The Hidden Reality

Brian Greene’s The Hidden Reality
The Hidden Reality is an excellent book for anyone. It is by no means a prerequisite that you must have taken a college-level physics course, and if you have ever wondered about the physical basis for believing in other worlds, other versions of you, or vast distances in space or time, this is a wonderful book for your consideration.

Timely note: This book contains an excellent discussion of the work showing that we live in an inflationary universe, which was honored three days ago with the announcement of the Nobel Prize in Physics.  This work shows that space in the universe is expanding at an increasing rate.

Some of my favorite ideas that were discussed in the book include:

1. Quantum multiverse – one interpretation of the mathematics that describes events on the smallest scales is that every event is not preordained but is probabilistic and each of the realities (of all that could happen) actually are realized in alternate universes.

2. Ultimate multiverse – that if we can think it, it exists. This idea is based on the principle of fecundity and was proposed by Robert Nozick in his “Philosophical Explanations.” I have referenced Nozick and his Epistemology before here. It is a mind-bending take on reality, but together with it and the anthropic principle, an argument can be made that the construction “every possible universe” is actually “every actual universe.”

Max Tegmark proposed the following (highly paraphrased) argument for this kind of multiverse:

  • A. Assuming that there is a Theory of Everything (a physical theory that can be used to describe all events in the observable universe), it must be writable in a formal system; otherwise, it would not be a theory.
  • B. But if it is a logical statement, it must itself be subject to the rules of mathematics/logic.
  • C. Therefore, there is no difference, in principle, between the mathematics associated with the theory of everything and everything itself.
  • D. Therefore math is reality.

The Ultimate multiverse is then the set of all the (different) universes which correspond to each mathematical idea/statement/system anyone could dream up.  The universe which we are in is just the universe for one particular mathematical system.  We happen to observe this one and think it is unique because it is just the solution to a mathematical equation which supports galaxies/planets/intelligent life.

This reminds me of the lyrics to “Neverending Math Equation” by Modest Mouse: “The universe works on a math equation / that never even ever really ends in the end

Check out the Wikipedia Entry on Multiverse‘s here if you have a moment!

Words:

  • catoptric – of or relating to a mirror, a reflector, or reflection.
  • eyetooth – canine (tooth)
  • apoplexy – unconsciousness or incapacity resulting from a cerebral hemorrhage or stroke.
  • MacGuffin – A MacGuffin (sometimes McGuffin or maguffin) is “a plot element that catches the viewers’ attention or drives the plot of a work of fiction”.[1] The defining aspect of a MacGuffin is that the major players in the story are (at least initially) willing to do and sacrifice almost anything to obtain it, regardless of what the MacGuffin actually is. In fact, the specific nature of the MacGuffin may be ambiguous, undefined, generic, left open to interpretation or otherwise completely unimportant to the plot. Common examples are money, victory, glory, survival, a source of power, a potential threat, or it may simply be something entirely unexplained.
  • cynosure: a person or thing that is the center of attention or admiration : the Queen was the cynosure of all eyes.
  • mellifluous – sweet or musical; pleasant to hear: the voice was mellifluous and smooth.
  • fecund – producing or capable of producing an abundance of offspring or new growth; fertile : a lush and fecund garden | figurative her fecund imagination.
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I am a math and science teacher at a boarding school in Delaware.

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Posted in Advanced Chemistry, Brian Greene, Multiverse, Robert Nozick

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