Thursday, August 21, 2003

Slate: A strange, strange, strange universe

My So-Called Universe - Our cozy world is probably much bigger—and stranger—than we know. By Jim Holt
.... For instance, measurements of the cosmic background radiation (the echo left over from the big bang) indicate that the space we live in is infinite and that matter is spread randomly throughout it. Therefore, all possible arrangements of matter must exist out there somewhere—including exact and inexact replicas of our own world and the beings in it. The idea is a bit like that of monkeys in front of typewriters eventually typing out all of Shakespeare: Quantum theory says that nature is discrete, so the visible universe we inhabit is characterized by a finite amount of information; if space is infinite, this informational pattern is bound to repeat at vast enough distances. A back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that there should be an exact copy of you around 10 to the 10 to the 28th light-years away...
In 1980 or so, during a public lecture, I asked Kip Thorne what his wildest speculation was. As I recall, he wondered back then if it would be possible to travel back in time to a universe that had branched from our own. He laughed as he said this.

Fast forward a generation. All of cosmology has gone off the deep end. How deep? People far smarter and more focused than I talk seriously about infinite space, endless worlds, new universes aborning every fraction of a femtosecond, universes of unimaginable physics. The "hard science" in the science fiction of the past 10 years is almost unimaginably complex -- and that's the "non-fiction" part.

In this setting the idea of a Designed Universe is not so wild. Why not? In a multiverse there's room for a trillion trillion Deities. Heck, maybe a trillion Deities are born every passing second.

Some wilder types have noted there's no clear distinction between a Designed Universe and a simulation.

Ahh, for the good old days of the Big Bang.

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