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Are We One of Many Universes? MIT Physicist Says "Yes"
Daily Galaxy ^ | 2/18/11 | Casey Kazan

Posted on 02/19/2011 1:59:12 AM PST by LibWhacker

Modern cosmology theory holds that our universe may be just one in a vast collection of universes known as the multiverse. MIT physicist Alan Guth has suggested that new universes (known as “pocket universes”) are constantly being created, but they cannot be seen from our universe.

In this view, “nature gets a lot of tries — the universe is an experiment that’s repeated over and over again, each time with slightly different physical laws, or even vastly different physical laws,” says Jaffe.

Some of these universes would collapse instants after forming; in others, the forces between particles would be so weak they could not give rise to atoms or molecules. However, if conditions were suitable, matter would coalesce into galaxies and planets, and if the right elements were present in those worlds, intelligent life could evolve. Some physicists have theorized that only universes in which the laws of physics are “just so” could support life, and that if things were even a little bit different from our world, intelligent life would be impossible. In that case, our physical laws might be explained “anthropically,” meaning that they are as they are because if they were otherwise, no one would be around to notice them.

MIT physics professor Robert Jaffe and his collaborators felt that this proposed anthropic explanation should be subjected to more careful scrutiny, and decided to explore whether universes with different physical laws could support life.

The MIT physicists have showed that universes quite different from ours still have elements similar to carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, and could therefore evolve life forms quite similar to us, even when the masses of elementary particles called quarks are dramatically altered.

Jaffe and his collaborators felt that this proposed anthropic explanation should be subjected to more careful scrutiny, so they decided to explore whether universes with different physical laws could support life. Unlike most other studies, in which varying only one constant usually produces an inhospitable universe, they examined more than one constant.

Whether life exists elsewhere in our universe is a longstanding mystery. But for some scientists, there’s another interesting question: could there be life in a universe significantly different from our own?

In work recently featured in a cover story in Scientific American, Jaffe, former MIT postdoc, Alejandro Jenkins, and recent MIT graduate Itamar Kimchi showed that universes quite different from ours still have elements similar to carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, and could therefore evolve life forms quite similar to us. Even when the masses of the elementary particles are dramatically altered, life may find a way.

“You could change them by significant amounts without eliminating the possibility of organic chemistry in the universe,” says Jenkins.

Although bizarre life forms might exist in universes different from ours, Jaffe and his collaborators decided to focus on life based on carbon chemistry. They defined as “congenial to life” those universes in which stable forms of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen would exist.

“If you don’t have a stable entity with the chemistry of hydrogen, you’re not going to have hydrocarbons, or complex carbohydrates, and you’re not going to have life,” says Jaffe. “The same goes for carbon and oxygen. Beyond those three we felt the rest is detail."

They set out to see what might happen to those elements if they altered the masses of elementary particles called quarks. There are six types of quarks, which are the building blocks of protons, neutrons and electrons. The MIT team focused on “up”, “down” and “strange” quarks, the most common and lightest quarks, which join together to form protons and neutrons and closely related particles called “hyperons.”

In our universe, the down quark is about twice as heavy as the up quark, resulting in neutrons that are 0.1 percent heavier than protons. Jaffe and his colleagues modeled one family of universes in which the down quark was lighter than the up quark, and protons were up to a percent heavier than neutrons. In this scenario, hydrogen would no longer be stable, but its slightly heavier isotopes deuterium or tritium could be. An isotope of carbon known as carbon-14 would also be stable, as would a form of oxygen, so the organic reactions necessary for life would be possible.

The team found a few other congenial universes, including a family where the up and strange quarks have roughly the same mass (in our universe, strange quarks are much heavier and can only be produced in high-energy collisions), while the down quark would be much lighter. In such a universe, atomic nuclei would be made of neutrons and a hyperon called the “sigma minus,” which would replace protons. They published their findings in the journal Physical Review D last year.

Jaffe and his collaborators focused on quarks because they know enough about quark interactions to predict what will happen when their masses change. However, “any attempt to address the problem in a broader context is going to be very difficult,” says Jaffe, because physicists are limited in their ability to predict the consequences of changing most other physical laws and constants.

