String theory likely holds the secret to the magnitude of our universe ~ which is probably actually a “multiverse,” according to physicist Brian Greene.
“You almost can't avoid having some version of the multiverse in your studies if you push deeply enough in the mathematical descriptions of the physical universe,” Greene tells NPR. “There are many of us thinking of one version of parallel universe theory or another. If it's all a lot of nonsense, then it's a lot of wasted effort going into this far out idea. But if this idea is correct, it is a fantastic upheaval in our understanding.”
Greene believes the key to understanding these multiverses comes from string theory, the area of physics he's studied for the past 25 years.
According to NPR:
In a nutshell, string theory attempts to reconcile a mathematical conflict between two already accepted ideas in physics: quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity.
“Einstein's theory of relativity does a fantastic job for explaining big things,” Greene says. “Quantum mechanics is fantastic for the other end of the spectrum ~ for small things. The big problem is that each theory is great for each realm, but when they confront each other, they are ferocious antagonists and the mathematics falls apart.”
String theory smoothes out the mathematical inconsistencies that currently exist between quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity. It posits that the entire universe can be explained in terms of really, really small strings that vibrate in 10 or 11 dimensions ~ meaning dimensions we can't see. If it exists, it could explain literally everything in the universe ~ from subatomic particles to the laws of speed and gravity.
Greene, the author of The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos, tackles the existence of multiple universes in his latest book The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Law of the Cosmos.
Click here for the NPR article and “Fresh Air” interview.