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← This Remarkable Thing

Steve Zara's Avatar Jump to comment 22 by Steve Zara

Somehow, this has the wrong flavour for me. I don't think it hits the right tone regarding science. The first half seemed to me to almost pour scorn on the supposedly limited scientists who only saw reality as the solar system, and then who only saw reality as our one galaxy.

That's not something to be thought of in any negative way, it's the way science is supposed to work, it's a sign of good science to work with what you can observe as much as you can. So, I think that could have been pitched better.

Then we come on to the matter of multiverses. The more we try and think about how multiverses may or may not help us understand our place in reality, the more confusing things become. This is especially the case with universes that can never be linked to us in space or time. It may be fascinating to contemplate them, but in terms of understanding why we are here, they are of no consequence. That seems odd at first, as we can try and picture an infinite sample of universes, of which ours is just one. But that is a false picture, as what can 'sample' possibly mean if tries to reach beyond our space and time? Even when we are dealing with "universes" that we might, given time, be able to see because they are beyond our visible horizon, we may be stuck with the problem of infinity: talking about sampling from infinity is hard.

Because of these problems with dealing with what reality means in terms of multiverses, I think it's misleading to suggest that they are of any help in understanding why we see things as we do, and why we are here to see things at all. I think we have to find what answers we can within this universe, and if we can't find answers it may be that the questions don't make much sense.

I think realising that there may be limits on what we can know is a better strategy than wandering off into science fiction, even with the best intentions.

Tue, 04 Jan 2011 22:22:40 UTC | #573444