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Physical cosmology
Universe·Big Bang Age of the universeTimeline of the Big BangUltimate fate of the universe
Early universeExpanding universeStructure FormationComponentsTimelineExperimentsScientists
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, seeMultiverse (disambiguation).
) is the hypothetical set of multiple possibleuniverses(including the one unique universe we arepretty sure we consistently inhabit) that together comprise everything thatphysically exists: the entirety of spaceandtime, all forms of matter , energyandmomentum, and thephysical lawsandconstantsthat govern them. The term was coined in 1895 by the American philosopher andpsychologistWilliam James.
The various universes within the multiverseare sometimes called
parallel universes
.The structure of the multiverse, the nature of each universe within it andtherelationship between the various constituent universes, depend on thespecificmultiverse hypothesis considered. Multiverses have beenhypothesized incosmology,physics,astronomy,philosophy, transpersonal psychologyandfiction, particularly inscience fictionand fantasy. In these contexts, parallel universes are also called "alternativeuniverses", "quantum universes", "interpenetratingdimensions", "parallel dimensions", "parallel worlds", "alternative realities", and "alternativetimelines", among others.
1 Multiversehypotheses in physics 1.1 Tegmark's classification1.1.1 Level I: Beyond our cosmological horizon1.1.2 Level II: Universes with different physical constants1.1.3 Level III: Many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics1.1.4 Level IV: Ultimate Ensemble 1.2 Cyclic theories1.3 M-theory1.4 Anthropic principle1.5 WMAP cold spot1.6 Criticisms1.6.1 Non-scientific claims1.6.2 Occam's Razor 2 Multiverse hypotheses in philosophy and logic2.1 Modal realism2.2 Trans-world identity2.3 Fictional realism3 Multiverse hypotheses in religion and spirituality3.1 Hinduism3.2 Islam3.3 Planes of existence3.4 Afterlife3.5 Eschatology4 In popular culture4.1 Literature4.2 Film4.3 Television4.4 Other fictional uses5 See also6 References6.1 Notes6.2 Bibliography7 External links
Multiverse hypotheses in physics
Tegmark's classification
Cosmologist Max Tegmarkhas provided ataxonomyof universes beyond the familiar observable universe. The levels according to Tegmark's classification are arranged such that subsequent levels can be understood to encompass and expand upon previouslevels, and they are briefly described below.
Level I: Beyond our cosmological horizon
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"Bubble universes", every disk is abubble universe (Universe 1 to Universe 6are different bubbles, they have physicalconstants that are different fromour universe), our universe is just one of thebubbles.
 A generic prediction of chaotic inflationis an infiniteergodicuniverse, which, being infinite, must containHubble volumes realizing all initial conditions. Accordingly, an infinite universe will contain an infinite number of Hubble volumes, all having the samephysical lawsandphysical constants. In regard to configurations such as the distribution of matter , almost all will differ from our Hubble volume. However, because there are infinitely many, far beyond thecosmological horizon, there will eventually be Hubble volumes with similar, andeven identical, configurations. Tegmark estimates that an identical volume to ours should be about 10
meters away from us(a number larger than agoogolplex).
Level II: Universes with different physical constants
In thechaotic inflationtheory, a variant of thecosmic inflationtheory, the multiverse as a whole is stretching and will continue doing so forever, but some regions of spacestop stretching and form distinct bubbles, like gas pockets in a loaf of rising bread.Such bubbles are embryonic level I multiverses. Linde and Vanchurin calculated thenumber of these universes to be on the scale of 10
Different bubbles may experience differentspontaneous symmetry breakingresultingin different properties such as differentphysical constants.
This level also includesJohn Archibald Wheeler 'soscillatory universetheory andLee Smolin'sfecund universestheory.
Level III: Many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics
Hugh Everett'smany-worlds interpretation(MWI) is one of several mainstream interpretations of quantum mechanics. In brief, one aspect of quantum mechanics isthat certain observations cannot be predicted absolutely. Instead, there is a range of possible observations each with a differentprobability. According to the MWI, each of these possible observations corresponds to a different universe. Suppose adieisthrown that contains 6 sides and that the result corresponds to a quantum mechanicsobservable. All 6 possible ways the diecan fall correspond to 6 different universes. (More correctly, in MWI there is onlya single universebut after the "split" into "manyworlds" these cannot in general interact.)
Tegmark argues that a level III multiverse does not contain more possibilities in the Hubble volume than a level I-II multiverse. Ineffect, all the different "worlds" created by "splits" in a level III multiverse with the same physical constants can be found in someHubble volume in a level I multiverse. Tegmark writes that "The only difference between Level I and Level III is where your doppelgängersreside. In Level I they live elsewhere in good old three-dimensional space. In Level III they live on another quantumbranch in infinite-dimensionalHilbert space." Similarly, all level II bubble universes with different physical constants can in effectbe found as "worlds" created by "splits" at the moment of spontaneous symmetry breaking in a level III multiverse.
Related to the
idea areRichard Feynman's
multiple histories
interpretation andH. Dieter Zeh's
Level IV: Ultimate Ensemble
TheUltimate Ensemblehypothesis of Tegmark himself. This level considers equally real all universes that can be defined bymathematical structures. This also includes those havingphysical lawsdifferent from our observable universe. Tegmark writesthat "abstract mathematicsis so general that anyTOEthat is definable in purely formal terms (independent of vague human terminology) is also a mathematical structure. For instance, a TOE involving a set of different types of entities (denoted bywords, say) and relations between them (denoted by additional words) is nothing but what mathematicians call aset-theoreticalmodel, and one can generally find aformal systemthat it is a model of." He argues this "implies that any conceivable paralleluniverse theory can be described at Level IV" and "subsumes all other ensembles, therefore brings closure to the hierarchy of multiverses, and there cannot be say a Level V."
