How To Create A Universe

So your ambitions have moved on from ruling the world to ruling the universe. Your mad scientist tendencies have finally gone beyond resurrecting the dead, to creating entire worlds. But how do you go about doing that? How did the current universe even get here? If you wanted to become a god, where would you even begin?

Don’t worry–science has all the answers. Or most of them. Some, at least. All right, we’ll be honest.

Science doesn’t have a clue.

Einstein: the original mad scientist

Einstein: the original mad scientist

The universe is infinite. Until recently it was understood that it was infinite in time as well as size. There was no beginning of the universe, it just was. This contradicts the second law of thermodynamics, but who cares about that. The universe in comprehensibly huge. Why should it not be incomprehensibly large as well?

Then, in 1915, a genius by the name of Albert Einstein published his theory of relativity and ruined everything. According to relativity the universe did, in fact, have a beginning, and was progressing towards an inevitable, if extraordinarily distant, finale. Dismayed by this unorthodox conclusion. Einstein developed the idea of a cosmological constant that would negate gravity, and maintain the idea of a static universe. Later in life he would admit that this fact was his greatest mistake.

In 1929 the Hubble telescope was used to provide data confirming that all galaxies are moving away from each other at equal speeds. This was proved using a technique called redshift. Redshift works because apparently the older light it when it reaches the earth, the further it is shifted into the red zone of the light spectrum. By measuring how shifted the wavelengths of light are, we can measure not only how far away a galaxy is, but how fast it is moving.

This is a photograph of Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. It is the oldest light in the universe, leftover from the moments just after the big bang. It was photographed by the Hubble telescope in 1940 and won the noble prize in 1978.

This is a photograph of Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. It is the oldest light in the universe, leftover from the moments just after the big bang. It was photographed by the Hubble telescope in 1940 and won the noble prize in 1978.

The universe was not static after all. The universe was expanding in equal directions away from….a beginning. So what beginning? What caused the universe to begin? Why is it rushing so quickly away from that origin point? This hypothesized beginning was nicknamed “The Big Bang” an explosion of matter and energy so large that even now, millions of billions of years later, the blast radius is still expanding.

Eventually that energy will be used up, the momentum of the galaxies will slow, and the universe will begin collapsing in on itself. Then, after countless billions of trillions of years, everything will be consumed and disappear back into whatever void it came from.

And maybe, some physicists hypothesize, the process will start all over again from there. Or maybe not. Nobody really knows. Just as nobody knows what started the big bang. Or how the universe can be infinite in size. Or how something infinite can collapse into a finite non-existent origin point.

So if you want to create a new universe by starting with the Big Bang, science can’t help you much. Luckily, this is not your only option.

350px-Schroedingers_cat_film.svg

Schroedinger’s Cat is a simplistic explanation of the bizarre effect known as the double-slit experiment. Is the cat alive or dead? According to multiverse theory it is both.

The universe doesn’t make a lot of sense. Sometimes physicists can trick the universe into doing inexplicable, impossible things. Many of these things are related to the bizarre existence of quantum mechanics. One of the explanations for quantum mechanics is the multi-verse theory. The Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics basically amounts to this: anything is possible, because everything exists.

The way the multi-verse works is simple. At any given time there is not merely one timeline of universal history, but all possible versions of that history existing simultaneously. These other timelines are parallel universes and every decision that you make, every moment that you breathe, you are creating new universes where you chose differently, or saw something else.

According to the multi-verse theory it is easy to create a universe. Simply exist and you’ll do it every minute of every day until you die.

But suppose science has got it all wrong. Suppose that the universe wasn’t created by the Big Bang, or by somebody somewhere deciding to have a tuna sandwich for lunch instead of chicken. Suppose the universe was created by an omnipotent being with unheard of power who simply wished it so. If this is indeed the way the world works, what would a mere mortal being need to do to create universes of their own?

Well that depends on your mythology. If you’re a Viking, the world came into existence when a giant cow licked the first frost giant out of a block of ice. If you’re descended from the Greeks, then the universe started with chaos, and then other entities began to appear. They slept with each other and created the various aspects of the world that we see today such as the sky, day, and night. Eventually there was a war between the gods and the Titans, and the Titans (the original creators of the world) were thrown out of power. If you’re a Christian, God simply spoke it into existence. The Taoists believed that the universe began as an egg. A god was born out of the egg, and used the two halves to create the earth and the sky.

Which came first? The universe or the cow?

Which came first? The universe or the cow?

But all of these versions of creation beg one simple question–where did it all begin? If the universe started with the Big Bang…who fired the canon? If the universe began with a spoken word, who created the Word? If the universe began with a primordial cow, where did the cow come from?

If you want to create a world out of nothing, where do you get your nothing?

Nobody knows. Religion, science, and philosophy cannot help answer that question. So if you’re looking to create a world of your own, you may have finally reached the limits of mad science. It is the final, unanswerable question. It is the question that leads us all, at one point or another to wonder–does the universe actually exist? Or are we all the product of a deranged imagination?

 


Katie Lynn Daniels is the author of Supervillain of the Day, and the mastermind behind Vaguely Circular. She blogs about science and things that are peripherally related to science. You can read all her posts here.


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