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Theory of Multiple Universes (Multiverse)

by Ron Kurtus (revised 30 November 2011)

The common theory is that there is one Universe (uni = one) that started with the Big Bang and is expanding in an infinite space. All matter is contained within the Universe.

However, that may be a limiting viewpoint. A new theory is that there may be multiple universes in various stages of expansion or contraction in space. They make up what is called the Multiverse, which may have been started by an even Bigger Bang.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.



Universe

The Universe consists of billions of galaxies, which in turn consist of billions of stars and solar systems.

The prevalent theory is that our Universe was created about 13.5 billion years ago from a single area where all the matter was compressed into a small ball that suddenly exploded. This is called the Big Bang theory.

Velocity (speed and direction) measurements show that the universe is expanding and that the billions of galaxies seem to be moving outward from one center area.

Our Universe is expanding from a center point

Our Universe is expanding from a center point

Size is huge

The estimated size of our Universe is 156 billion light years wide. That means the Universe is expanding at a rate faster than the speed of light. Special conditions allow exceeding the speed of light.

The size or outer edge of the Universe is defined by the furthest point where matter exists.

What is beyond?

The question is: What is beyond the existing outer edge of the Universe?

Many astronomers believe it is just empty space or nothing at all. But that may be limited thinking.

Multiple universes

It certainly may be possible that space extends beyond the limits of our universe and that there exist other universes. They would be distributed throughout space, in different stages of expansion. It might be possible that some universes expand to the point that they start to overlap.

The combination of multiple universes is called the Multiverse.

Multiple universes beyond our universe at varying stages of expansion

Multiple universes beyond our universe
at varying stages of expansion

Other universes could affect ours

There has been speculation that some "dark matter" and "dark energy" exist within our Universe that has been affecting the rate of expansion. But it is quite possible that the expansion of our Universe is really affected by force fields from neighboring universes.

Cannot get information from others

We are limited in our view of things because we seem to be unable to get information outside of our Universe. Not only are the distances across our Universe enormous, but the possible distances between the various universes are even more immense.

Expanding Multiverse

There may also be a Big Bang for the Multiverse. (Let's call it the "Bigger Bang"). In other words, all matter was compressed into a very small area and exploded, sending out highly dense areas of matter. As these clumps of matter spread out and expanded, they too exploded and formed multiple expanding universes.

I'm not sure how we can test these theories or concepts.

Summary

It is believed that the Universe start with what is called the Big Bang. Astronomers can measure how long ago it happened, as well as the size of the Universe.

However, there is the question of: What is beyond the outer limits of our Universe? Is it possible that there are multiple universes out there, perhaps starting with their own big bangs and in different stages of existence? In fact, is it even possible that there was a "Bigger Bang" where this Multiverse started?

These are interesting questions about which to ponder.


Look beyond the obvious


Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials

Websites

Multiverse theory suggested by microwave background - BBC News

Multiverse - Wikipedia

Does the Multiverse Really Exist? - Scientific American

Astronomy Resources

Books

Top-rated books on Astronomy


Questions and comments

Do you have any questions, comments, or opinions on this subject? If so, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.


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