Multiverse Musings

As you may know already there’ll be a new NOVA series on PBS in the Fall, based on one of Brian Greene’s books, The Fabric of the Cosmos. Last Fall I did some a shoot with them for my role in it (I’ve no idea how much they will use), and I learned a short while ago that they’ll be using some of it on the NOVA website too. They extracted some parts of the on-camera interview segments I did concerning the idea of multiple universes and transcribed them into something you can read online. Have a look here. I touch on the idea in a fragmented way, mostly being led by the questions I was asked, but it’s a fun topic to chat about, and may lead you in interesting directions should you wish to learn more, so have a look.

A word on the picture they are using (er…see above left). It seems to be one that the USC news/publicity office distributes upon request. It’s used on the USC website a lot, and I thought I’d give it an airing here on the blog. It was taken 7 or 8 years ago (I offered PBS a more recent one -all bearded and squarer-glassesed- but it seems that they preferred this image by far) by Phil Channing. Back then, the Office wanted me to bring a prop representing my work from my “lab” for that photo session. I explained that I had no lab, but I’d find something… The night before I got some suitable yarn and a crochet hook and crocheted a nicely weighted loop of string that I could use, and reminded myself from a book how to make a few of the string figures I used to make as a child….

Stay tuned here or there for more things I’ll be doing on the PBS NOVA site…


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12 Responses to Multiverse Musings

  1. Ele Munjeli says:

    Ah, Hollywood. They would give Einstein a haircut, and some makeup for those dark circles under his eyes.

  2. George says:

    I don’t understand this example with the bread slice. You are talking about brane worlds? Could you give the same example within the context of a string compactification with a Calabi Yau at every point of our 3D space?

  3. Clifford says:

    Well, that would be a somewhat different scenario.


  4. Elliot says:

    The first time I heard about the multiverse, I was certain it was wrong and crazy as it seemed at the time to violate occam’s razor. Why create a multiplicity of universes when one seems to do fine. Then over time I came to the conclusion that the existence of a multiverse allows for all the wonderful aspects of our own existence to emerge in this universe without resort to 1) a set of very unlikely coincidences or 2) the anthropic principle or 3) a divine creator. (external god) Now i find the concept quite comforting.


  5. Plato says:

    Hi Clifford,

    Another universe might be essentially right next to ours by going in another direction that’s not one of those four. We might call it “another kind of sideways.”See:Riddles of the Multiverse

    “Another kind of sideways” I thought was a interesting way to put perspective around envisioning these other universes. I mean, how do you adjust to time in relation to a inflating universe? Drive perspective back to some beginning?

    Some interesting thoughts also shared by Alexander Vilenkin


  6. Carol Johnson says:

    Nice to see this. Bought a book of string things for Zachary and I do some over the holidays – we’ll remember to send you a rival shot!!!! And of course you remember our rival shots from 2004!!! cmj+

  7. George says:


    But here is my problem: In String theory these D3 branes are localized at different points inside the Calabi Yau but they are filling our 3 spatial dimensions.

    For example you could have two different D3 branes localized at the tip of two different warped throats of a Calabi Yau but these two branes will both fill our 3 extended spatial dimensions. One of them will be the observable sector and the other the hidden sector.

    In your interview on the other hand you are saying that the other brane world should not occupy the same spatial directions.

    That’s why I asked if this scenario is realized in ST or if it is some toy model a la Randall-Sundrum.



    We live due to a natural balance
    of elemental forces and charges
    so intricate that we have not yet
    deciphered their entire pattern.

    Only on this wet and rocky sphere with a magnetic core,
    only at this distance from a moderate, long-burning star,
    protected by our cratering moon, and sheltered by outer giants,
    could life have had time
    to evolve to survive
    and visa versa.

    Sensing the gravity bleeding
    mathematically into other dimensions
    reveals a still greater harmony of construction
    that has made us possible.

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