Hey Bill Nye! Is the Multiverse a Paradoxical Idea?
The Many Worlds Interpretation is just one of a few multiverse hypotheses—but is there a glaring paradox in this popular idea?
Bill Nye, scientist, engineer, comedian, author, and inventor, is a man with a mission: to help foster a scientifically literate society, to help people everywhere understand and appreciate the science that makes our world work. Making science entertaining and accessible is something Bill has been doing most of his life.
In Seattle Nye began to combine his love of science with his flair for comedy, when he won the Steve Martin look-alike contest and developed dual careers as an engineer by day and a stand-up comic by night. Nye then quit his day engineering day job and made the transition to a night job as a comedy writer and performer on Seattle’s home-grown ensemble comedy show “Almost Live.” This is where “Bill Nye the Science Guy®” was born. The show appeared before Saturday Night Live and later on Comedy Central, originating at KING-TV, Seattle’s NBC affiliate.
While working on the Science Guy show, Nye won seven national Emmy Awards for writing, performing, and producing. The show won 18 Emmys in five years. In between creating the shows, he wrote five children’s books about science, including his latest title, “Bill Nye’s Great Big Book of Tiny Germs.”
Nye is the host of three currently-running television series. “The 100 Greatest Discoveries” airs on the Science Channel. “The Eyes of Nye” airs on PBS stations across the country.
Bill’s latest project is hosting a show on Planet Green called “Stuff Happens.” It’s about environmentally responsible choices that consumers can make as they go about their day and their shopping. Also, you’ll see Nye in his good-natured rivalry with his neighbor Ed Begley. They compete to see who can save the most energy and produce the smallest carbon footprint. Nye has 4,000 watts of solar power and a solar-boosted hot water system. There’s also the low water use garden and underground watering system. It’s fun for him; he’s an engineer with an energy conservation hobby.
Nye is currently the Executive Director of The Planetary Society, the world’s largest space interest organization.
Austin: My name is Austin Bogner and I have a question about the multiverse. So if there does exist an infinite amount of universes, then mathematically there’s a 100 percent chance that there exists at least one universe out there in the multiverse that cannot support the idea of any other universe existing except for that one particular universe. And my question is: doesn’t this create a paradox in the multi-universe idea?
Bill Nye: Austin, you are asking a fabulous question about multiverses. The answer for me is: clearly I don’t know. This is to say, is it just a question of definition, that there is one universe and within it are subverses or multiverses? Or is it actually: everything that we know and see and can detect is nominally replicated at some other dimension or some other space beyond space that we are only able to imagine?
And the only reason we think that they might exist, these multiverses beyond space time, is because there’s no reason to exclude them. Like there’s no reason they couldn’t exist.
These are wonderful questions. I’ve seen many talks on this. I’ve gone to symposia about this. And I don’t know the answer.
However, we have the Spitzer space telescope. We have Hubble space telescope. We’re going to have James Webb space telescope. And these instruments along with ground-based telescopes are peering farther and farther into the past, looking at light that came from the Big Bang and the unknowable time, the Planck time, getting back that far.
And so what came before that? Is that even a meaningful question? Is it just our perception and the nature of our perception of time that limits our ability to understand what might be beyond our universe or not?
These are wonderful questions, but here’s what I’ll say: When you get a chance support space exploration, because learning more about the cosmos tells us more about ourselves and tells us more about where we all might have come from—And then ultimately, “Are we alone in all this?”, in the cosmos or in this universe or beyond. Whoa. That’s a great question man.
The idea of a multiverse as we conceive of it was first mentioned by Nobel Prize-winning Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1952, who warned a lecture hall full of people that this may "seem lunatic", but perhaps his equations did not show mere alternative versions of history, but alternatives all happening simultaneously. For this week's question, Austin wants to know about the multiverses paradox: if every alternate timeline happens, and anything that can happen does—somewhere—then wouldn't there be a universe that could not support the idea of any other universe existing? All multiverse hypothesis are as yet unverified by experiments, so it's all up in the air. But if we ever want to find out, the way to do it is by supporting space exploration, because the more we find out about the cosmos, the closer we get to knowledge about our own origins and the greater our capacity grows for multiverse experimentation. Bill Nye's most recent book is Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World.
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