A group of researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has done related studies examining whether congenial universes could arise even while lacking one of the four fundamental forces of our universe — the weak nuclear force, which enables the reactions that turn neutrons into protons, and vice versa. The researchers showed that tweaking the other three fundamental forces could compensate for the missing weak nuclear force and still allow stable elements to be formed.

That study and the MIT work are different from most other studies in this area in that they examined more than one constant. “Usually people vary one constant and look at the results, which is different than if you vary multiple constants,” says Mark Wise, professor of physics at Caltech, who was not involved in the research. Varying only one constant usually produces an inhospitable universe, which can lead to the erroneous conclusion that any other congenial universes are impossible.

One physical parameter that does appear to be extremely finely tuned is the cosmological constant — a measure of the pressure exerted by empty space, which causes the universe to expand or contract. When the constant is positive, space expands, when negative, the universe collapses on itself. In our universe, the cosmological constant is positive but very small — any larger value would cause the universe to expand too rapidly for galaxies to form. However, Wise and his colleagues have shown that it is theoretically possible that changes in primordial cosmological density perturbations could compensate at least for small changes to the value of the cosmological constant.

In the end, there is no way to know for sure what other universes are out there, or what life they may hold. But that will likely not stop physicists from exploring the possibilities, and in the process learning more about our own universe.


TOPICS: Astronomy; Science
KEYWORDS: mit; multiverse; physicist; science; stringtheory; universe
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1 posted on 02/19/2011 1:59:18 AM PST by LibWhacker
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To: LibWhacker
In the end, there is no way to know for sure what other universes are out there, or what life they may hold. But that will likely not stop physicists from exploring the possibilities, and in the process learning more about our own universe.

"...there is no way to know..."

"...that will likely not stop physicists from exploring the possibilities..."

I agree that there is no way to know. Therefore, there can be no "exploring." What they are doing is speculating about the existence of something which cannot be proven or disproven. How does this help us to "learn more about our own universe"? This is not science. It is not even science fiction. It is meaningless fantasy, a total waste of time.

2 posted on 02/19/2011 2:05:59 AM PST by Rocky (REPEAL IT!)
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To: Rocky
This is not science. ... yeah ...
It is not even science fiction. ... yeah ...
It is meaningless fantasy, ... well, OK ...
a total waste of time. ... now hold on a minute!
3 posted on 02/19/2011 2:15:32 AM PST by dr_lew
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To: LibWhacker

A thesis which, by definition, cannot be verified, quantified or falseified. And they call this science?


4 posted on 02/19/2011 2:22:53 AM PST by circlecity
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To: LibWhacker

5 posted on 02/19/2011 2:24:45 AM PST by central_va (I won't be reconstructed, and I do not give a damn.)
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To: LibWhacker
They saved themselves with the ending sentence (fragment);

There is no shortage of material to study or contemplate, already "here".

6 posted on 02/19/2011 2:26:20 AM PST by BlueDragon
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To: Rocky
Absolutely correct and well-said.

Science is about disprovable hypotheseses.

But a many-Universe theory isn't disprovable. Moreover: it is strictly non-provable, which puts such a theory in a very special class of short-bus scientific endeavours. This is because - by definition - a different Universe must be orthogonal in all ways to this Universe.

So if you can detect or observe any part of a 'different Universe' then - by definition - what you have observed is actually part of your own Universe..

So for instance: different dimensions, different 'branes', phase-spaces of existance with different physical laws - if you can find them, then they are not a different Universe - they are simply proofs that the current Universe is more extended and more extraordinary than previously thought.

7 posted on 02/19/2011 2:29:41 AM PST by agere_contra (Historically every time the Left has 'expanded its moral imagination' the results have been horrific)
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To: LibWhacker

What is religion, if not a belief that there is a separate universe of which we can be conscious, and in which we can spend time?


8 posted on 02/19/2011 2:34:42 AM PST by Tax Government (Democrat: "I'm driving to Socialism at 95 mph." Republican: "Observe the speed limit.")
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To: Rocky
Having said all that, the non-provable fantasy that is the many-universe theory is very important to certain types of scientist.

