Luke Barnes and Geraint Lewis write: The recent BICEP2 observations – of swirls in the polarisation of the cosmic microwave background – have been proclaimed as many things, from evidence of the Big Bang and gravitational waves to something strange called the multiverse.
The multiverse theory is that our universe is but one of a vast, variegated ensemble of other universes. We don’t know how many pieces there are to the multiverse but estimates suggest there many be squillions of them.
But (if they exist) there has not been enough time since our cosmic beginning for light from these other universes to reach us. They are beyond our cosmic horizon and thus in principle unobservable.
How, then, can cosmologists say they have seen evidence of them?
Unobservable entities aren’t necessarily out-of-bounds for science. For example, protons and neutrons are made of subatomic particles called quarks. While they cannot be observed directly, their existence and properties are inferred from the way particles behave when smashed together.
But there is no such luxury with the multiverse. No signals from from other universes have or will ever bother our telescopes.
While there is some debate about what actually makes a scientific theory, we should at least ask if the multiverse theory is testable? Does it make predictions that we can test in a laboratory or with our telescopes? [Continue reading…]