By Ewan Jones
Multiverse theorists rejoice – physicists from Durham University in conjunction with three Australian universities have shown that the multiverse may not be as lacking in life as previously expected.
The multiverse theory, supported by such prominent physicists as Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Green, Michio Kaku and the late Stephen Hawking, explains how against seemingly impossible odds our Universe has allowed life to form.
For stars and galaxies to form, the set of conditions required is so specific that their occurrence in our universe is often used as an argument for the existence of a creator; in fact, the formation of life relies on a series of cosmological coincidences. The necessary values of gravity, the electromagnetic force and dark energy, and the required balance of matter and antimatter are so precise that for our universe to have arisen by chance seems almost unbelievably lucky.
In a multiverse of infinite Universes, however, at least one Universe must have the right values needed to support life; a lone beacon of light in a multiverse of infinite dead, dark Universes.
Durham’s research paints a new picture of the multiverse: one with many life-filled Universes, shining together. This difference in models is due to the quantity of ‘dark energy’, a mysterious force that is needed in small amounts to counteract the forces of gravity, allowing the Universe to expand. Too much dark energy would cause atoms to move away from each other too rapidly, preventing the formation of stars.
This ‘Goldilocks Zone’ of dark energy was previously thought to be incredibly small, however, the new research shows that a Universe with hundreds of times more or less dark energy would still be able to form stars and galaxies, allowing the possible formation of life.
Physicists from the four universities used simulations to visualise Universes with different dark energy quantities, eventually reaching the conclusion in a recently published paper that differing amounts of dark energy would only have “modest effects” on star formation.
Whilst these findings are surely a cause for celebration, suggesting the multiverse has a much greater potential for life than previously thought, it raises a new question. Why does our Universe have such small amounts of dark energy compared to the new ‘average’ found in Durham research?
Some physicists are suggesting we need a new law of physics to explain this phenomenon – yet another bump in the road for the explanation of the strange world of the multiverse.
Photograph: WikiSky via Wikimedia Commons