This is because it allows them to run from the glaringly obvious conclusions of the Strong Anthropic Principle.

In brief, the Strong Anthropic Principle concerns the colossal variable space that a Universe might have - and how the Universe in fact has exactly the correct variable set that allows:

* Three dimensional space to exist for 9+ Billion years

* Protonic matter to exist for 9+ Billion years

* Atoms to exist for 9+ Billion years

* Carbon and iron to exist

* Life to exist in any way, shape or form.

Example: vary one single nuclear resonance value by a vanishingly small fraction, and Carbon would be as rare as Mendelevium.

Because the Strong Anthropic Principle points directly to 'Intelligent Design', certain kinds of scientists instead insist that there must be quadrillions of different Universes sampling all parts of the Universe variable space - and that we happen to inhabit the only one of those quadrillions of Universes where life can exist.

Which is (as I say) non-disprovable, and also non-provable. Multiple Universe Theory requires a level of belief that e.g. Christian belief does not.

For instance: Christianity could be proved absolutely to all unbelievers in the next four minutes by the Second Coming. But Multiple Universe Theory cannot be proven - ever - not even after the last syllable of recorded time.

9 posted on 02/19/2011 2:49:30 AM PST by agere_contra (Historically every time the Left has 'expanded its moral imagination' the results have been horrific)
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To: LibWhacker
Well duh!

Many who have had a near death experience witnessed the many apertures that led to and away from the light.

They weren't going to or from the same locations for heaven's sake!

10 posted on 02/19/2011 2:57:26 AM PST by Happy Rain ("Implementing Obamacare now is like arresting motorists for driving sober--there ain't no such law.")
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To: LibWhacker

Every time I see Obama reading from his teleprompter...

It is obvious, there are alternate universes.


11 posted on 02/19/2011 2:57:26 AM PST by Cringing Negativism Network (Palin / Trump 2012 - America First)
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To: Tax Government
What is religion, if not a belief that there is a separate universe of which we can be conscious, and in which we can spend time?

It's a fair question. A religious theory and Multiple Universe Theory differ in this: the other Universes predicated by MUT are places that, even if they exist, cannot ever be interacted with.

Even if MUT were true (and how could we ever know?) we could not ever spend time there, in the same rigorous sense that 1 cannot equal 2.

But a religious theory, if it is in fact a true religious theory, can be realized. One day, we may indeed find ourselves in Paradise.

12 posted on 02/19/2011 2:59:52 AM PST by agere_contra (Historically every time the Left has 'expanded its moral imagination' the results have been horrific)
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To: Cringing Negativism Network
An excellent hypothesis for an intersection of universes.
13 posted on 02/19/2011 3:03:52 AM PST by no-to-illegals (Please God, Bless and Protect Our Men and Women in Uniform with Victory. Amen.)
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To: LibWhacker

Ok... am I the only knumbskull? How can there be more than 1 and still be a Universe?

TT


14 posted on 02/19/2011 3:11:28 AM PST by TexasTransplant (I got your Alla Akbar and your 72 Virgins... when ya wanna meet up?)
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To: BlueDragon

That is my Favorite Picture ... my new monitor however does not ever get me the detail that my old one did, or I just don’t have the right image.

Da Vinci has the most Famous drawing the Vitruvian Man and the Most Famous Painting the Mona Lisa but the most incredible picture,the most mind blowing important image to date is the Hubble Deep Space Picture ... and it’s Billions of Years Older as well.

TT


15 posted on 02/19/2011 3:21:55 AM PST by TexasTransplant (I got your Alla Akbar and your 72 Virgins... when ya wanna meet up?)
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To: TexasTransplant
the most mind blowing important image to date is the Hubble Deep Space Picture ... and it’s Billions of Years Older as well.

It is fun looking back in time billions of years, then comparing the present to the past. Makes one wonder what is going on in the present. More precisely, here on earth, the present, looking through Hubble, is linked with with the past, therefore is the earth actually in the present or past? No offense intended, just being playful this AM.

