parallel universes! You've come along way, baby!"

And of course, a world in which religionists preempt cosmological precepts by absorbing them into Biblical dogma and calling the mess "intelligent" design.

Not all religionists do that. Indeed, most do not.

Regardless, this does nothing to refute the point.

And what the hell is a religionist? I'm a Hindu and I'm ok with evolution and a multiverse. And with multiple supernatural entities. Aren't I a "religionist" too? Most people around me seem to think so. One would expect people who are into science to be a little more precise in their terms.

I lump atheists in with religionists. They have as much faith in their belief as I do.
Agnostics are the only true neutral.

That's like a medieval man gloating & feeling vindicated in his belief of fire-breathing flying dragons on seeing a Patriot missile launch. "Look! I told you so!"

That begs the question, because it presupposes the truth (and greater sophistication) of the multiverse theory. But the evidence for the multiverse is nothing like the evidence for a patriot missile. It is based on series of assumptions extrapolated from speculative models that are based on other series of assumptions. One wouldn't look at cosmic microwave radiation and see a big bang or inflation unless you had that prior model. Is there any evidence-based reason to believe this more than believing that God exists? Or is it mood affiliation? It is at least mood affiliation for the 99.99% of the population who don't have the knowledge to themselves verify the scientists' results.

Also, not to belabor the point, but belief in God is also not like believing in fire-breathing dragons. The latter has been thoroughly debunked, while the former has not.

My point was that not all abstract theories are made equal. Just because an Unicorn & the Higgs Boson are both not directly observable is no reason to equate their credibility or validity. So also for complexity.

In the particular case, I think I agree with you. Belief in God is not the same as belief in fantastic dragons. And multiverse theories are a bit wacky (string theory too). Perhaps physics crackpottery.

But there's no excuse for Sailor-isque contorted reasoning.

belief in God [...] has not been thoroughly debunked

Let's see - belief in Odin ? not thoroughly debunked
Belief in Perun ? likewise
Belief in the invisibile gnome I have on my shoulder ? even more so.

No not debunked. The followers of those Gods were either exterminated or lost interest. Not the same thing. IIRC I read here that the number of people seeking degrees in chemistry has been going down for a few years. Assuming it is so, it doesn't mean chemistry is being debunked does it?

The Big Bang theory was proposed in 1927 by a Catholic priest and astrophysicist, Father Georges Lemaitre, who was not unaware of how it discomfited atheists:

The Multiverse is an answer to the logical challenge of the "Anthropic Principle" introduced by physicist Brandon Carter in 1974, which resembled the Rev. Paley's Argument from Design for the existence of God. Carter pointed out that our universe seems suspiciously fine-tuned for the evolution of intelligent life. For instance, if gravity were much stronger, the Big Bang would have quickly collapsed back on itself; much weaker, and stars and planets couldn't have formed.

To avoid admitting a Designer, cosmologists had to postulate that beyond our natural world, there must exist a, shall we say, "supernatural" world. Maybe, they say, there is a "superuniverse" comprising an infinite number of universes, all with different natural laws.

Those of us with a taste for irony have enjoyed these developments.

The British astronomer, sci-fi writer, and controversialist Sir Fred Hoyle was at the center of both controversies when I was younger. From his Wikipedia page:

"While having no argument with the Lemaître theory (later confirmed by Edwin Hubble's observations) that the universe was expanding, Hoyle disagreed on its interpretation. He found the idea that the universe had a beginning to be pseudoscience, resembling arguments for a creator, "for it's an irrational process, and can't be described in scientific terms" (see Kalam cosmological argument).[9] Instead, Hoyle, along with Thomas Gold and Hermann Bondi (with whom he had worked on radar in World War II), in 1948 began to argue for the universe as being in a "steady state" and formulated their steady state theory."

Hoyle's steady state theory tended to be more agreeable to scientists until the discovery of background radiation by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson in the 1960s tipped the weight of evidence decisively toward Lemaitre's "Let There Be Light"-style Big Bang theory.

On the other hand, Hoyle, the Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy at Cambridge, was much shaken by the unlikeliness of our universe. From Sir Fred's Wikipedia article:

"Hoyle, who was an atheist,[15] anti-theist[citation needed] and Darwinist, said that this apparent suggestion of a guiding hand left him "greatly shaken." ...

