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Physics, Metaphysics and Cosmology Collide in New E-Book, Possibilities in Parallel: Seeking the Multiverse

Possibilities in Parallel: Seeking the Multiverse

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 [...]

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Critical Opalescence

Physicists Find a Backdoor Way to Do Experiments on Exotic Gravitational Physics

The whole point of an explanation is to reduce something you don’t know to something you do. By that standard, you don’t gain much by explaining anything in terms of black holes. Appealing to the most mysterious objects known to science as an explanation sounds like using one mystery to explain another. Yet this is [...]

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Critical Opalescence

When You Fall into a Black Hole, How Long Have You Got?

In chatting with colleagues after a talk this week, Joe Polchinski said he’d love to fall into a black hole. Most theoretical physicists would. It’s not because they have some peculiar death wish or because science funding prospects are so dark these days. They are just insanely curious about what would happen. Black holes are [...]

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Critical Opalescence

How Do You Count Parallel Universes? You Can’t Just Go 1, 2, 3, …

Cosmologists have been thinking for years that our universe might be just one bubble amid countless bubbles floating in a formless void. And when they say “countless,” they really mean it. Those universes are damned hard to count. Angels on a pin are nothing to this. There’s no unambiguous way to count items in an [...]

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Critical Opalescence

String Theory in 26 Seconds [Video]

Someone once asked me to describe string theory in 26 seconds, so, a couple of months ago, I went down to Goleta Beach with my iPhone and recorded this little video. It’s kind of spacey, I admit. Soundtrack and dog were entirely unintentional.

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Critical Opalescence

Is Dark Matter a Glimpse of a Deeper Level of Reality?

Two years ago several of my Sci Am colleagues and I had an intense email exchange over a period of weeks, trying to figure out what to make of a new paper by string theorist Erik Verlinde. I don’t think I’ve ever been so flummoxed by physicists’ reactions to a paper. Mathematically it could hardly [...]

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Observations

President Obama Awards National Medals of Science and Technology at the White House

“You have improved our lives in ways that are practical and inspirational,” said President Barack Obama. He saluted the top U.S. researchers with the highest honors bestowed by the U.S. government, the National Science and Technology Medals. At the White House ceremony on February 1, he honored 12 winners for the National Medals of Science [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

Belief in multiple universes requires exceptional vision. So does belief in telepathy.

The multiverse, a psychologically pleasing, logical elegant entity that is complete fiction as of now (Image: Proetcontra)

I exaggerate with the title of this post, but only slightly. The title is a reaction to a strange article on multiple universes written by Tom Siegfried at Science News. It’s the kind of article that harms the cause of a field and causes the rest of us to take it less seriously . For [...]

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