16 posted on 02/19/2011 3:34:31 AM PST by no-to-illegals (Please God, Bless and Protect Our Men and Women in Uniform with Victory. Amen.)
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To: no-to-illegals

Yes, it can be fun looking back in time, for instance at andromeda V73 or pulsar 445 W3, or even globular cluster 576T, but sometimes it can be hard to dig up some of those old memories, too.


17 posted on 02/19/2011 3:45:33 AM PST by golux
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To: golux

and wouldn’t it be nice to see the present at these locations? Memories, sweet memories.


18 posted on 02/19/2011 3:49:29 AM PST by no-to-illegals (Please God, Bless and Protect Our Men and Women in Uniform with Victory. Amen.)
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To: Rocky

Can the existence of God be proven or disproven, demons, angels, elves, etc?


19 posted on 02/19/2011 3:55:29 AM PST by stuartcr (Everything happens as God wants it to...otherwise, things would be different)
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To: LibWhacker

Who cares?


20 posted on 02/19/2011 3:55:46 AM PST by AdaGray
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To: no-to-illegals

Well we can go if you like, but we’ll have to go quickly.


21 posted on 02/19/2011 3:59:48 AM PST by golux
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To: golux
instantaneously? and then we would be a few seconds late? The present and the links to present, past, and future. My preference is the future. Could we go there? Does the transportation exist? Always fun to wonder. And as always, no offense intended.
22 posted on 02/19/2011 4:04:44 AM PST by no-to-illegals (Please God, Bless and Protect Our Men and Women in Uniform with Victory. Amen.)
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To: no-to-illegals

Well, in review: you said it would be nice to see the present at these locations. You WILL see the present at these locations. You will for instance see the PRESENT at a body six trillion miles or so away from you, (one light year) in approximately one year. It is indeed possible to see the present here FROM these locations; we simply need to get there quickly, i.e. faster than the speed of light. That was my attempt at a joke.

Well I am no expert on these matters but as far as going to the future is concerned, I don’t want to see the many things that will break my heart and possibly my will to live.


23 posted on 02/19/2011 4:19:46 AM PST by golux
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To: LibWhacker

Somebody’s been taking too much LSD.


24 posted on 02/19/2011 4:22:33 AM PST by wastoute (Government cannot redistribute wealth. Government can only redistribute poverty.)
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To: LibWhacker
Good read...


25 posted on 02/19/2011 4:26:54 AM PST by Dallas59 (President Robert Gibbs 2009-2011)
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To: golux

Some of my fondest memories are of family outings to globular cluster 576T.


26 posted on 02/19/2011 5:01:02 AM PST by TangoLimaSierra (To the left the truth looks Right-Wing.)
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To: Rocky

“It is meaningless fantasy, a total waste of time.”

And it’s a total waste of taxpayer money in a time when we are worse than broke. The government outlaws the use of tax money to support Christian religion in any way, but cheerfully supports billions of dollars of spending on the humanist delusions of scientists.


27 posted on 02/19/2011 5:04:01 AM PST by kittymyrib
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To: Rocky; LibWhacker
I agree. It is a meaningless clutch of "just so" stories.

But as Mr. Llewellyn noted in the New York Review of Books all those years ago, they "cannot allow a Divine foot in the door." Therefore, these 'scientists' are compelled by their own denial of God to make up stories about how the Universe can exist without Him. Futile, and sad.

28 posted on 02/19/2011 5:16:18 AM PST by backwoods-engineer (Any politician who holds that the state accords rights is an oathbreaker and an "enemy... domestic.")
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To: LibWhacker

Modern cosmology has become a religion. It requires belief in things that are not verifiable. Deviance from the official dogmas means expulsion. Adherents continue to believe in spite of valid rational proofs that they are wrong.


29 posted on 02/19/2011 5:16:54 AM PST by Leftism is Mentally Deranged (Liberalism is against human nature. Practicing liberalism is detrimental to your mental stability.)
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To: agere_contra
There is a conjecture that we can't see any of these other universes ~ but no one has demonstrated that such is the case.

