If A Multiverse Exists It Could Abound With Life

Could the universe we know be just one of many in a multiverse? Jaime Salcido/simulations by the EAGLE Collaboration

If, as some propose, our universe is just one of many in a multiverse, all operating with slightly different physics, then more of them than previously suspected have the potential to host life. Specifically, the quantity of dark energy is not as constraining as proposed.

One of the puzzles of physics is how well the universe appears suited to us. Modest changes to any of the fundamental forces would make it impossible to form elements heavier than helium.

Without assuming a supreme being tailoring things for our benefit, this seems an astonishing stroke of luck. One explanation is that whatever process formed the universe spawned many others, scrambling the fundamental constants each time. In which case, there could be a lot of universes very unsuited to life, just as the galaxy hosts many barren planets. Rather than getting lucky, we appeared where our existence was possible.

This has led some physicists to invest great effort into modeling how things would look if one fundamental force or another was a little different. Professor Geraint Lewis of the University of Sydney, with colleagues across Australia and in Europe, has extended this to the universe's quantity of dark energy. However, there is an important difference to the dark energy study. We have no reason to think electromagnetism, for example, should be stronger or weaker than it is, just that it could be. However, Lewis told IFLScience that we expect most other universes, if they exist, to have more dark energy.

When astronomers realized the universe's rate of expansion is accelerating, they concluded this must be driven by something they called dark energy. Unfortunately, if our understanding of dark energy is right, there ought to be a lot more of it, and we mean a LOT. According to Lewis, our best estimates are for there to be about 10120 times as much dark energy in the universe as there appears to be.

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