Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Truly foundational question!

Foundational Questions Institute awarded Dr. Laura Mersini-Houghton and Richard Holman $50.000 grant to to study a rather esoteric subject

The Puzzle of the Initial Conditions and the Multiverse 

Here is a summary of the project copied for your convenience from the Institute page

Professor Laura Mersini-Houghton
FQXi Community
We believe our universe started with high energy inflation. We also know it is inflating again at present. Both events seem extremely unlikely with our current understanding of physics.

This disturbing fundamental issue seem to guide us to a picture where the missing piece in the puzzle is an extension of our theories to the multiverse framework and where the dynamics of gravity plays a crucial role.

Three important theories predict a multiverse. Yet only one can correspond to physical reality. We thus need a better understanding of the ontology of the multiverse; its background space-time; and, potential observational imprints.

We proposed to study the selection of the initial conditions by taking the multiverse to be the landscape of (3+1) dimensional worlds predicted by string theory. In this picture matter content in each initial patch tries to crunch the domain to a point while the energy of the vacuum (inflaton energy) tries to blow it apart. Thus the only way for our universe to grow large and to survive the pull of matter is by starting at high energies. One of our predictions here, the existence of a giant void was confirmed by observations only 7 months later.
Laura Mersini-Houghton

Theological comment

This is scientific research and must remain such. But the idea of Multiverse has, of course, tremendous Theological connotations, as well.

Personally this brings to my mind the "multiple realities" present in Biblical texts that do not fit well into a worldview boxed into a single physical universe and the existence of only linear time. Multiple dimensions do not seem to me as interesting in this context as the Multiverse ideas presented by Professor Laura Mersini-Houghton and her colleagues.

Obviously the Eridanus Supervoid is under scrutiny and much work is being done to verify the observations. But this is, indeed, how science progresses from known towards the unknown, often on the basis of just slight problems in the existing models that explain physical reality.

No comments:

Post a Comment