New Research Shows Other Universes May be Able to Support Life

The multiverse is an idea that our universe is just one of many and it has long intrigued scientists, fiction writers and philosophical thinkers alike.

It’s a heated debate among the research community because many argue it is impossible to test. However, most proponents of the hypothesis have tended to agree that the majority of alternative or parallel universes would be inhospitable to life as we know it.

But now new research performed by scientists from Durham University, Western Sydney University and the University of Western Australia has shown that other universes may, in fact, be able to support life—if they exist.

Jaime Salcido, a postgraduate student at Durham’s Institute for Computational Cosmology, told Newsweek that the multiverse theory suggests that our universe is only one of many, baby universes being born like bubbles in a bigger multiverse, with a wide range of physical laws and fundamental constants. Only a tiny fraction of the baby universes are born such that they have the right amount of dark energy—the mysterious force that is accelerating the expansion of the universe—to be hospitable for life.

Salcido added that the existence of life seems to be based on a small number of fine-tuned fundamental physical constants, like the strength of gravity and the amount of dark energy. The formation of stars and galaxies is the result of a tug-of-war between these values: gravity causing matter to clump together, the dark energy causing the universe to fly apart.

Prior theories about the origin of our universe predicted the presence of much more dark energy than scientists think exists; the best estimates suggest that the theoretical energy makes up about 70 percent of all energy in the universe.

If our universe had more dark energy than this, there would be such fast expansion that matter would be diluted to the point where no planets, stars or galaxies could form and humans, along with all other life, would never have evolved. That is why some scientists have suggested the multiverse theory as an explanation for the “unique” amount of dark energy in our universe.

As Salcido said, the multiverse theory attempts to explain these fine-tuned constants as a lottery. We have a lucky ticket and live in the universe that forms beautiful galaxies that allow for life as we know it.

To learn more, the researchers used one of the most realistic computer simulations of the observable universe known as the EAGLE (Evolution and Assembly of GaLaxies and their Environments).

The researchers adjusted the physical constants of the simulation, discovering that even when they added up to a hundred times more dark energy than what is indirectly observed in our universe, planets and stars were still able to form.

Salcido explained that their recent computer simulations of the universe, the EAGLE project, have been successful at explaining many observed properties of galaxies in our universe. He continued by saying their research shows that even if there was much more dark energy, or even very little, in the universe, then it would only have a minimal effect on star and planet formation, raising the prospect that life could exist throughout the multiverse.

The results, which will be published in two papers in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, cast doubt on the ability of the multiverse theory to explain the observed amount of dark energy in our universe, as reported by the researchers.





Image Credit: Victor Habbick / Shutterstock


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