Introduction: Omega Point
For some, the notion of a Multiverse is pure science fiction. From TV & movies, to comic books and cartoons, the Multiverse trope has saturated our imaginary landscape, allowing us to indulge our every fictional fantasy…while rarely challenging us to ask the relevant question:
Might the Multiverse, in fact, be fact…
…rather than fiction?
Our ancestors took for granted that there was more than one plane of existence…but over the centuries, secular and materialist views have dismissed such beliefs as myth and superstition.
Over the last half-century, however, the scientific community has circled back around. During that time, they have ardently debated whether our Universe is but one of many…
…inching closer and closer to conclusions that all-too clearly mirror the fantastic assertions our forefathers bequeathed to us long ago.
This series aims to build a bridge between our physical and metaphysical efforts to grasp the multiversal mystery. The plan is to reveal that these ancient philosophies could be more credible than some folks would think…
…and to argue that our personal journeys might just be as incredible as many of us have dared to dream.
We will begin by demystifying these arcane disciplines as best we can…eventually grounding them in terms of how the Multiverse has captivated our pop-culture consciousness, and what that implies. Ultimately, we will strive to illuminate the practical value the likelihood of a Multiverse yields for our respective and collective evolution…
…especially if we take the possibility seriously.
For, if true, the mere prospect that each of us is but one variant of an infinite number of near-duplicates of ourselves may seem trite, when compared to the potentiality that maybe all our favorite heroes and villains actually exist…
…somewhere at the edge of forever.
So, True Believers, get ready to follow me down a radical rabbit hole like none-other…and see for yourselves how magnificent the Multiverse may be!
Part 1: Gravitational Waves and Inflation
Scientifically speaking, there’s no one-way to approach the subject of the Multiverse. From the groundbreaking vision of Hugh Everett’s ‘Many Worlds Interpretation’ of quantum mechanics, to the fact that—from a certain point of view—essentially every cosmological model of the cosmos we’re considering is just another version of a multiversal manifestation…the question isn’t so-much whether or not we live ‘in’ a Multiverse…but rather, what type of Multiverse is it?
For us to advance any of these theories requires some kind of empirical evidence…
…and that brings us to the hunt for gravitational waves.
You may recall hearing that we puny humans recently detected gravitational waves. They’re ripples in the very fabric of Spacetime—which Albert Einstein predicted in 1916, a year after publishing his General Theory of Relativity.
Nearly 100 years later, on September 14th, 2015, scientists finally witnessed the phenomenon, detected at the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO)—located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington, USA. The news was officially declared on February 11th, 2016 after researchers spent months pouring over the data to be confident it was accurate.
In brief, gravitational waves are generated by the movement of all matter; matter warps space, and the larger the mass, the more intense the warpage. Einstein anticipated that given this nature of the cosmos, some celestial events—such as two massive black holes orbiting each other—would produce powerful fluctuations in the Spacetime Continuum, similar to those made from tossing a rock into water. These cosmic undulations would literally stretch and compress 4-dimensional Spacetime in its wake.
For an entertaining and far-more comprehensive explanation of this fantastic phenomenon—and how it was detected—check out this recent interview of popular, theoretical physicist, Brian Greene, by The Late Show’s own Stephen Colbert [2/24/2016].
“…[Gravitational Waves] herald a revolution in our understanding of the Universe.”
Without getting too far into the weeds just yet, what’s important to appreciate here is that gravitational waves are an essential element in the leading cosmological theory, known as Inflation…
…a model which effectively defines the cosmos as multiversal in structure.
So…finally confirming the existence of gravitational waves brings us one, significant step closer to the possibility of one-day validating Inflation theory…
…and, therefore, the Multiverse.
But what exactly is Inflation…
…how does it result in the Multiverse…
…and where do gravitational waves fit in?
The idea goes like this: back in the 1960’s and 70’s we had all this evidence piling up in support of the theory of the Big Bang…but there were blind-spots in the cosmology that didn’t jive with our observations. Basically, the distribution of heat and matter we were seeing throughout the universe didn’t make sense.
In 1980, theoretical physicist Alan Guth conceived of a solution to this dilemma…provided there was an intense instant of extremely rapid inflation that followed the ‘bang.’ During this cosmic birth, minute, quantum variations would be massively magnified, eventually forming the patterns of matter and energy we see distributed today.
Additionally, quantum-scale gravitational waves—emanating from this dramatic expansion of Spacetime—would be super-stretched out as well. We’ll get back to this detail in a moment.
The key here, is that as the Inflation model was refined, it appeared to completely supersede the quaint notion of a single big bang. Instead, it seemed to suggest a scenario whereby our universe is but one bubble in a sea of universes…all tangentially branching out from one another like a magnificent, multidimensional tree.
If this is the case, then what we think of as the ‘Big Bang’ is merely a byproduct of what’s now dubbed
…a process by which there are countless ‘big bangs’…
…forever spawning ‘inflating’ sprig universes off the backs of each ‘preexisting’ universe, ad infinitum.
Theoretical physicist Andrei Linde—another founding father of this hypothesis—describes it as, “The Self-Reproducing Inflationary Universe.” As he explains in an article he wrote for Scientific American in 1994, Inflation theory implies that existence is effectively,
“…a self-generating fractal that sprouts other Inflationary universes.”
He also states that,
“In this scenario the universe as a whole is immortal…”
…with no true beginning.
As indicated at the top of this article, there are other cosmological models out there…
…but it’s worth noting that Inflation is the leader of the pack. As MIT physics professor ‘MAD’ Max Tegmark puts it, Inflationary Cosmology is,
“…the most successful and popular theory for what happened early on…”
Scientific American, March 18, 2014
…meaning there is a general consensus amongst leading physicists that we have to take the proposal of a Multiverse quite seriously.
