BEYOND THE BIG BANG, THE MEMBRANE MULTIVERSE
IS OUR UNIVERSE "ONE BUBBLE FLOATING IN A SEA OF OTHER BUBBLES"?
19 July 2006
The 'universe' we know as all-encompassing, the vague, probably never to be finally defined concept of the structure of physical reality, may actually be one of many such distinct self-contained, self-sustaining phenomena, with distinct physical properties and corresponding physical laws and tendencies, unified membrane cosmologies adrift in a 'superfluid' soup, at times colliding with incredible energy diffusion, creating whole new universes.
The quest for a unifying theory explaining all the laws of physics and all the behaviors so far witnessed of the major physical forces in our universe, has led to astonishing theoretical discoveries and a hint of what existed before the 'Big Bang'. Perhaps the most important breakthrough has been the emergence of "M-theory", unifying all variants of "superstring theory".
M-theory postulates an 11th dimension —where string theory had only been able to reach 10 dimensions of physical reality—, microscopically thin and gathering all energy, space, time and matter into a single "membrane" of phenomena and interactions. The cosmic soup, then, becomes a virtually seamless fabric, impossibly thin and dispersed throughout all other physical dimensions and manifestations of difference, energy, motion.
Superstring theory had allowed quantum physics to explain many of the inadequacies of Einstien's general theory of relativity, by demonstrating that fundamental particles are actually inascertainably microscopic two-dimensional "strings" vibrating in such a way that their most common form of interaction is akin to spherical monads, orbiting and charged in such a way as to create the atomic structures of our physical universe.
But variations in the fundamental formulas of string theory led eventually to 5 competing major permutations, and the general understanding that traditional physics, relativity and quantum mechanics encompass 10 dimensions, most too small for us to experience. Inconsistencies between the various string theories and their inability to explain the "singularity" of the Big Bang, its seeming to be a moment at the edge of or just beyond physics as we know it, an undiscoverable beginning, hinted at the existence of an 11th dimension and a broader, more inclusive theory that would transcend the singularity of the Big Bang, something even more fundamental than that earliest traceable physical event.
M-theory gave quantum physicists an answer, a unifying theory, so "M" for membrane came to be referred to as the "magic" or "mystery" theory. It's 11th dimension allowed it to provide a platform on which the differences between quantum physics and general relativity, as well as between varying string theories, can play out. And that meant there was now a way of examining the true nature of the Big Bang, which would yield clues as to what it emerged from and how it came about.
One possible and viable explanation is that our membrane universe burst into being by way of the collision between two prior membrane universes in a soupy "multiverse" of such roiling, competing cosmologies. There are physics to back up this version of events, and "proofs" of a very complex, largely mathematical kind, that give weight to the argument that M-theory means a physical explanation of the Big Bang, possibly even a testable one.
This is important, because it gives rise to the possibility of understanding how the fundamentals of physics as we know it —gravity, protons, electrons, light— come about, what they mean for the nature and direction of physics as it affects us, and our planet, and whether the Big Bang is really a singular event or whether such things can happen at any time, given the right circumstances. Perhaps we can even begin to learn where and how such major cosmological events come about. [s]
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