Do We Live in a Purposeless Universe?

Just ninety years ago, we thought our galaxy was the extent of the Universe. Now we know hundreds of millions of galaxies exist in an ever-expanding Universe. Where does that leave us? 

What's the Latest Development?

The last century of space exploration has changed our understanding of the Universeand ourselvesmore than all previous history. Most recently, the Large Hadron Collider has revealed the 'Higgs field', which apparently just happened to form throughout the space in our Universe. "It is only because all elementary particles interact with this field that they have the mass we observe today," says cosmologist Lawrence Krauss. And thanks to quantum mechanics, says Krauss, we can understand how our entire Universe was created from nothing. 

What's the Big Idea?

If gravity is also governed by quantum mechanics, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle implies that entire Universes might appear and disappear in what is otherwise entirely empty space. In other words, we may need to reevaluate what we understand to be 'something' and 'nothing'. And so the famous question, 'Why is there something rather than nothing?' is revolutionized.  "Asking why we live in a universe of something rather than nothing may be no more meaningful than asking why some flowers are red and others blue," says Krauss, who prefers an impossibly complex universe to hiding behind fairy tales that justify our existence. 

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Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP/ Getty Images
Mind & Brain

MIT News

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Politics & Current Affairs
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How pharmaceutical companies game the patent system

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Politics & Current Affairs
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  • When this phenomenon happens in the pharmaceutical world, companies quickly apply for broad protection of their patents, which can last up to 20 years, and fence off research areas for others. The result of this? They stay at the top of the ladder, at the cost of everyday people benefitting from increased competition.
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