Re: is ther another dimension/universe?

There are basically two routes to so called 'scientific' multi-universe or alternate reality theories, from the cosmology and from quantum mechanics. According to general relativity Spacetime is shaped by matter. The universe that we are part of is a particular shape. Some models are closed shapes, some are open. In either case the universe is not infinite because spacetime cannot extend very far beyond the matter that shapes and creates it. It is difficult to imagine the universe as a closed four dimensional shape without picturing it as 'floating' in something, perhaps another infinite space. However this image is not justified by the science and implies further dimensions for the four dimensional universe to be in. If someone wished to speculate about this in a non-scientific way they could imagine an infinite number of 'island universes' dotted about in this multi-dimensional space much as galaxies are spread out in the four dimensional space that we know about. However these universes could have no contact with each other and could not exchange information (I am aware that there are 'wormhole speculations about transference of information but these are ot based on testable science and presume that alternative universes exist to create wormholes to). From a scientific point of view they could not be detectable and hence effectively do not exist. In many scientific theories there are often terms of equations that are neglected for this very reason. Non-interaction is effectively non-existence. It is in this unexplorable realm that believers place their gods and it is no more justifiable for scientists.    The many universe quantum theories are an attempt to resolve problems of superposition of states. When these states decohere there are problems for classically deterministic systems. The supposed solution offered by multi-universe theories is that all possible states of a quantum system lead to real observable solutions in alternate universes. This implies that effectively an infinite number of mature alternative universes come into being every moment as a result of each alternative state cross-referencing with every other alternative state. There are many more problems with this than the obvious one of where does all this matter and energy come from and in what ‘space’ does it exist. A damning consequence for the speculation is that every possible alternative universe will exist. This means that even if there were a experimentally testable consequence of this hypothesis there are universes where scientific experimentation always fails and hence 'proves' that the hypothesis itself is incorrect. As a solution to anything this hypothesis is not only untestable but also must refute itself. Whatever this hypothesis is it is not a scientific one and has no meaning in terms of explaining experience. Given that there are at least ten alternative hypothesise to resolve the problem of interaction between quantum world and the classical world that do not require the creation of infinite universes at each moment in time (i.e. everything happens because everything is possible) it is unnecessary to leap to an unscientific metaphysical one that creates more problems than it resolves (personally I favour a variation of einselection).  

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New fossils suggest human ancestors evolved in Europe, not Africa

Experts argue the jaws of an ancient European ape reveal a key human ancestor.

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  • The jaw bones of an 8-million-year-old ape were discovered at Nikiti, Greece, in the '90s.
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Homo sapiens have been on earth for 200,000 years — give or take a few ten-thousand-year stretches. Much of that time is shrouded in the fog of prehistory. What we do know has been pieced together by deciphering the fossil record through the principles of evolutionary theory. Yet new discoveries contain the potential to refashion that knowledge and lead scientists to new, previously unconsidered conclusions.

A set of 8-million-year-old teeth may have done just that. Researchers recently inspected the upper and lower jaw of an ancient European ape. Their conclusions suggest that humanity's forebearers may have arisen in Europe before migrating to Africa, potentially upending a scientific consensus that has stood since Darwin's day.

Rethinking humanity's origin story

The frontispiece of Thomas Huxley's Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature (1863) sketched by natural history artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

As reported in New Scientist, the 8- to 9-million-year-old hominin jaw bones were found at Nikiti, northern Greece, in the '90s. Scientists originally pegged the chompers as belonging to a member of Ouranopithecus, an genus of extinct Eurasian ape.

David Begun, an anthropologist at the University of Toronto, and his team recently reexamined the jaw bones. They argue that the original identification was incorrect. Based on the fossil's hominin-like canines and premolar roots, they identify that the ape belongs to a previously unknown proto-hominin.

The researchers hypothesize that these proto-hominins were the evolutionary ancestors of another European great ape Graecopithecus, which the same team tentatively identified as an early hominin in 2017. Graecopithecus lived in south-east Europe 7.2 million years ago. If the premise is correct, these hominins would have migrated to Africa 7 million years ago, after undergoing much of their evolutionary development in Europe.

Begun points out that south-east Europe was once occupied by the ancestors of animals like the giraffe and rhino, too. "It's widely agreed that this was the found fauna of most of what we see in Africa today," he told New Scientists. "If the antelopes and giraffes could get into Africa 7 million years ago, why not the apes?"

He recently outlined this idea at a conference of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.

It's worth noting that Begun has made similar hypotheses before. Writing for the Journal of Human Evolution in 2002, Begun and Elmar Heizmann of the Natural history Museum of Stuttgart discussed a great ape fossil found in Germany that they argued could be the ancestor (broadly speaking) of all living great apes and humans.

"Found in Germany 20 years ago, this specimen is about 16.5 million years old, some 1.5 million years older than similar species from East Africa," Begun said in a statement then. "It suggests that the great ape and human lineage first appeared in Eurasia and not Africa."

Migrating out of Africa

In the Descent of Man, Charles Darwin proposed that hominins descended out of Africa. Considering the relatively few fossils available at the time, it is a testament to Darwin's astuteness that his hypothesis remains the leading theory.

Since Darwin's time, we have unearthed many more fossils and discovered new evidence in genetics. As such, our African-origin story has undergone many updates and revisions since 1871. Today, it has splintered into two theories: the "out of Africa" theory and the "multi-regional" theory.

The out of Africa theory suggests that the cradle of all humanity was Africa. Homo sapiens evolved exclusively and recently on that continent. At some point in prehistory, our ancestors migrated from Africa to Eurasia and replaced other subspecies of the genus Homo, such as Neanderthals. This is the dominant theory among scientists, and current evidence seems to support it best — though, say that in some circles and be prepared for a late-night debate that goes well past last call.

The multi-regional theory suggests that humans evolved in parallel across various regions. According to this model, the hominins Homo erectus left Africa to settle across Eurasia and (maybe) Australia. These disparate populations eventually evolved into modern humans thanks to a helping dollop of gene flow.

Of course, there are the broad strokes of very nuanced models, and we're leaving a lot of discussion out. There is, for example, a debate as to whether African Homo erectus fossils should be considered alongside Asian ones or should be labeled as a different subspecies, Homo ergaster.

Proponents of the out-of-Africa model aren't sure whether non-African humans descended from a single migration out of Africa or at least two major waves of migration followed by a lot of interbreeding.

Did we head east or south of Eden?

Not all anthropologists agree with Begun and his team's conclusions. As noted by New Scientist, it is possible that the Nikiti ape is not related to hominins at all. It may have evolved similar features independently, developing teeth to eat similar foods or chew in a similar manner as early hominins.

Ultimately, Nikiti ape alone doesn't offer enough evidence to upend the out of Africa model, which is supported by a more robust fossil record and DNA evidence. But additional evidence may be uncovered to lend further credence to Begun's hypothesis or lead us to yet unconsidered ideas about humanity's evolution.