May 26, 2004

Geek God.

Maybe--as discussed in Slate--the universe was created by some science nerd who never even got to see his own creation, let alone rule over it. But what if a scientist in our universe sets off his own new universe?
If you started off a Big Bang in a lab, wouldn't the baby universe you created expand into your own universe, killing people and crushing buildings and so forth? [Stanford physicist Andrei] Linde assured me that there was no such danger. "The new universe would expand into itself," he said. "Its space would be so curved that it would look as tiny as an elementary particle. In fact, it might end up disappearing altogether from the world of its creator."

But why bother making a universe if it's going to run away from you? Wouldn't you want to have some power over how your creation unfolded, some way of making sure the beings that evolved in it turned out well? Linde's picture was as unsatisfying as Voltaire's idea of a creator who established our universe but then took no further interest in it or its creatures.

"You've got a point," Linde said. "At first I imagined that the creator might be able to send information into the new universe—to teach its creatures how to behave, to help them discover what the laws of nature are, and so forth. Then I started thinking. The inflation theory says that a baby universe blows up very quickly, like a balloon, in the tiniest fraction of a second. Suppose the creator tried to write something on it[s] surface, like 'Please remember I created you.' The inflationary expansion would make this message exponentially huge. The creatures in the new universe, living in a little corner of one letter, would never be able to read the whole thing."

Great article! Linde, who sounds awfully brilliant, thinks he knows that it takes hundred-thousandth of a gram of matter to start a universe. If he could manage to do it, would it be wrong? I don't see how you could ever be confident enough that it would create its own space to expand into, considering the potential consequences. I think anyone smart enough to figure out how to do this would be smart enough to refrain, so if this ever did happen, it seems it would have to have happened by mistake.

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