Not Only Does the Multiverse Not Exist, It's a 'Useless Theory,' Expert Says

Tuesday, 23 January 2018 - 11:20AM
Tuesday, 23 January 2018 - 11:20AM
Not Only Does the Multiverse Not Exist, It's a 'Useless Theory,' Expert Says
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Image credit: YouTube

Sci-fi is filled with fantastic tales of multiverses—an infinite cosmic tapestry of universes wherein alternate realities play out in endless, "choose your own adventure"-style fashions. If one defining event in your life didn't happen, this supposes, your future would play out completely differently.

Now Sabine Hossenfelder, a research fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies in Germany, has come to rein in any wondrously imaginative alternate reality that you think exists in the multiverse.

In an opinion piece for NPR, Hossenfelder denies the claim by many prominent scientists that the presence of a multiverse is based on substantial scientific reasoning. She starts off by saying that Ockham's Razor, the famous theory that the simplest explanation for something is most likely true, renders any suggestion of multiverse without logic or likelihood.

"If Ockham could see what physicists are doing here, he'd pray for God to bring reason back to Earth," she writes. "You should remove unnecessary assumptions, alright. But certainly you shouldn't remove assumptions that you need to describe observations. If you do, you'll just get a useless theory, equations from which you can't calculate anything. These useless theories which lack assumptions necessary to describe observations are what we now call a multiverse. And they're about as useful as Ockham's prayers...The multiverse replaces a simple explanation with a more complicated one. Such a move is only justified if the added complication explains additional data, but for the multiverse that isn't so."

In the stereotypically unimaginative German fashion, Hossenfelder continues to argue that since we can't calculate anything in the multiverse, we must replace our assumptions that are suspended to accommodate the theory with something else.

"That 'something else' is a probability distribution on the multiverse," she writes, "which tells you not what we do observe, but what we are likely to observe. But it is simpler to assume a constant than an infinite number of universes with a probability distribution over them. Therefore, Ockham's Razor should shave off the multiverse. It's superfluous. Unfortunately, this argument carries little weight among many of today's theoretical physicists who value the multiverse because it excuses boundless speculation."

Nowhere in her argument does Hossenfelder mention the unexplained bright patch of light captured by the European Space Agency's Planck telescope, which some scientists consider to be the first evidence of a multiverse.

Some also think that a multiverse hypothesis bears additional weight when considering that our universe was not birthed by the big bang, but by a black hole.