So, tying all this together…
…right now Inflation makes the most sense to most physicists in terms of explaining our observations of the cosmos; if true, it would mean existence is a cosmic web-work of bubble universes, infinitely arising for eternity…
…and the big clue we’re searching for to verify this are the primordial, quantum-scale gravitational waves that would have expanded as a result.
Unlike LIGO—which was looking for macrocosmic-scale waves that are large enough to be detected as they pass by and ripple right through us—these microcosmic gravitational waves must be found using entirely different means.
To find them, astronomers are using very powerful, specially designed telescopes to examine the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), an ancient, omnipresent heat signature left over from the so-called ‘Big Bang’. These telescopes are essentially peering backward in time to measure variations in this signal—which permeates the entirety of the known cosmos—
—fishing for fingerprints of these gravitational waves creating warped, polarized areas in the CMB.
“If verified, these gravitational waves would be direct evidence for the theory of Inflation…”
Clara Moskowitz, Scientific American‘s senior editor covering space and physics, March 31, 2014
In March 2014, the Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization 2 (BICEP2)—conducted at the South Pole—announced that they believed they had identified signs of these celestial stretch-marks. Naturally, this triggered worldwide excitement at the prospect of validating Inflation…and thereby sparked renewed discussion of the Multiverse on all fronts.
Sadly, the BICEP2 data was later shown by collaboration with another observatory to be primarily due to the polarization of light by interstellar dust…which, apparently, can produce a pattern similar to that expected to be seen with the magnified gravitational waves.
Nonetheless, the search continues…
The Antarctic station has been recently upgraded to what is now being called BICEP3—possessing resolution sensitivity ten times greater than before. Additionally, as more observatories join the hunt, it may be merely a matter of months or a few short years before the imprints of these original gravitational waves are ultimately found.
In the meantime, finally confirming the existence of large-scale gravitational waves tells us that the chance of one day finding remnants of such microcosmic perturbations does exist…and could come soon.
While eventually glimpsing gravitational waves in the CMB would still technically be indirect evidence for the Multiverse, Greene himself has long been a proponent of the Multiverse model, and posits that there may in fact be other ways to test for it, despite the doubts of skeptics. Given this, even LIGO’s historic detection of gravitational waves is something I presume must be weighing on his and other colleagues’ minds when it comes to that discovery’s long-range implications for the credence of the Multiverse theory.
A brief interview of Brian Greene discussing the Multiverse and how we might affirm it.
~ Columbia University, New York, NY [3/22/2011].
Gravitational Waves & The Grand Unified Theory
It is salient to mention that when it comes to the hot pursuit of these earliest, quantum-scale gravitational waves, authenticating them would not only bolster support of the Multiverse—it could also be a huge leap forward in our efforts to devise a single, coherent ‘theory of everything.’ Such a formula would explain all our observations of the natural world…
…uniting the laws of physics which we use for making sense of our macrocosmic kingdom…
…with the bizarre behaviors that govern the quantum scale.
Einstein was obsessed with divining this unified theorem during the last several decades of his life…and it’s fair to say that every physicist since then has been doing his or her part to do the same. As Brian Greene puts it, the quest for this penultimate principle,
Detecting gravitational waves at both scales would be an invaluable ingredient in mapping the relationship between these two realms of physics…and would utterly alter our grasp of reality.
As above, so below, baby!
So, to wrap up all this science $#@!…
…LIGO’s detection of gravitational waves is therefore—in my humble opinion—still a significant step towards substantiating the dominant view that Inflation is real…that it is ‘eternal’…and that existence, consequently, is an infinite, fractaline Multiverse—
—or, as I have dubbed it, the Fractalverse.
That said, I would like—briefly—to make a case for officially shifting our terminology to Fractalverse for the remainder of these articles…and beyond.
For me, renaming the Multiverse as The Fractalverse provides a far more accurate and elegant picture of what we’re talking about…altogether simplifying the language around this already complicated subject.
This sense of the fabric of reality being fractaline in form is one I’ve held since early adulthood…and is a perspective that many I’ve spoken with seem to share. It’s a notion that nature itself is a NeverEnding set of repeating patterns—or archetypes—and that we, as humans, happen to exist as a domain in that design. Here, conscious awareness can arise, with which to study this mathematically miraculous structure…
…of which we are intrinsically a part.
Put another way…
…WE are The Fractalverse…
…and The Fractalverse is US.
Of course, this multidimensional, reiterative perception of the cosmos is nothing new. Long before the labors that led to Inflation Theory or quantum mechanics, ancient traditions such as Hinduism’s Puranic cosmology, Judaism’s Kabbalistic Tree of Life and the many worlds of the Nordic mythos (to name a few) expressed similar wisdoms.
Though they did not rely on the same type of rigorous, objective evidence which modern, deductive reasoning demands, what they invoked were the spiritual sciences of subjective empiricism…which many still practice today.
In other words, what may seem like new, radical physics can—in actuality—trace its roots to the fundamental components of numerous faiths and cultures…
…and I believe this dynamic parallel has something profound to reveal to us about that which has been held as deeply relevant to personal development for millennia.
Whether you call it the Fractalverse, Multiverse, Megaverse or what-have-you, these age-old, esoteric views of reality are now being complemented by contemporary, scientific sensibilities and observations…an uncanny concurrence which harkens a new era for humanity’s evolution and understanding of our place in the cosmos.
|In Part 2:
We will delve further into the connections that 21st Century science shares with these ancestral paradigms…
In Part 3:
In Part 4 (coming soon!):
All the best to you and yours,