In fact, when we use powerful telescopes we see gazillions of galaxies and other features ALL OVER THE PLACE ~ and there's absolutely no way that we can prove or disprove that any of them are not also their own complete galaxy with subtly different physical laws.

It might well be useful to determine which ones are "different" and which ones aren't ~ particularly if we wee to find ourselves drifting close to one. There's a ginormous blackhole only 51 lightyears away ~ I'd really like to know if that's one of ours or someone else's ~ and pretty soon too!

30 posted on 02/19/2011 5:38:15 AM PST by muawiyah
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To: LibWhacker

Is there any observational evidence???? I thought the Scientific Method started with
1. Unexplained fact or phenomenon.
2. Fact gathering ........

Don’t fall into the trap of intellectual masturbation.


31 posted on 02/19/2011 5:44:49 AM PST by Citizen Tom Paine (An old sailor sends)
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To: LibWhacker

Is there any observational evidence???? I thought the Scientific Method started with
1. Unexplained fact or phenomenon.
2. Fact gathering ........

Don’t fall into the trap of intellectual masturbation.


32 posted on 02/19/2011 5:44:49 AM PST by Citizen Tom Paine (An old sailor sends)
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To: backwoods-engineer
Remember the picture of the distant "edge" of what we believe to be "the universe"? There were RING formations ~ light years wide ~ immense ~ just like the brackets supporting a flask in a laboratory, only seen from the inside.

There are mysteries beyond mysteries.

33 posted on 02/19/2011 5:46:05 AM PST by muawiyah
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To: LibWhacker

For Christians, I don’t believe that it’s possible to read the Bible and come to a conclusion that God could have created more than one....


34 posted on 02/19/2011 5:49:21 AM PST by hecticskeptic
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To: stuartcr
Step away from your computer and take a walk outside... the complexity of what you see in nature tells you all you need to know about the existence of a Designer.
35 posted on 02/19/2011 5:49:48 AM PST by hecticskeptic
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To: hecticskeptic
Step away from your computer and take a walk outside... the complexity of what you see in nature tells you all you need to know about the existence of a Designer

I would like to add that if there is any doubt, just listen to some of Beethoven's best works by a great symphony. Pure randomness could not have been into play.

36 posted on 02/19/2011 5:53:07 AM PST by catfish1957 (Hey algore...You'll have to pry the steering wheel of my 317 HP V8 truck from my cold dead hands)
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To: LibWhacker

Here’s my theory:

Our universe was supposedly started by a big bang.

There are potentially unlimited other universes out there...they may have started up with their own bang.

More than one bang = gang bang.

You heard it here first.


37 posted on 02/19/2011 5:54:03 AM PST by 2nd Bn, 11th Mar (The "p" in Democrat stands for patriotism.)
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To: no-to-illegals

Man do I ever agree. The Hubble may be the one best scientific investment in history.


38 posted on 02/19/2011 5:56:07 AM PST by catfish1957 (Hey algore...You'll have to pry the steering wheel of my 317 HP V8 truck from my cold dead hands)
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To: LibWhacker

That settles it.

I have now completely abandoned my search for a missing skate key that I lost in 1959.


39 posted on 02/19/2011 5:58:12 AM PST by Peter W. Kessler (Dirt is for racing... asphalt is for getting there.)
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To: golux

yes, it is always fun to wonder. to set the record straight ... I neither am an expert. Thank You, for the conversation.


40 posted on 02/19/2011 6:00:31 AM PST by no-to-illegals (Please God, Bless and Protect Our Men and Women in Uniform with Victory. Amen.)
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To: catfish1957

Actually I agree with you, catfish 1957. Hubble may well be all and more, and worth more than a look <-—> see, here from earth, where the pictures are ‘beamed’ down to.


41 posted on 02/19/2011 6:04:43 AM PST by no-to-illegals (Please God, Bless and Protect Our Men and Women in Uniform with Victory. Amen.)
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To: hecticskeptic
the complexity of what you see in nature tells you all you need to know about the existence of a Designer.
But, but, I thought ...

42 posted on 02/19/2011 6:09:28 AM PST by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: LibWhacker
You mean there is a universe out there where I am a multi-billionaire, have beautiful women hanging around me, and am surrounded by expensive good tasting alchoholic drinks?

