Tuesday, November 27, 2007

SOC Science: Parallel Universes

Evidence for a parallel universe?
DNA Genetics, Paternity, CSI & General Science Tuesday November 27, 2007
Today’s article is not about DNA, although its far-reaching implications prompted us to share this story with our readers.
Last August, astronomers working on the analysis of data being acquired by NASA’s WMAP (Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe) satellite announced that they found a huge void in the universe. A void is a region of space that has much less material (stars, nebulae, dust and other material) than the average. Since our universe is relatively heterogeneous, empty spaces are not rare, but in this case the enormous magnitude of the hole is way outside the expected range. The hole found in the constellation of Eridanus is about a billion light years across, which is roughly 10,000 times as large as our galaxy or 400 times the distance to Andromeda, the closest “large” galaxy.
The dimension of the hole is so big that at first glance, it results impossible to explain under the current cosmological theories, although scientists put forward some explanations based on certain theoretical models that might predict the existence of “giant knots” in space known as topological defects.
However, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill physics Professor Laura Mersini-Houghton made a staggering claim. She says, “Standard cosmology cannot explain such a giant cosmic hole” and goes further with the ground-breaking hypothesis that the huge void is “… the unmistakable imprint of another universe beyond the edge of our own“.
(Article continues below)
The idea of alternative, or parallel universes has been around for quite a while and has provided considerable inspiration for Sci-Fi literature and sparked endless philosophical debate, but although begin seriously considered within the scientific realm it never crossed the limits of speculative of purely theoretical grounds. Perhaps until now. If Mersini-Houghton is right, Eridanus’ giant hole would be the first experimental evidence for the existence of another universe. The implications of this possibility are obviously of huge importance for everybody, but it also has further relevance for the astrophysics community as it would bring support for the hotly debated string theory and other central debates.
But Mersini-Houghton and colleagues’ theory of entangled universes make testable predictions, providing the opportunity to confirm or refute the claim as more data arrive to the astronomers’ computers. Her model predicts the existence of two voids rather than one, one in each hemisphere of our universe. The one that has been found by WMAP’s data lies in the Northern hemisphere. They expect new data will show a second similar void in the Southern side. This and other cutting-edge experimental projects testing Mersini-Houghton’s ideas will tell us whether a new era in cosmological thinking has indeed arrived.

No comments: