Category: Science World
The simplest multiverse is a consequence of the infinite size of our own Universe.
We do not actually know if the Universe is infinite, but we cannot rule it out. If it is, then it must be divided into a patchwork of regions that cannot see one another.
This is simply because the regions are too far apart for light to have crossed the distance. Our Universe is only 13.8 billion years old, so any regions further than 13.8 billion light years apart are utterly cut off.
To all intents and purposes, these regions are separate universes. But they will not stay that way: eventually light will cross the divide and the universes will merge.
If our Universe really does contain an infinite number of “island universes” like ours, with matter and stars and planets, there must be worlds identical to Earth somewhere out there.
It may sound incredibly unlikely that atoms should come together by chance into an exact replica of Earth, or a replica that is exact except for the colour of your socks. But in a genuine infinity of worlds, even that strange place must exist. In fact, it must exist countless times.
If so, then somewhere almost unimaginably far off, a being identical to me is typing out these words, and wondering if his editor is going to insist on radical revisions.
By the same logic, rather farther away there is an entire observable universe identical to ours. This distance can be estimated at about 10 to the power 10 to the power 118 metres. It is possible that this is not the case at all.
Maybe the Universe is not infinite. Or even if it is, maybe all the matter is concentrated in our corner of it, in which case most of the other universes could be empty. But there is no obvious reason why that should be, and no sign so far that matter gets sparser the farther away we look.
Next Page: The inflationary multiverse
The idea of parallel universes may seem bizarre, but physics has found all sorts of reasons why they should exist.
Is our Universe one of many?
The idea of parallel universes, once consigned to science fiction, is now becoming respectable among scientists – at least, among physicists, who have a tendency to push ideas to the limits of what is conceivable.
In fact there are almost too many other potential universes. Physicists have proposed several candidate forms of “multiverse”, each made possible by a different aspect of the laws of physics.
The trouble is, virtually by definition we probably cannot ever visit these other universes to confirm that they exist. So the question is, can we devise other ways to test for the existence of entire universes that we cannot see or touch?
In at least some of these alternative universes, it has been suggested, we have doppelgängers living lives much like – perhaps almost identical to – our own.
That idea tickles our ego and awakens our fantasies, which is doubtless why the multiverse theories, however far-out they seem, enjoy so much popularity. We have embraced alternative universes in works of fiction ranging from Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle to movies like Sliding Doors.
Indeed, there is nothing new about the idea of a multiverse, as philosopher of religion Mary-Jane Rubenstein explains in her 2014 book Worlds Without End.
In the mid-16th century, Copernicus argued that the Earth is not the centre of the Universe. Several decades later, Galileo’s telescope showed him stars beyond measure: a glimpse of the vastness of the cosmos.
So at the end of the 16th century, the Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno speculated that the Universe might be infinite, populated by an infinite number of inhabited worlds.
The idea of a Universe containing many solar systems became commonplace in the 18th Century.
By the early 20th Century, the Irish physicist Edmund Fournier d’Albe was even suggesting that there might be an infinite regression of “nested” universes at different scales, ever larger and ever smaller. In this view, an individual atom might be like a real, inhabited solar system.
Scientists today reject that notion of a “Russian doll” multiverse, but they have postulated several other ways in which multiverses might exist. Here are five of them, along with a rough guide to how likely they are.
Next Page: Worlds within worlds
Inaccessible or easily missed on the ground, ancient Maya ruins are increasingly spotted with the help of satellite imagery – but the process isn’t always fool-proof.
Some of the most magnificent Maya murals ever found – dating to 100BC – were discovered deep in the jungle of San Bartolo, Guatemala back in 2001.
It was obvious that San Bartolo had more to offer – but the jungle was thick. “It’s really dangerous walking through the jungle to find sites – it’s really humid, there are snakes,” explains Diane Davies, Honorary Research Associate at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL, who worked in the same area in the mid 2000’s.
“Honestly, you can be literally seven or eight metres away from a pyramid and in the jungle you can’t see it because [the vegetation is] so thick,” says Davies. However, through the analysis of satellite imagery, previously hidden archaeological sites can be found.
Davies recalls the assistance of Nasa scientist Thomas Sever who was later able to identify all sorts of fascinating features – including a lost Maya pyramid – from satellite images. Because many Maya buildings were constructed with limestone, the chemical composition around ruins has been altered over time – this shows up in some imagery.
When scanning areas for archaeological remains, different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum can be used to reveal patterns on the ground, says Geoffrey Braswell, at the University of California San Diego.
Light detection and ranging (Lidar), which uses lasers, may also be deployed to measure the topography.
“If you are flying over a canopy most of those beams going down get reflected off leaves and other things and don’t reach the ground – but some of them do,” says Braswell. “That allows us to see unique features on the ground.”
