Saturday, December 30, 2006

Hawking rewrites history... backwards

But in the first instants of the Big Bang, there existed a superposition of ever more different versions of the Universe, instead of a unique history. And most crucially, Hertog says that "our current Universe has features frozen in from this early quantum mixture".

In other words, some of these alternative histories have left their imprint behind. This is why Hertog and Hawking insist that their 'top-down' cosmology is testable. Hertog says that the theory predicts the pattern of the variations in intensity of microwave background radiation, the afterglow of the Big Bang now imprinted on the sky, which reveal fluctuations in the fireball of the nascent Universe. These variations are minute, but space-based detectors have measured them ever more accurately over the past several years.

[. . .]

The theory also suggests an answer to the puzzle of why some of the 'constants of nature' seem finely tuned to a value that allows life to evolve. If we start from where we are now, it is obvious that the current Universe must 'select' those histories that lead to these conditions. Otherwise we simply wouldn't be here.

(Via Sentient Developments.)

Could some of the never-were universes posited by Hawking have produced intelligent life? It's clear that Hawking and Hertog aren't proposing anything so extravagant; at best, they argue, the microwave background radiation -- the so-called "afterglow of creation" -- will reveal evidence of fossil universes entwined with our own.

Still, it's tempting to consider a ramped-up version of Hawking's model that allows all possible timelines to coexist and interact with a contemporary observer. A model of this sort might be able to shed light on "paranormal" happenings ranging from precognition to sightings of "aliens."

I'm not about to propose a formal theory that explains how this might be possible, but it's worth noting that even jaded Forteans still cling to a theoretically antiquated view of the Cosmos. Could a quantum approach yield a better explanatory paradigm?

1 comment:

W.M. Bear said...

In effect, says Hertog, the present 'selects' the past.

In any other context (other than a Hawking theory, that is), I suspect "sceptics" would jump all over this as being an example of "reverse causality." Personally, though, I have no problem with the present selecting the past, especially since this is a venerable occult principle.