X-Message-Number: 25508
From: "mike99" <>
Subject: Infinite universe?
Date: Mon, 10 Jan 2005 12:29:38 -0700

Physicist; Institute of Cosmology, Tufts University

The Edge asked 120 thinkers "What Do You Believe Is True Even Though You
Cannot Prove It?"

"There are good reasons to believe that the universe is infinite.

"If so, it contains an infinite number of regions of the same size as our
observable region (which is 80 billion light years across). It follows from
quantum mechanics that the number of distinct histories that could occur in
any of these finite regions in a finite time (since the big bang) is finite.
By history I mean not just the history of the civilization, but everything
that happens, down to the atomic level. The number of possible histories is
fantastically large (it has been estimated as 10 to the power 10 to the
power 150), but the important point is that it is finite.

"Thus, we have an infinite number of regions like ours and only a finite
number of histories that can play out in them. It follows that every
possible history will occur in an infinite number of regions. In particular,
there should be an infinite number of regions with histories identical to
ours. So, if you are not satisfied with the result of the presidential
elections, don't despair: you candidate has won on an infinite number of

"This picture of the universe robs our civilization of any claim for
uniqueness: countless identical civilizations are scattered in the infinite
expanse of the cosmos. I find this rather depressing, but it is probably

"Another thing that I believe to be true, but cannot prove, is that our part
of the universe will eventually stop expanding and will recollapse to a big
crunch. But this will happen no sooner than 20 billion years from now, and
probably much later." -- ALEXANDER VILENKIN


Michael LaTorra

"For any man to abdicate an interest in science is to walk with open eyes
towards slavery."
-- Jacob Bronowski

"Experiences only look special from the inside of the system."
-- Eugen Leitl

Board of Directors, World Transhumanist Association: www.transhumanism.org
Extropy Institute: www.extropy.org
Alcor Life Extension Foundation: www.alcor.org
Society for Technical Communication: www.stc.org

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