"An early paper of Hoyle's made an interesting use of the anthropic principle. In trying to work out the routes of stellar nucleosynthesis, he observed that one particular nuclear reaction, the triple-alpha process, which generates carbon, would require the carbon nucleus to have a very specific resonance energy for it to work. The large amount of carbon in the universe, which makes it possible for carbon-based life-forms of any kind to exist, demonstrated that this nuclear reaction must work. Based on this notion, he made a prediction of the energy levels in the carbon nucleus that was later borne out by experiment.
These energy levels, while needed to produce carbon in large quantities, were statistically very unlikely. Hoyle later wrote:

"'Would you not say to yourself, "Some super-calculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.'"
—Fred Hoyle[6]

The growing popularity of the notion that our universe is one of many "simulations" carried out by one or more superior beings for whatever purpose He or They may have:

is an attempt to resolve this logical problem. Of course, any resemblance to speculative theology of the past is not wholly coincidental.

Yeah bro, you just keep on performing logic pretzels, if that's what it takes to reassure yourself that your imaginary friend is totally not a figment of a scared monkey's hind-brain.

"What a nice conclusion I have, now let's find a way to get to it."

While not a believer, I share your view I think. There are things we know to be true, but cannot prove. What logically follows is there are things we simply cannot know. The existence or non-existence of God is one such example. Another is why guys like Daniel think his ritualized chanting is something other than blind faith. Atheism is just another religion. A weird and irrational one, but a religion nonetheless.

Last time I checked, I wasn't the one waving his penis religion in front of everyone to admire.

Personally, I have no need for imaginary friends. If someone else does, it's his/her business. Just don't rub it in my face claiming that your inability to accept the universe's indifference somehow makes you better (ya know, like that Sailer dude did).

Damn, it was supposed to be

penis religion

Danny, you should probably see someone about those hallucinations. I doubt there's much to be done about your staggering ignorance, but at least you can do something about that imaginary penis that you think is stalking you.

Andrei Linde uses a bunch of unconfirmed experimental results to promote a very controversial physics theory - Steve Sailer sees it a perfect excuse to trot out his beloved imaginary friend - and I'm the ignorant here ?

Z - you're a moron.

Andrei Linde uses unconfirmed experimental results to promote a controversial physics theory - Steve Sailer sees it a perfect excuse to trot out his beloved imaginary friend - and I'm the ignorant here ?

Z, were you dropped on your head when you were small ?


What about agnosticism?

Let me suggest that most people here different definitions of atheism than an atheist would.

What many atheists conclude is, given the evidence, an intervening God is highly unlikely. The magical entity that people describe as choosing to appear in certain historical periods and times in the past tells human things and performs miracles (and then of course decides not to come back when we would have better ways to capture evidence of it) is highly unlikely. To truly believe in the major religions of the world is to believe in certain low probability events.

That's it. It's a probabilistic statement that God as described by most people is unlikely. An agnostic looks at the evidence and says, "meh, you can't prove it either way." An atheist says, "that's true but i can say more about the claims made by billions of people. I can say that they are so unlikely I will live my life as if they weren't true." How does that make atheism another religion?

The difference is that God is an posited intentionality that exists outside of a human brain. From my sense data, intention only exists in biological things with brains, and they tend to be social..

That is a rather limited view, but it seems reasonable if a little dogmatic and limited. If a sentient AI arises will you need to adjust that?

I believe in a Triune God, but I don't really see how the Father is inherently biologic, the Son however, certainly had a biologic nature...

For some reason, certain people consider your opinions to be worth listening to.

Considering the dumb crap you just posted, I'm uncertain why that would be.

The many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics (one version of a multiverse) is a pretty straightforward implication of the weirdness of the Schrödinger equation. The Schrödinger equation works very well so we should take its implications seriously.

No human has ever set foot on Mars so we have no direct empirical evidence of what would happen if someone were to get there, but we justifiably think we know what to expect if we did send someone there because we understand the relevant science well and take the implications seriously.

Your comments here basically do nothing to tell us why we should prefer the collapse of the wave function (or whatever you happen to prefer, which is presumably really obvious?) to make sense to the Schrödinger equation.

Considering your views on other topics I don't understand why you seem to think it's legitimate to peer into the souls of others to find motivations for their beliefs. Presumably it's then legitimate to simply peer into your soul before dismissing your other views?

The Schrödinger equation works very well so we should take its implications seriously.

Everyone, please take that gospel truth emanating from MR Comment Prophet Stuart on faith. (or, in dan1111's more polite formulation, "It is at least mood affiliation for the 99.99% of the population who don’t have the knowledge to themselves verify the scientists’ results."