Dang! I was born in the wrong universe!

43 posted on 02/19/2011 6:11:20 AM PST by Just another Joe (Warning: FReeping can be addictive and helpful to your mental health)
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To: 2nd Bn, 11th Mar
More than one bang = gang bang.
Leave it to a Marine to come up with that.
Semper Fi ...
44 posted on 02/19/2011 6:13:11 AM PST by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: LibWhacker

Could our multiverse be one of many multiverses?


45 posted on 02/19/2011 6:16:15 AM PST by Larry Lucido
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To: Just another Joe
You were there you just don't remember it.

Nobody dies in the multi-universe continuum—granted you face death,perhaps several times a day but you never die because upon “death,” you instantly occupy your other person and have no memory of the death episode because it never happened.
As far as you are concerned you either never faced death or you dodged it.
My wife has buried my ill ass many times but I am still here.

Yes,I played with acid in my youth but I am just finnnee gabblee glook shlabonk.

46 posted on 02/19/2011 6:29:31 AM PST by Happy Rain ("Implementing Obamacare now is like arresting motorists for driving sober--there ain't no such law.")
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To: hecticskeptic
For Christians, I don’t believe that it’s possible to read the Bible and come to a conclusion that God could have created more than one....

How do you draw that conclusion? Certainly the Bible talks only about this one, but isn't it unwarranted speculation to arbitrarily limit God's power to also create other universes?

47 posted on 02/19/2011 6:31:48 AM PST by Sherman Logan
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To: oh8eleven

And Semper Fi to you as well, Marine.

Just my (somewhat crude) way of poking a little fun at the people whose careers are spent thinking, talking, and writing about arcane theories such as this.


48 posted on 02/19/2011 8:23:21 AM PST by 2nd Bn, 11th Mar (The "p" in Democrat stands for patriotism.)
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To: Sherman Logan
How do you draw that conclusion? Certainly the Bible talks only about this one, but isn't it unwarranted speculation to arbitrarily limit God's power to also create other universes?

Fair question... Anything is possible I suppose but none of those ideas would seem to be consistent with what the Bible reveals about the character of God or consistent with the many passages of scripture for which the concept of multiple populated universes would have a bearing. Scripture lays out everything that is important for mankind to know and nowhere does the idea of another universe similar to ours show up. So, does that means that either such a universe doesn’t exist or does it means that God didn’t deem it important for us to know about? Based on the enormity of what is revealed, the latter would seem to be impossible. Consider the question from a broader scope (and related to this) is the idea that there might be a similar universe but without humans on it, or plant life but no animal life. However, dealing with a universe that has people on it would present such a huge theological problem that it would have to be discounted. As a ‘free will’ created and fallen mankind, God’s Son Jesus Christ was sent to die and to be the Saviour of humans.... if there was a similar race of people elsewhere and who had that gift of free will, that mean that Christ would have to die again .... and again and again depending on how many such universes were supposedly created. That just didn’t happen....Christ died once for the human race and that’s it. As for the possibility for instance of a universe that just had plant life on it, it would simply be inconsistent with many references to the fact that Earth is completely unique. Genesis 1:1 (KJV) ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.’.....it doesn’t say earths in the plural. The creation story says that earth was created on the first day.... it wasn’t until the fourth day that other interstellar objects including our own sun and moon were created. If there was going to be a belief that other populated universes existed prior to ours, it would mean that they would have been completely destroyed since our universe was created ex nihilo (out of nothing). That would mean that God made a mistake and had to start over... not consistent with the character of God. If God created populated universes after ours, that would seem to imply that he was hedging his bets on one of them turning out right... not consistent with the character of God.

I’m sure there are many answers to your question that are far better than mine but it is a Saturday and I must go and straighten out my garage... plus a lot of other things.

49 posted on 02/19/2011 9:11:31 AM PST by hecticskeptic
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To: LibWhacker

There is one universe and numerous realities.
Sheesh.. How hard is this to figure out?


50 posted on 02/19/2011 9:17:58 AM PST by Lancey Howard
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