Multiverses

Brian Greene has a nice, easy-to-follow summation of the multiverse theory on The Daily Beast.  He ends with this (emphasis added):

Years ago, Carl Sagan emphasized that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. So, can we gather evidence supporting a proposal that invokes other universes?

Because the other universes would lie beyond what we can observe, it might seem that the answer is no, placing the multiverse outside the bounds of science. But that’s too quick. Evidence for a proposal can be amassed even when some of its important features are inaccessible.

Basically, that last sentence is the whole purpose behind taking Forteana seriously. Of course it can also justify following some profoundly stupid ideas, but there is enough that has already been observed in the UFO phenomenon, for one, that allows for a “proposal.” Unfortunately, there’s no math equation for the UFO phenomenon like there is with the multiverse theory.  Though there is the Drake Equation.

I’m reading Sagan’s Contact (finally). He makes two important points about ET intelligence:

  1. If life is plentiful in the universe, shouldn’t Earth be bombarded by signals from many different technological civilizations? (Fermi Paradox)
  2. If it’s a “rule” that advanced civilizations are supposed to follow the Prime Directive and not tamper with a less-advanced species, isn’t there a chance of one rule-breaker out of the billions of possible civilizations?

Good questions.  Some would say #2 is happening, but no UFO is making itself demonstrably obvious for weeks at a time so people can study it and take pictures.

That said, I’ll rewrite Greene’s last paragraph, replacing multiverse with UFO.

As with all rational bets, high risk comes with the potential for high reward. During the past five centuries we’ve used the power of observation and mathematical calculation to shatter misconceptions. From a quaint, small, earth-centered universe to one filled with billions of galaxies, the journey has been both thrilling and humbling. We’ve been compelled to relinquish sacred belief in our own centrality, but with such cosmic demotion we’ve demonstrated the capacity of the human intellect to reach far beyond the confines of ordinary experience to reveal extraordinary truth. The UFO proposal might be wrong. But it might also be the next step in this journey, unveiling a breathtaking panorama of universes populating a vast cosmic landscape. For some scientists, including me, that possibility makes the risk well worth taking.

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