Sometimes, that is true, but we have to remember that scientific advances have come a long way from amateur natural philosophers working at their desks. It is normal that some of the theories proposed will be outlandish (just as black holes and such were considered once, or the non-centrality of Earth), and scientists are not responsible for policing their numbers for cranks who spawn something that sounds farfetched. Some of those cranks, like Isaac newton, may even be proven right. The idea here is that you should maintain the willingness to abandon or modify theories when evidence or observations contradict them. It's not scientific to BELIEVE in the multiverse per se, but it is scientific to entertain the idea if there is a shred of evidence to suggest it, and then abandon it if it is disproved. I can only wonder at how incredible some of the theories of the next hundred years might be. As long as we maintain scientific standards, there is little in common with dogmatic religionists. I don't remember who said that scientific research exists at the frontier of ignorance. Since we can claim to reasonably know even the age of the Universe, the huge body of accumulated knowledge seems to maybe give the impression that there is little of value to be gained from pursuing certain theories or subjects of study, but I am confident that that is not true.

"The greatest weight. -- What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: "This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence -- even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!" Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus?" - Nietzsche

Even suicide probably doesn't work, so best learn to deal.

This is the same excerpt that came to my mind at the end of Tyler's post. So it is the right answer.

The movie Groundhog Day answers this nicely.

"Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus?" umm no ?

Matt Strassler has a good post on what this experiment means, assuming the data will be verified and is correctly interpreted:

He also addresses Linde's multiverse claims in the comments, concluding he may be stretching the evidence a bit further than experiment justifies:

"It is true that both Linde and Guth see it as difficult to have inflation without having a hugely complex universe with huge separated regions, which is what one may call a “multiverse” in this context. They are great scientists and one has to take them seriously. But this is something we only know about from theoretical considerations; there’s no experimental evidence for it as of now. My own understanding of the theoretical considerations involved is too weak for me to have a strong opinion, and at this point I’m inclined to take the view that the issue is not settled yet, though a “multiverse” of this type is a possibility. I plan to write about this soon."

Good link.

Good point. That post by Matt Strassler is very good at explaining the tremendous implications that the observations by the BICEP 2 experiment would have if confirmed to be correct.

That sentence of his about the multiverse is also very accurate. Linde is an immensely good scientist but he is know among the cosmology community for pushing his ideas very strongly; one should always take his bold statements with a grain of salt. Even if the results of this experiment are correct, the multiverse idea would still be considered speculative by most cosmologists.

Linde isn't stretching evidence, that's such an insult to a scientist. Matter of fact it, we already have mathematical-physical proof of (Type II) Multiverse:

Just pay attention, as Linde says:

"[...] Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: 'You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.'"

I never understood why people often leave this out of the quote. Nietzsche thought we should welcome the idea and indeed live as if this were true.

Yes, I thought of this part too. Eternal recurrence of the same. The height of life affirmation.

Lots of Borges short stories on eternal recurrence. He tended to see it as terrible, but he was a gloomy gus.

Who says (Dan1111) that fire breathing dragons have been thoroughly debunked? I believe in them. Or at least I can believe in them with the same fervour and equal measure of evidence that or other people endow speculatively formed deities. The wisdom of crowds is not a good guide to metaphysics laddie.

Reasonable minds may differ, but this is simply more evidence for extraterrestrial life, as per the New Testament passage in John 10:16.

John 10:16, Jesus: "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd."

Goyim are aliens?

Well, they do seem to like white bread and mayo...

"How should this change my behavior?"

In no significant way.

It might be cause for him to learn more about physics, or science.

Eat more vegetables!

At restaurants filled with ugly people.

> How should this change my behavior? Should I feel more or less regret? Take more or fewer risks?

Fear God more

or less. We're possibly just a speck in one of the many petri dishes in His lab. Our Creator might not know that we exist.

Suppose someone persuades himself on sciencey grounds that there is a creator. How would that have any bearing on the old-fascist-in-the-sky god of the peoples of the Book?

Great question. Obviously the miraculous tales of the various religions didn't 'happen', but it's not so obvious that something supernatural wasn't the cause of the (multi?)verse springing into being many billions of years ago.

Since inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomena, Ben Bernanke is our god, and Milton Friedman is his disciple

Does the multiverse prove the existence of Tyrone?

A good place to assess the line between journalistic exaggeration and the limited but useful scientific results of recent major experimental announcements in super-expensive physics is the comments section of Peter Woit's blog ( sometimes the posts themselves are useful, too). He appears to be much better than most of his intellectual peers at remembering that there are hard statistics which tell us that there is a ratio between what we know and what we think we know. He appears convinced that most of his intellectual peers think that the "what we know" side of that ratio is higher than it is. (However he does seem to suffer from some form of epistemic closure that makes him resistant to the hard statistics relating to what we know and don't know about natural selection, economics, and sociology; he is, after all, an Ivy league teacher in good standing and thus an intellectual but unbelieving heir of know-it-all Puritans and Progressives; but he generally leaves those subjects alone).

