There is energy even in a vacuum. But the amount predicted by quantum physics and the actual measurements are off by a factor of 1 followed by 120 zeroes. This discrepancy is described as “one of the most confounding (and embarrassing) problems in modern astrophysics.” It would suggest that there is something wrong with the mathematical models behind quantum physics, something scientists are reluctant to admit. So they are looking for other explanations, including the final all-purpose answer when scientists don’t know something: the invocation of multiple universes.

After the jump is an excerpt from an account of a panel discussing this problem, which develops into a discussion of multiverses. That solution is simply that if there are an infinite number of universes, we would have every possibility, including this unusual math fact, as well as the evolution of life, which they also get into. (But that isn’t right, is it? According to the mathematics of probability, random events continued on into infinity will not result in every possible action, much less result in a particular event. Monkeys at typewriters will not eventually give us the works of Shakespeare, even in an infinite number of universes.)

Anyway, read the account. Notice how the scientists say that the advantage of positing multiverses is that this avoids the necessity of agency! They end by saying that all possible answers to the “anthropic principle” must be considered, but I don’t think they mean it. [Read more…]

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