But Lidar is expensive and, for many years, was an inaccessible technology only used by the military. Braswell would love to use it to scan entire regions of Central America to see what sites archaeologists may have missed, but so far that just hasn’t been feasible.
There are other issues too. Most Maya scholars agree that sites detected by remote sensing should definitely be confirmed by expeditions on the ground.
This is because a lot of apparent discoveries often turn out to be nothing of interest – a field rather than the outline or a building, or something manmade much more recently than an ancient ruin.
“In the northern part of the Maya area in Yucatan [remote sensing] gives about 70% false positives,” says Braswell.
However, most agree that the benefits such technologies have made to archaeology are stunning. Some fabulous sites have been uncovered that could otherwise have gone unnoticed – and in some cases years have potentially been shaved off the effort to explore dense forest regions.
Byzantine art and architecture, works of art and structures works produced in the city of Byzantium after Constantine made it the capital of the Roman Empire (A.D. 330) and the work done under Byzantine influence, as in Venice, Ravenna, Norman Sicily, as well as in Syria, Greece, Russia, and other Eastern countries.
For more than a thousand years, until the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, Byzantine art retained a remarkably conservative orientation; the major phases of its development emerge from a background marked by adherence to classical principles.
Artistic activity was temporarily disrupted by the Iconoclastic controversy (726–843), which resulted in the wholesale destruction of figurative works of art and the restriction of permissible content to ornamental forms or to symbols like the cross. The pillaging of Constantinople by the Frankish Crusaders in 1204 was perhaps a more serious blow; but it was followed by an impressive late flowering of Byzantine art under the Paleologus dynasty.
Byzantine achievements in mosaic decoration brought this art to an unprecedented level of monumentality and expressive power. Mosaics were applied to the domes, half-domes, and other available surfaces of Byzantine churches in an established hierarchical order. The center of the dome was reserved for the representation of the Pantocrator, or Jesus as the ruler of the universe, whereas other sacred personages occupied lower spaces in descending order of importance.
The entire church thus served as a tangible evocation of the celestial order; this conception was further enhanced by the stylized poses and gestures of the figures, their hieratic gaze, and the luminous shimmer of the gold backgrounds. Because of the destruction of many major monuments in Constantinople proper, large ensembles of mosaic decoration have survived chiefly outside the capital, in such places as Salonica, Nicaea, and Daphni in Greece and Ravenna in Italy.
An important aspect of Byzantine artistic activity was the painting of devotional panels, since the cult of icons played a leading part in both religious and secular life. Icon painting usually employed the encaustic technique. Little scope was afforded individuality; the effectiveness of the religious image as a vehicle of divine presence was held to depend on its fidelity to an established prototype. A large group of devotional images has been preserved in the monastery of St. Catherine on Mt. Sinai.
The development of Byzantine painting may also be seen in manuscript illumination. Among notable examples of Byzantine illumination are a lavishly illustrated 9th-century copy of the Homilies of Gregory Nazianzus and two works believed to date from a 10th-century revival of classicism, the Joshua Rotulus (or Roll) and the Paris Psalter.
Enamel, ivory, and metalwork objects of Byzantine workmanship were highly prized throughout the Middle Ages; many such works are found in the treasuries of Western churches. Most of these objects were reliquaries or devotional panels, although an important series of ivory caskets with pagan subjects has also been preserved. Byzantine silks, the manufacture of which was a state monopoly, were also eagerly sought and treasured as goods of utmost luxury.
The architecture of the Byzantine Empire was based on the great legacy of Roman formal and technical achievements. Constantinople had been purposely founded as the Christian counterpart and successor to the leadership of the old pagan city of Rome. The new capital was in close contact with the Hellenized East, and the contribution of Eastern culture, though sometimes overstressed, was an important element in the development of its architectural style. The 5th-century basilica of St. John of the Studion, the oldest surviving church in Constantinople, is an early example of Byzantine reliance upon traditional Roman models.
The most imposing achievement of Byzantine architecture is the Church of Holy Wisdom or Hagia Sophia. It was constructed in a short span of five years (532–37) during the reign of Justinian. Hagia Sophia is without a clear antecedent in the architecture of late antiquity, yet it must be accounted as culminating several centuries of experimentation toward the realization of a unified space of monumental dimensions.
Throughout the history of Byzantine religious architecture, the centrally planned structure continued in favor. Such structures, which may show considerable variation in plan, have in common the predominance of a central domed space, flanked and partly sustained by smaller domes and half-domes spanning peripheral spaces.
Although many of the important buildings of Constantinople have been destroyed, impressive examples are still extant throughout the provinces and on the outer fringes of the empire, notably in Bulgaria, Russia, Armenia, and Sicily. A great Byzantine architectural achievement is the octagonal church of San Vitale (consecrated 547) in Ravenna. The church of St. Mark’s in Venice was based on a Byzantine prototype, and Byzantine workmen were employed by Arab rulers in the Holy Land and in Ottonian Germany during the 11th cent.
