The Limits of Our Imagination
An excerpt from Many Worlds In One, By Alex Vilenkin
A striking feature of the new worldview is the existence of multiple “other worlds” beyond our observable region. Some of them are rather uncontroversial. Very few people, for example, would question the reality of other O-regions, even though they cannot be observed. We do have some circumstantial evidence for multiple island universes with diverse properties. As for the other, disconnected spacetimes that nucleated out of nothing, we have no idea how to test their existence obeservationally.
The picture of quantum tunneling from nothing raises another intriguing question. The tunneling process is governed by the same fundamental laws that describe the subsequent evolution of the universe. If follows that the laws should be “there” even prior to the universe itself. Does this mean that the laws are not mere descriptions of reality and can have an independent existence of their own? In the absence of space, time, and matter, what tablets could they be written upon? The laws are expressed in the form of mathematical equations. If the medium of mathematics is the mind, does this mean that mind should predate the universe?
This takes us far into the unknown, all the way to the abyss of great mystery. It is hard to imagine how we can ever get past this point. But as before, that may just reflect the limits of our imagination.
Alexander Velekin is Professor of Physics and Director of the Institute of Cosmology at Tufts University. A theoretical physicist who has been working in the field of cosmology for 25 years, Vilenkin has written over 150 papers and is responsible for introducing the ideas of eternal inflation and quantum creation of the universe from nothing. His work has been featured in numerous newspaper and magazine articles in US, Europe, Russia, and Japan, and in many popular books.
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*All of the excerpts on my blog are from books that have stayed with me for some reason—because the concept was awe inspiring, changed how I view the world, was beautifully expressed, or all three. I personally curate all of the book excerpts, and I always obtain the author’s final approval before posting their work on my blog.