Sabine Hossenfelder is a theoretical physicist and the creator of the popular YouTube series Science without Gobbledygook. In her new book Existential Physicsshe argues that some of her colleagues may have gotten too excited about mythical ideas like the multiverse theory or simulation hypothesis.
“If you want to discuss them on a philosophical level, or maybe have a glass of wine with dinner because it’s fun to talk about it, that’s fine with me,” Hossenfelder said in Episode 525 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy audio file. “I have a problem if they argue that it’s based on a scientific argument, that’s not the case.”
The multiverse theory states that an infinite number of alternate universes are constantly branching off from our own. Hossenfelder says it’s possible to create mathematical models that fit the multiverse theory, but that doesn’t necessarily tell you anything about reality. “I know quite a few cosmologists and astrophysicists who actually believe that other universes are real, and I think that’s a misunderstanding of how much math can actually do for us, ” she said. “Certainly there are some people who have pushed this line a bit too far – maybe on purpose, because it sells well – but I think for most of them, they are really confused.”
Hossenfelder is also skeptical of the simulation hypothesis, the idea that we live in a computer simulation. It’s an idea increasingly valued by scientists and philosophers, but Hossenfelder says it’s really nothing more than a kind of technical religion. “If people go and say numbers like, ‘I think there’s a 50 percent chance we’re living in a simulation,’ ‘I don’t have it,’” she said. “As a physicist who has to think about how you actually simulate the reality that we observe on the computer, I tell you it’s not easy and you can just sweep across the carpet it’s not a problem. topic.”
While there’s currently no scientific evidence for the multiverse theory or simulation hypothesis, Hossenfelder says there are still plenty of interesting ideas, including weather control, faster-than-light communication, and more. creating new universes that do not contradict known science. “This is exactly what I hoped to achieve with the book,” she said. “I’m trying to say, ‘Physics isn’t just something that tells you things you can’t do. It sometimes opens your mind to new things that we might one day be able to do. ‘”
Listen to the full interview with Sabine Hossenfelder in Episode 525 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Sabine Hossenfelder on entropy:
Entropy is a very humanized quantity. The way it’s usually worded is that entropy tells you something about a decrease in “order” or an increase in “disorder,” but this is really from our point of view – what we think is disarrange. I think if you don’t use this concept of order and human-centered order, you’ll have a completely different concept of entropy, which begs the question, “Why any of these some of them can last longer than any other?” … There is so much that we don’t really understand about space and time — namely entropy, gravity, etc. — to make a statement with certainty. I don’t think the second law of thermodynamics is as fundamental as many physicists think.
Sabine Hossenfelder on creating a universe:
In principle, there is nothing stopping us from creating the universe. When I first talked about this, people thought I was joking, because I used to say, “No, this is bullshit. You can not do it “. But in this case, it’s actually correct. I think the reason people get confused about it is that, naively, it sounds like you would need an enormous amount of mass or energy to create a universe, because where does all that come from? And this is not necessary in Einstein’s general theory of relativity. The reason is that if you have an extended spacetime, it will essentially generate its own energy. … The mass you need to create a new universe turns out to be 10 kg. So that’s not much, except that you have to put that 10 kg into a state very similar to the conditions in the early universe, which means you have to heat it to a sudden high temperature, which which we can currently do ‘t do.
Sabine Hossenfelder on faster-than-light communication:
I think physicists are a bit too fast to come up with faster-than-light communication, because there’s a lot that we don’t understand about locality. I’m not a big fan of “big” wormholes, where you can go at one end and exit at the other, but otherwise time has some kind of quantum structure — and almost all Physicists I know believe that—it’s entirely conceivable that it wouldn’t respect the notion of locality that we enjoy in the macroscopic world. So at this micro-quantum level, when you are taking into account the quantum properties of space and time, distance can completely lose meaning. I find it conceivable that this would allow us to send information faster than light.
Sabine Hossenfelder on the community:
When I was in Perimeter Institute in Canada, they had a weekly public lecture. It’s on the weekend — so the time when people can really come, not during business hours — and then there’s a brunch that everyone will eat together, and I know that the people who will Those who attend those lectures will go there often, and they will appreciate the opportunity to sit together and talk to others interested in similar things. This is something that I think scientists have taken for granted. We have all the friends and colleagues we talk to about things that interest us, but that’s not the case with everyone else. Some people are interested in, I don’t know, quantum mechanics, and maybe they don’t know anyone else interested in quantum mechanics. To some extent, there are now online communities that accomplish this task, but of course it’s better to meet people in person.