Secular architecture in the Byzantine Empire has left fewer traces. Foremost among these are the ruins of the 5th-century walls of the city of Constantinople, consisting of an outer and an inner wall, each originally studded with 96 towers. Some of these can still be seen.
They say there are no atheists in the foxhole.
Even fewer when death is certain.
None once the final curtain falls.
God’s Word declares, “The fool hath said in his heart ‘there is no God’” (Psalm 14).
For three decades, until his death in 1953, Josef Stalin was the mass-murdering atheist dictator of Soviet Russia.
He was also a fool.
In his 1994 book, “Can Man Live Without God,” famed Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias recounts a story he heard firsthand from British Journalist Malcomb Muggeridge “that stirred [him] then and still does even yet.”
Muggeridge had collaborated with Svetlana Stalin, Josef Stalin’s daughter, on a BBC documentary about her God-hating father. She recounted his last act of defiant rebellion against the Creator: “[A]s Stalin lay dying, plagued with terrifying hallucinations, he suddenly sat halfway up in bed, clenched his fist toward the heavens once more, fell back upon his pillow, and was dead.”
“[H]is one last gesture,” observed Zacharias, “was a clenched fist toward God, his heart as cold and hard as steel.”
In my experience it is something common among atheists: an inexplicable, incongruent and visceral hatred for the very God they imagine does not exist.
Indeed, Romans 1:20 notes, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
Yet excuses they make.
Psalm 19:1 likewise observes: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”
The manifest intentionality and fine-tuning of all creation reveals design of breathtaking complexity. The Creator is of incalculable intelligence and infinite splendor. As I see it, atheism provides a case study in willful suspension of disbelief – all to escape, as the God-denier imagines it, accountability for massaging the libertine impulse.
“Wouldn’t the atheist ‘suspend belief’?” you might ask.
No, the phrase is properly “suspension of disbelief.” It is defined as “a willingness to suspend one’s critical faculties and believe the unbelievable; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment.”
In the case of the atheist, or the “freethinker,” as they paradoxically prefer, that which is unbelievable is that somehow everything came from nothing – that there is no uncaused first cause; that God does not exist, even as knowledge of His being is indelibly written on every human heart and proved by all He has made.
Be they theist, atheist or anti-theist, on this nearly all scientists agree: In the beginning there was nothing. There was no time, space or matter. There wasn’t even emptiness, only nothingness. Well, nothing natural anyway.
Then: bang! Everything. Nonexistence became existence. Nothing became, in less than an instant, our inconceivably vast and finely tuned universe governed by what mankind would later call – after we, too, popped into existence from nowhere, fully armed with conscious awareness and the ability to think, communicate and observe – “natural law” or “physics.”
Time, space, earth, life and, finally, human life were not.
And then they were.
New research suggests that streaming is boosting vinyl sales – but a lot of records being bought aren’t actually getting played.
This Saturday is the annual Record Store Day extravaganza, once again set to be marked with a slew of limited edition records, live performances and in-store events. But new research suggests that while more people, notably young people, are buying into vinyl, a lot of them aren’t actually playing the records.
An ICM poll, shared with the BBC, says 48% of people who bought vinyl last month have yet to play the record. Some 7% of those surveyed said they didn’t even own a turntable, while a further 41% said they have one but don’t use it. We humbly suggest people could rectify this situation with one of our recommended turntables.
Jordan Katende, a student, told BBC News: “I have vinyls [sic] in my room but it’s more for decor. I don’t actually play them.”
Meanwhile, while the record resurgence was driven by a desire to own something physical, nearly half of vinyl buyers (45%) said they had listened to the record on a streaming service before buying the physical copy, proving people still buy after they try – great news for Spotify and co.
As for where people are spending their money, despite the popularity of Record Store Day, which last year saw sales up 742% compared to the previous Saturday, only 7% of music is actually bought from a high street record shop. ICM reports 73% of music is bought online, with Amazon accounting for 27% of all music sales.
How old are vinyl buyers? The research reports around 33% of vinyl consumers fall in the 25-34 age bracket, while 22% of buyers are aged 35-44. 16% of vinyl buyers are aged 18-24. The poll also suggests – set face to ‘stunned’ – that more men than women are buying vinyl, but only just. Around 8% of men surveyed had bought vinyl in the last month, compared to around 5% of women.
In case there was any doubt, Andrew Wiseman, head of ICM Unlimited, told the BBC that vinyl remained relatively niche: “It is still the case that less than 1 in 10 people are buying vinyl, and we shouldn’t forget that it’s still a relatively small part of the market.”