Jürgen Schmidhuber , however, says the "set of mathematical structures" is not even well-defined, and admits only universerepresentations describable byconstructivemathematics, that is,computer programs. He explicitly includes universe representations describable by non-halting programs whose output bits converge after finite time, although the convergence timeitself may not be predictable by a halting program, due toKurt Gödel's limitations.
He also explicitly discusses the morerestricted ensemble of quickly computable universes.
Cyclic theories
Main articles:Cyclic model anOscillatory universe
In several theories there is a series of infinite, self-sustaining cycles (for example: aneternityof Big Bang-Big crunches).
See also:Brane cosmology anString theory landscape
 A multiverse of a somewhat different kind has been envisaged within the multi-dimensional extension of string theoryknown asM-theory, also known as Membrane Theory.
In M-theory our universe and others are created by collisions betweenp-branesin a space with 11 and 26 dimensions (the number of dimensions depends on thechiralityof the observer);
takes the form of aD-brane.
Objects in each universe are essentially confined to the D-brane of their universe, but may beable to interact with other universes via gravity, a force which is not restricted to D-branes.
This is unlike the universes in the"quantum multiverse", but both concepts can operate at the same time.
Anthropic principle
Main article: Anthropic principle
The concept of other universes has been proposed to explain why our universe seems to befine-tunedfor conscious life as weexperience it. If there were a large number (possibly infinite) of different physical laws (or fundamental constants) in as many
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[edit][edit][edit][edit][edit][edit][edit][edit][edit][edit]universes, some of these would have laws that were suitable for stars, planets andlifeto exist. Theweak anthropic principle could then be applied to conclude that we would only consciously exist in those universes which were finely-tuned for our conscious existence. Thus, while the probability might be extremely small that there is life in most of the universes, this scarcityof life-supporting universes does not implyintelligent designas the only explanation of our existence.
WMAP cold spot
Laura Mersini-Houghtonclaims that theWMAP cold spotmay provide testable empirical evidence for a parallel universe within the multiverse.
Non-scientific claims
Critics claim that many of these theories lackempirical testability, and without hard physical evidence areunfalsifiable; outside the methodology of scientific investigationto confirm or disprove.
Occam's Razor 
See also:Kolmogorov Complexity 
Critics argue that to postulate a practically infinite number of unobservable universes just to explain our own seems contrary toOccam's razor .
Tegmark answers:"A skeptic worries about all the information necessary to specify all those unseen worlds. But an entire ensembleis often much simpler than one of its members. This principle can be stated more formally using the notion of algorithmic informationcontent. The algorithmic information content in a number is, roughly speaking, the length of the shortestcomputer programthat will produce that number as output. For example, consider thesetof all integers. Which is simpler, the whole set or just one number? Naively, you might think that a single number issimpler, but the entire set can be generated by quite a trivial computer program, whereas a single number can behugely long. Therefore, the whole set is actually simpler. Similarly, the set of all solutions toEinstein's fieldequationsis simpler than a specific solution. The former is described by a few equations, whereas the latter requires the specification of vast amounts of initial data on some hypersurface. The lesson is that complexityincreases when we restrict our attention to one particular element in an ensemble, thereby losing the symmetryand simplicity that were inherent in the totality of all the elements taken together. In this sense, the higher-levelmultiverses are simpler. Going from our universe to the Level I multiverse eliminates the need to specifyinitialconditions, upgrading to Level II eliminates the need to specifyphysical constants, and the Level IV multiverse eliminates the need to specify anything at all."He continues"A common feature of all four multiverse levels is that the simplest and arguably most elegant theory involvesparallel universes by default. To deny the existence of those universes, one needs to complicate the theory byadding experimentally unsupported processes andad hocpostulates:finite space,wave function collapseand ontological asymmetry. Our judgment therefore comes down to which we find more wasteful and inelegant: manyworlds or many words. Perhaps we will gradually get used to the weird ways of our cosmos and find itsstrangeness to be part of its charm."
Multiverse hypotheses in philosophy and logic
Modal realism
Possible worldsare a way of explaining probability, hypothetical statements and the like, and some philosophers such asDavidLewisbelieve that all possible worlds exist, and are just as real as the actual world (a position known asmodal realism).
Trans-world identity
 A metaphysical issue that crops up in multiverse schema that posit infinite identical copies of any given universe is that of thenotion that there can be identical objects in different possible worlds. According to thecounterpart theoryof David Lewis, the objects should be regarded as similar rather than identical.
Fictional realism
The view that because fictions exist, fictional characters exist as well. There are fictional entities, in the same sense as that inwhich, setting aside philosophical disputes, there are people, Mondays, numbers and planets.
Multiverse hypotheses in religion and spirituality
Main article:Multiverse (religion)
Main article:Hindu cosmology 
The concept of multiple universes is mentioned many times in HinduPuranicliterature, such as in theBhagavata Purana: "Lord Śiva said:
My dear son, I, Lord Brahmā and the other devas, who rotate within this universe under themisconception of our greatness, cannot exhibit any power to compete with the Supreme Personality of Godhead,for 
innumerable universes
and their inhabitants come into existence and are annihilated by the simple direction
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