Possibilities in Parallel by Scientific American Editors
Seeking the Multiverse

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Possibilities in Parallel: Seeking the Multiverse by the Editors of Scientific American Parallel universes are a staple of science fiction, and it's no wonder. They allow us to explore the question, "what if?" in a way that lets us step completely outside of the world we know, rather than question how that world might have turned out differently. For cosmologists, the question isn't "what if the South won the Civil War?" but "what if the constants that make up the fundamental building blocks of physics were different?" Physicists argue that any slight change to the laws of physics would mean a disruption in the evolution of the universe, and thus our existence. Take gravity, for example: too strong and stars would burn through their fuel far more quickly. If the universe expanded too fast, matter would spread out too thin for galaxies to form. The list of examples goes on – to the point where the laws of physics might seem finely tuned to make our existence possible. Short of a supernatural or divine explanation, one possibility is that our universe isn’t the only one. That's the idea explored in this eBook, Possibilities in Parallel: Seeking the Multiverse. In Section 1, we explore why scientists think other universes could exist. After that, we get a look at the implications. Is it possible to have life in a universe with different physical laws? It would seem so. In “Cracking Open a Window,” George Musser discusses the possibility that our universe has more than three spatial dimensions – the others happen to be very small. Other articles, including “The Universe’s Unseen Dimensions,” analyze the idea that our universe is one of many "branes" – three-dimensional structures stretched out over a higher-dimensional space. The concept of a parallel universe also touches time travel, and then there's the question of what the term "parallel universe" actually means. It's a triumph of the sciences that the very question of why the universe looks as it does can be asked at all. There are currently several possibilities for a multiverse, if it exists. Time and a lot of scientific spadework will reveal which one is right – and get us closer to answering those metaphysical questions: what if, why us, why now?

About Scientific American Editors

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Founded in 1845, Scientific American is the longest continuously published magazine in the US and the home of the most exciting authors presenting the most dynamic ideas in science today. As the leading popular source and authority on science, technology, and innovation, Scientific American’s award-winning scientist-authored content engages, educates and inspires current and future generations of curious citizens and public and private sector leaders. Together with scientificamerican.com, Scientific American MIND and 14 local language editions around the world, Scientific American gives readers unique access to the most important insights and developments in science and technology in the world today.
Published May 20, 2013 by Scientific American. 191 pages
Genres: Professional & Technical, Science & Math. Non-fiction

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