The link between the various inflation models and the "infinite number of disconnected universes" version of the multiverse is extremely speculative / not universally supported /not supported by this experiment in any way at all, except for as a general support of some kind of inflation model. It might also be interesting to note that most inflation theories are incompatible with some basic inequalities in string theory for technical reasons. So while there are some conclusions that might be able to be drawn from the data about the existence of some type of inflation, it's not clear that any existing detailed theory is a winner here. Except maybe general relativity.

Well, you are obviously reading too much into it. So obviously that I'll have to assume it's a joke - in case I'm wrong, the answer is that it changes absolutely nothing.

Multiverse causing Inflation may be relevant in practice because it can mean that we may be able to cause it to happen again. Now, if that's good or bad, I have no idea.

I think John Horgan ca. 1996 coined the term 'ironic science' to describe this sort of thing.

None of this would have happened if I were running the universe.

Well played.

I'm not a believer, but I do think the multiverse provides the most compelling support for reincarnation.

Imagine that your sense of subjective self-consciousness as a very low probability event that required the big bang, expansion, our solar system, our planet, evolution and your birth all of these crazy things happened and you awoke into the world. Probably doesn't happen again. But in a multiverse, as soon as you die, no matter how many generations or universes are required, that low probability event will probably happen again.

So my advice is, learn and grow. It's the optimal strategy for the here and now and the hereafter.

“In most models, if you have inflation, then you have a multiverse.”

This would suggest that the creation of new universes is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon.

There is no inflation, God is targeting NGUP.

Writers of sci-fi may at first be encouraged by this, since they/we/I cite the multiverse whenever we find ourselves in a cul-de-sac. However upon reflection the hall of mirrors approach vitiates any emotional impact to our plotting, i.e., if everything is possible nothing matters. For an example, consider Terminator 3.

This also has applications to the internet, twitter, facebook, cable television, photoshopping as a reality influencer, magic tricks (that coin didn't disappear, it visited another dimension)--indeed any social media outside of the traditional campfire. As Ezra Pound wrote in the Cantos, "Here comes everybody." Again.

I am not a scientist or a philosopher by any stretch, but this conversation (and most like it) strikes me as a little odd.

What seems to be lacking are common principles, and what seems to be in high supply is the drive to do something, to say something, to come up with something, in each case that somehow "improves on" or enhances what has come before.

Allow me to misquote one principle, coming by way of a self-contradicting statement: The only thing I know is that I know nothing. Stated another way: By a show of hands, how many of you are absolutely certain about absolutely anything, other than the words in this sentence? Some might answer in the affirmative, perhaps the "religionists" (whatever that means) or the "scientists" (whatever that means) among you. Others, thinking to "do nuance," might answer in the negative, but then stepping back, recognize the absurdity of that concession.

A lightfooted gentleman who lived a few thousand years ago, so we are told, uttered the above principle, so we are told, to another gentleman who left it for us to pick over. Schoolchildren read this statement, think it over, check the right box on their midterms, and then go off into the world to be doctors or politicians or pastors or cosmologists or cosmetologists, many espousing strong views on "how things are" and "how things are not" and what each can contribute to the conversation.

Yet we always come back to: what do I really, really "know"? Momentary silence sets in. The eyes invariably shift to the tick-tock of the clock, and then to the other participants in this comic waiting room, and everyone jumps right back into that beautifully defeating act of trying to convince someone that, lo and behold, you, you, and not the next person, actually, actually, KNOW.

The "religionists" here might say: "If we didn't have God and a belief in God, all would be soulless machinery." Maybe. The "scientists" here might say: "If we didn't have science, we'd still be trying to push the holy men around the woods on square blocks." Maybe. But from which common principle are all such "here's how it is" statements emanating? Maybe this other mistranslated principle: I think therefore I am. And by extension, my experience is truth or could at least get me closer to truth. I say "maybe."

Admitting you don't know clears your sinuses and is good for digestion. Avoiding the temptation to believe (much less argue) what is more likely than not is equivalent to trying to multiply your way out of zero by raising the multiplier. Zero times one "I'm sure of this" = Zero times forty-two "I'm sure of this"es.

As to the multiverse and the universe and the coffee in my cup and your reading this far, I don't know. And I would propose that neither you (if you actually exist and are not a remnant of my imagination) nor anyone you know (if they actually exist and are not a remnant of your (and/or my (and/or Denis Rodman's)) imagination), likewise do not know. Maybe.

Shorter version: no one knows nuthin'

And that's pretty accurate. We all gotta live and we all gotta die, and how you deal with that and how you live is up to you.

I have two answers to your two questions:

grrr. Three questions

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