Skeptics in the Pub: Life, the Multiverse, and Everything
The past century has revolutionized our understanding of the universe; how it began, how it is evolving, and ultimately, how it will end. The story begins in 1916, the year that Einstein published his general theory of relativity. The theory describes the large scale structure of the universe in terms of the geometry of curved space.
As physicists and astronomers probe the universe with ever more precision, they have discovered new truths, such as the flat geometry of the universe. But they have also discovered that the universe harbours surprises, such as the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy. Einstein's self-described "biggest blunder", the introduction of the cosmological constant into general relativity, may be the key to understanding dark energy, the force driving the accelerated expansion of the universe.
Nearly a century after the discovery of general relativity, we have yet to reconcile the theory with quantum mechanics. String theory is an attempt to reconcile general relativity with quantum mechanics. But the astronomical number of possible geometries have turned string theory from a "theory of everything" into a "theory of anything". When this is considered in the context of the anthropic principle, it may imply that our universe is not unique. As remarkable as it seems, physicists and cosmologists are seriously considering the possibility that we may be part of a vast multiverse.
Dana Peters is one of the original members of the Ottawa Skeptics. If you enjoyed his previous talks on "extraterrestrial intelligence", "the evolution of empathy", and "metacognition", be sure to catch this one on the topic of cosmology.