Epic Gravitational-Wave Discovery Points to Existence of Multiple Universes
- Interesting post from the Daily Galaxy blog.Chris
Sent: 3/20/2014 6:26:50 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: The Daily Galaxy: News from Planet Earth & Beyond
Posted: 20 Mar 2014 03:04 PM PDT
Scientists have said that gravitational waves point to the possibility of multipe universes. Gravitational waves have infused space with a special energy that exerted a repulsive force, causing the universe to expand faster than the speed of light for a prodigiously violent instant. The ballooning process smoothed out out he wrinkles and irregularities, solving the paradox like why the heavens look uniform from pole to pole.First discovered by physicist Alan Guth in 1979, the existence of gravitational waves was confirmed by radio astronomers earlier this week who reported that they had seen the beginning of the Big Bang, confrming his hypothesis, known as inflation. Guth is currently the Victor Weisskopf Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.- if confirmed by peer review - could strengthen suspicions that there really are alternate or parallel universes existing alongside ours.
The research, led by John Kovac of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, is among the most significant for years. So far, it seems to confirm the existence of gravitational waves, which are the 'ripples' in space time created in the very first moments after the big bang about 14 billion years ago. Most models of inflation we have today show that different parts of that hyper-dense early universe would have expanded at different speeds, creating "bubbles" of space time which would effectively be cut off from each other, resulting in many bubble universes, co-existing but unable in to interact.
Stanford University theoretical physicist Andrei Linde theorizes that initially the universe was rapidly inflating, being in an unstable energetic vacuum-like state. It became hot only later, when this vacuum-like state decayed. Quantum fluctuations produced during inflation are responsible for galaxy formation. In some places, these quantum fluctuations are so large that they can produce new rapidly expanding parts of the universe. This process makes the universe immortal and transforms it into a multiverse, a huge fractal consisting of many exponentially large parts with different laws of low-energy physics operating in each of them.
Professor Linde, one of the authors of inflationary theory and of the theory of an eternal inflationary multiverse told space.com: "It's possible to invent models of inflation that do not allow [a] multiverse, but it's difficult. Every experiment that brings better credence to inflationary theory brings us much closer to hints that the multiverse is real."
Alan Guth (see his Newton Lecture video below) is quoted in a press conference saying that "there's still certainly research that needs to be done. But most models of inflation do lead to a multiverse, and evidence for inflation will be pushing us in the direction of taking [the idea of a] multiverse seriously."
The Daily Galaxy via CfA and Stanford University
Image Credit: Copyright: Science Photo Library
Posted: 20 Mar 2014 08:37 AM PDT
"If you could look out on this sea, it would be really still. It would just be a totally glassy surface," said Howard Zebker, professor of geophysics and of electrical engineering at Stanford who is the lead author of a new study detailing the research.
New radar measurements of an enormous sea on Titan offer insights into the weather patterns and landscape composition of the Saturnian moon. The measurements, made in 2013 by NASA's Cassini spacecraft, reveal that the surface of Ligeia Mare, Titan's second largest sea, possesses a mirror-like smoothness, possibly due to a lack of winds.
The findings, recently published online in Geophysical Research Letters, also indicate that the solid terrain surrounding the sea is likely made of solid organic materials and not frozen water.
Saturn's second largest moon, Titan has a dense, planet-like atmosphere and large seas made of methane and ethane. Measuring roughly 260 miles (420 km) by 217 miles (350 km), Ligeia Mare is larger than Lake Superior on Earth. "Titan is the best analog that we have in the solar system to a body like the Earth because it is the only other body that we know of that has a complex cycle of solid, liquid, and gas constituents," Zebker said.
Titan's thick cloud cover makes it difficult for Cassini to obtain clear optical images of its surface, so scientists must rely on radar, which can see through the clouds, instead of a camera.
To paint a radar picture of Ligeia Mare, Cassini bounced radio waves off the sea's surface and then analyzed the echo. The strength of the reflected signal indicated how much wave action was happening on the sea. To understand why, Zebker said, imagine sunlight reflecting off of a lake on Earth. "If the lake were really flat, it would act as a perfect mirror and you would have an extremely bright image of the sun," he said. "But if you ruffle up the surface of the sea, the light gets scattered in a lot of directions, and the reflection would be much dimmer. We did the same thing with radar on Titan."
The radar measurements suggest the surface of Ligeia Mare is eerily still. "Cassini's radar sensitivity in this experiment is one millimeter, so that means if there are waves on Ligeia Mare, they're smaller than one millimeter. That's really, really smooth," Zebker said.
One possible explanation for the sea's calmness is that no winds happened to be blowing across that region of the moon when Cassini made its flyby. Another possibility is that a thin layer of some material is suppressing wave action. "For example, on Earth, if you put oil on top of a sea, you suppress a lot of small waves," Zebker said.
Cassini also measured microwave radiation emitted by the materials that make up Titan's surface. By analyzing those measurements, and accounting for factors such as temperature and pressure, Zebker's team confirmed previous findings that the terrain around Ligeia Mare is composed of solid organic material, likely the same methane and ethane that make up the sea. "Like water on Earth, methane on Titan can exists as a solid, a liquid, and a gas all at once," Zebker said.
Titan's similarities to Earth make it a good model for our own planet's early evolution, Zebker said. "Titan is different in the details from Earth, but because there is global circulation happening, the big picture is the same," he added. "Seeing something in two very different environments could help reveal the overall guiding principles for the evolution of planetary bodies, and help explain why Earth developed life and Titan didn't."
The Daily Galaxy via Ker Than, Stanford University
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