Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Dark times at the multiversity

As usual, the dear old Beeb used eye-catching visuals to piss our scientific heritage up the wall when it threw together this junk. Theories of multiple universes beyond our own and mostly beyond our ken have been around for some time. The subject is complex, stretching over various disciplines from abstruse physics and cosmology to science fiction, where of course it begins and ends like the mythical Ouroboros.

But as any fule kno, multiple universe conjectures are not theories in the scientific sense, simply because they are not testable experimentally. Theories you can’t prove derive their impact from professional chic, dinner-table kudos, book sales, silly TV programmes and social chit-chat. Apart from these essentially social and professional uses, they may as well be dismissed as the garbage they really are. How do I know? Partly because there is no such thing as a multiverse detector and partly because my metaphysical crap-detector tells me so. Sometimes there really is no better way to get a grip on these things.

Too many scientists just don’t get it. Science is supposed to be enlightening – the multiple universe is a dose of darkness we don’t need.


David Duff said...

Let me recommend Michael Frayn's superb book "The Human Touch" which I just know is 'right up your strasse'! In it he rather rubbishes the multi-universe theory but does allow that it might explain the missing sock conundrum. You know, you put all your dirty pairs of socks in the washing machine but somehow when you come to pair them off again later one is missing. Obviously it is in the next universe - down the corridor on the right!

Seriously, Frayn's book is tremendously good.

A K Haart said...

I'll give it a go. I used to work with Michael Frayn's cousin. It's the closest I ever came to a kind of celeb!

James Higham said...

Same old same old, AKH:

are not testable experimentally

So anything not testable experimentally, as in the lab or field, is in the realm of metaphysics and therefore not true, despite all that's been shown in recent days elsewhere that it could very well be true.

Is this an open or closed mind? And what about astronomy, where data from telescopes leads to conjecture about "most likely scenarios"?

Do "most likely scenarios" have no place in your Science?

A K Haart said...

JH - as I see it, the realm of metaphysics is where we have our ideas, whatever they may be, wherever they may take us. They are our framing concepts, the ones we can't prove, but then again we don't have to because we'd end up in an infinite regress. The concept of metaphysics is itself a framing concept.

If metaphysical ideas are supposed to be scientific, then at some point they have to be kicked out of metaphysical realm in order to be physically tested. They aren't really framing concepts, they are just early-stage theories about the physical world.

Demetrius said...

I've always liked the idea of multiple universes, especially the thought that there might be Earth run by sensible people out there somewhere.

A K Haart said...

D - if the physicists are right (which they obviously aren't) then there will be an infinite number of Earths run by people even less sensible than our lot. Aargh!