Are there parallel universes? Universes in which, rather than reading this article, you are still asleep; in which you are happier, unhappier, richer, poorer, or even dead? The answer is "possibly". It's a controversial claim but one that has won more and more followers over the last few decades.
Everyone knows what time is. We can practically feel it ticking away,
marching on in the same direction with horrifying regularity. Time has
enslaved the Western world and become our most precious commodity. Turn it
over to the physicists however, and it begins to
morph, twist and even crumble away. So what is
As part of our joint project with FQXi called Science fiction, science fact, we've been asking you what question on the frontiers of physics you'd like to have answered. The question that topped our first poll was 'What is time?'. We went to ask Paul Davies, a theoretical physicist and cosmologist at Arizona State University and Director of BEYOND: Centre for Fundamental Concepts in Science and here is his answer.
Space is the stage on which physics happens. It's unaffected what happens it and it would still be there if everything in it disappeared. This is how we learn to think about space at school. But the idea is as novel as it is out-dated.
Would you stake your fortune on a 100 to 1 outsider? Probably not. But what if, somewhere in a parallel universe, the straggling nag does come in first? Would the pleasure you feel in that universe outweigh the pain you feel in the one in which you've lost? Questions not dissimilar to this one occupy physicists and for entirely respectable reasons.
Hugh Everett III is the father of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. He published the idea in his PhD thesis but died before it gained the recognition it deserves. This article gives an insight into Everett's difficult life.
Are there parallel universes? In the latest online poll of our Science fiction, science fact project you told us that you'd like an answer to this question. So we spoke to physicists Adrian Kent and David Wallace to find out more. Happy reading!
A team of physicists have curbed the hope that quantum physics might be squared with common sense. At least if we want to hang on to Einstein's highly respected theory of relativity. Their result concerns what Einstein called "spooky action at a distance" and it may soon be possible to test their prediction in the lab.
The 2012 Nobel Prize for Physics has been awarded to Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland for ground-breaking work in quantum optics. By probing the world at the smallest scales they've shed light on some of the biggest mysteries of physics and paved the way for quantum computers and super accurate clocks.