August 3, 2011

Researchers Resurrect ‘Multiverse’ Theory

Researchers have resurrected the theory that other universes lie within "bubbles" of space and time, known as the "Multiverse" theory.

Studies of the low-temperature glow left from the Big Bang suggest that these "bubble universes" have left marks on our own.

The theory is popular in modern physics, but experimental tests have been hard to perform.

A team of scientists used data from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) to help reignite this theory.

This probe measures detail of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), which s the faint glow left from the formation of the Universe.

The multiverse theory said these bubble universes are popping into and out of existence and colliding all the time, with the space between them rapidly expanding.

Hiranya Peiris, a cosmologist at University College London, and her colleagues say that when these universes are created adjacent to our own, they may leave a characteristic pattern in the CMB.

"I'd heard about this 'multiverse' for years and years, and I never took it seriously because I thought it's not testable," Dr Peiris told BBC News. "I was just amazed by the idea that you can test for all these other universes out there - it's just mind-blowing."

The team used a computer program that found four particular areas that look like signatures of the bubble universes. 

Dr Peiris said the four regions were "not at a high statistical significance," but that more data would be needed to be assured of the existence of the "multiverse".

"Finding just four patches is not necessarily going to give you a good probability on the full sky," she explained to BBC News. "That's not statistically strong enough to either rule it out or to say that there is a collision."

The team said the data from the Planck telescope used in the study would help place the theory on more solid ground. 

BBC reported that George Efstathiou, director of the Kavli Institute of Cosmology at the University of Cambridge, said the work was "the first serious attempt to search for something like this... from the methodology point of view it's interesting".

Dr Daniel Mortlock, a co-author from the Department of Physics at Imperial College London, said in a press release: "It's all too easy to over-interpret interesting patterns in random data (like the 'face on Mars' that, when viewed more closely, turned out to just a normal mountain), so we took great care to assess how likely it was that the possible bubble collision signatures we found could have arisen by chance."

The research will be published in Physical Review D.


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