All of this month’s biggest science news.
It’s a trippy thought: somewhere, in a parallel universe, a version of you is the prime minister. In another parallel universe you’re a pop star, and in another you’re a Nobel Prize-winning scientist. But that’s exactly what it would mean if the multiverse theory were correct.
It’s an idea that has long fascinated authors and filmmakers. But while it may seem to be little more than a fanciful science fiction trope to most, many prominent physicists take the theory very seriously. Now, researchers from Durham University may have found evidence of the multiverse’s existence.
It all comes down the so- called ‘Cold Spot’ found in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) – the traces of electromagnetic radiation left over from the early stages of the Universe following the Big Bang. The Cold Spot is the largest known structure ever discovered, covering an area billions of light years across. It is around 0.00015 degrees colder than the area that surrounds it. There are other cold regions in the Universe caused by random f luctuations in the CMB but none as large as the Cold Spot – a fact that has puzzled cosmologists since its discovery several years ago.
“BILLIONS OF OTHER UNIVERSES MAY EXIST LIKE OUR OWN”
The leading theory was that the Cold Spot is not cold at all, but is instead caused by a vast area of relatively empty space dubbed a ‘supervoid’. Radiation passing through this void would have its energy reduced, thus making the area appear cooler.
However, new measurements suggest that there is no such supervoid in the direction of the Cold Spot. Assuming this is correct, then simulations of the standard model of the Universe give odds of just 1 in 50 that the Cold Spot arose by random fluctuations.
“This means we can’t entirely rule out that the Cold Spot is caused by an unlikely fluctuation explained by the standard model,” said lead researcher Tom Shanks. “But if that isn’t the answer, then there are more exotic explanations. Perhaps the most exciting of these is that the Cold Spot was caused by a collision between our Universe and another bubble universe. If further analysis of CMB data proves this to be the case, then the Cold Spot might be taken as the first evidence for the multiverse – and billions of other universes may exist like our own.”
The team now plan to further test their theory through more detailed observations of the CMB.
Some theories suggest our Universe is just one of many – and new evidence could lend weight to these ideas
ABOVE: An artist’s impression of multiple ‘bubble universes’