Did We Just Prove There's Life in Stephen Hawking's Multiverse? New Scientific Study on Dark Energy Says There's a Chance

Monday, 14 May 2018 - 11:42AM
Space
Physics
Monday, 14 May 2018 - 11:42AM
Did We Just Prove There's Life in Stephen Hawking's Multiverse? New Scientific Study on Dark Energy Says There's a Chance
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Multiverse theory – like string theory or the 10th dimension – is a concept that's mind-blowing to think about, but difficult to empirically prove. That didn't stop Stephen Hawking from co-authoring the last paper of his career on it, of course. One reason scientists keep this theory around isn't that there's a lot of evidence for it (quite the opposite, in fact) but because it offers a potential solution for another theoretical problem: dark energy.

Unfortunately for multiverse fans, the multiverse "solution" may become obsolete very soon thanks to new research by Australian and UK scientists.

The problem multiverse theory supposedly starts with the expansion of our universe. According to a measurement taken in 2016, our universe is expanding at a rate of 45.5 miles per second per megaparsec thanks, in part, to the mysterious influence of dark energy. The strange thing is that (according to current models of the universe) the expansion should be happening much, much faster – because there should be trillions of more times the amount of dark matter that we're observing. In fact, there should be so much dark matter in our universe that its expansion shouldn't even allow for the formation of stars.

This is where multiverse theory comes in.

In the framework of multiverse theory, all that dark matter is accounted for – it's just in different universes. When the Big Bang happened, various parts of the universe expanded in different ways. This created bubbles in space and time that developed into separate universes, and ours was left with the right amount of dark matter to both account for our expansion rate while allowing for the creation of stars (and therefore, life). The amount of dark matter needed to do both of those things has been considered incredibly specific, too, leading to the belief that our universe is the only one with life because it's the only one that can support life.

However, new research from the University of Sydney in Australia and Durham University in the UK have created new simulations of different universes and found that they could crank up the amount of dark energy in a given universe without seeing much of a change. According to Jaime Salcido, one of the researchers associated with the project: "Our simulations show that even if there was much more dark energy or even very little in the universe then it would only have a minimal effect on star and planet formation."

For researcher Luke Barnes, this makes multiverse theory seem a little fishy: "The multiverse was previously thought to explain the observed value of dark energy as a lottery – we have a lucky ticket and live in the universe that forms beautiful galaxies which permit life as we know it. Our work shows that our ticket seems a little too lucky, so to speak. It's more special than it needs to be for life. This is a problem for the multiverse; a puzzle remains."

Multiverse theory was proposed partially as a solution to the problem of dark energy. If dark matter isn't as important as scientists previously thought, maybe we don't need a solution like a multiverse theory after all.

Which is bad news for Stephen Hawking.

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