The Cold Spot As Evidence Of The Multiverse? Not So Fast

A map of the cosmic microwave background with the Cold Spot highlighted. ESA/Durham University

A few weeks ago, we talked about the intriguing discovery that the mysterious region of the cosmic microwave background, known as the Cold Spot, seems to defy all explanation from our standard model of cosmology.

Researchers have suggested that more exotic theories may explain its origin and that maybe a collision between universes was the cause of it. This has been interpreted (and hyped) by many as evidence for the multiverse.

The results from their work, which was published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, show that there’s only a 2 percent chance for the Cold Spot to be a statistical fluke of our current theory. That doesn’t make it impossible, it just says that the odds are not in its favor.

The team looked at the distribution of galaxies and discovered that there was nothing particularly weird in the direction of travel. It was suggested in the past that a supervoid, a region with a relatively smaller number of galaxies inside, might explain such a signal. But this is not the case.

“The results in the paper don't really say anything about the possibility of a multiverse one way or the other,” lead author Ruari Mackenzie told IFLScience. “What we set out to do was test the claim that there was a huge supervoid aligned with the Cold Spot that was so extreme it could have created the CMB Cold Spot, possibly by an effect beyond standard cosmology.”

The study tells us that the current model is less likely than we previously thought, so maybe there is a theory out there that could be better suited to explain what we see. As we all know, it’s crucial in science to adapt our views when new evidence is presented and to admit the limitations of current theories and hypotheses.

“Now that the possibility of a void looks much less likely, there are other suggestions of what the Cold Spot might be," Mackenzie added. "These include non-standard inflation, collisions between universes and a dozen other ideas."

“It's true our results leave room for these other explanations, but our results don't support any of them. Could the Cold Spot be evidence of a collision between universes? Maybe. Do we have any evidence to claim it is? No. These exotic hypotheses really require more evidence before any of them gain much traction as an explanation.”

It’s ok to think that there are other universes out there, but there's no proof of them. I want to believe that, somewhere, there’s a universe where pizza doesn’t make you fat. But until we have evidence for it, I’ll embrace the fact that I shouldn’t eat more than two pizzas in one sitting.

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