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First Things First: The Physics of Causality
Why do we remember the past and not the future? Untangling the connections between cause and effect, choice, and entropy.

Can Time Be Saved From Physics?
Philosophers, physicists and neuroscientists discuss how our sense of time’s flow might arise through our interactions with external stimuli—despite suggestions from Einstein's relativity that our perception of the passage of time is an illusion.

A devilish new framework of thermodynamics that focuses on how we observe information could help illuminate our understanding of probability and rewrite quantum theory.

Gravity's Residue
An unusual approach to unifying the laws of physics could solve Hawking's black-hole information paradox—and its predicted gravitational "memory effect" could be picked up by LIGO.

Could Mind Forge the Universe?
Objective reality, and the laws of physics themselves, emerge from our observations, according to a new framework that turns what we think of as fundamental on its head.

December 13, 2019

CATEGORY: Blog [back]
TOPIC: Review of “A Big Bang in a Little Room: The Quest to Create New Universes” by Zeeya Merali [refresh]
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Blogger Ian Durham wrote on Feb. 9, 2017 @ 16:51 GMT
In all the talk of the multiverse that gets tossed around these days, there's a subtle but important point that is often lost: there are really two completely different notions of a multiverse. What one thinks of when someone utters the word "multiverse" likely depends on whether one is most influenced by cosmology or by quantum physics. To the latter, the multiverse is typically viewed in the context of the Everett-DeWitt interpretation of quantum mechanics in which every process that includes more than one possible outcome, leads to a bifurcation of the universe in which the process occurred, into multiple universes, one for each possible outcome of the process. In such a multiverse (whose core idea is due more to DeWitt than Everett), everything that can happen, will happen.

In the inflationary multiverse, each "universe" is really a patch of space that becomes isolated due to eternal inflation. This is subtly different than the Everett-DeWitt model which suggests an actual bifurcation of reality. As it turns out, the difference could also have ethical and moral implications, some of which are discussed in Zeeya Merali's new book A Big Bang in a Little Room: The Quest to Create New Universes (Basic Books, 2017; $27.99).

Merali's book explores the quest by some physicists to produce new, "baby" universes in a lab. As preposterous as it sounds, the idea is largely grounded in accepted physics, though does remain highly speculative. In an Everett-DeWitt model, new universes are constantly being created ad infinitum as we blithely go about our day. There appears to be little we could do to affect change in any branching universe within this multiverse model. On the other hand, the inflationary universe model of the multiverse holds the promise of intentionally planning the creation of a baby universe which raises the thorny question of whether we would be responsible for the suffering of any living beings produced in that universe. We would, to some extent, be playing God.

These and other issues are tackled head-on in Merali's book, but in an engaging and subtle manner. The book is largely constructed from a series of interviews with physicists around the globe who are either actively thinking about how to create baby universes or who played a role in the development of inflationary theory. As someone who has been interviewed by Merali multiple times, I can personally attest to her ability to make the interviewee feel at ease and this sense clearly comes across in the book. Interviews are more like discussions with Zeeya.

One get’s the sense, though, that this project was less about writing a book and more about her own quest to more fully understand the universe. At times, one gets the impression that she is wrestling with some deeply personal questions. Far from detracting from the narrative, however, I think it adds to the human aspect of the story.

I did have a few minor quibbles here and there, but Merali is an accomplished scientist herself having received her PhD in physics from Brown University under noted cosmologist Robert Brandenberger, and so some of my quibbles might be considered "professional differences." In all, it was an enjoyable book that addressed an exciting area of modern physics research in a thought-provoking way. For anyone interested in the "big questions," this book is essential reading since it deals with perhaps the biggest question of all: can we—should we—humble human beings create a universe?

A Big Bang in a Little Room: The Quest to Create New Universes is available to buy here.

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FQXi Administrator Zeeya Merali wrote on Feb. 9, 2017 @ 16:54 GMT
Thank you Ian for those lovely words! The book includes interviews with many FQXi members and other eminent scientists, so I hope that there is plenty here for our community members to enjoy.

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Feb. 9, 2017 @ 18:48 GMT
Hello Mr Durham,Zeeya,

It is a beautiful article.These multiverses are more subtil than we imagine considering many paramters.It is even intriguing when we correlate with the singularities, the souls and the uniquenss.Thanks for sharing.

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FQXi Administrator Zeeya Merali replied on Feb. 9, 2017 @ 18:58 GMT
Thanks Steve.

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Steve Dufourny replied on Feb. 12, 2017 @ 15:26 GMT
You are welcome Zeeya,

I like these mathematical extrapolations because the subjectivity and objectivity can converge considering that earch we can create our own universe Inside the universe and the multiverse returning towards this uniqueness considering the quantum singularities and main gravitational codes turning aroung a king of matjematical physical complex cosmological singularity.The central BH in my model.It is intriguing when we insert the spherical volumes for these singularities and we extraopolate with multiverses,multispheres for me I see it like that.We have many roads of analyses, subjectives and objectives for the quantum scale and the cosm scale.The fact to have different spherical volumes for the central singularity for the different universes imply that we have different gravitational aether Inside this universe.Wowww the combinations are incredible for both electromagnetic and gravit forces in each closed evolutive system.In all case the spherisation by encoding is foundamental in all universes.The relevance is to correlate thje constants like c with these volumes for example.If all this is correct, mr tegmark has made a relevant work.Because when we consider that all we have a road Inside all these universal sphères Inside the main sphere, and that our central main mathematical physical codes, our souls is correlated, it is incredible the combinations.I am intrigued by these multiverses multispheres about this main centyral biggest singularity.If Mr Tegmark is right, so our central BH is not the main central sphere of God if I can say.The imagination appears to be infinite in its intuitive extrapolation.We can create so for our singular soul, our own universe if we go still farer with this singularity.It is crazy in fact this universal mechanic.Wowww

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Steve Dufourny replied on Feb. 12, 2017 @ 15:38 GMT
At the begining, several years ago ,I didn't understand well this multiverses.Now Of course in strudying on this Platform since many years,I see better this generality.I didn't understand this problem of uniquenss if I can say.But now after all when we consider these spherical volulmes for the centyral mathematical physical singularities ,thazt becomes very relevant considering these multispheres because we have a central main singularity at all this system.That permits to ask ourself better asks about the center where all has began in our model of Big Bang to make simple.If we insert these volumes and this matter not baryonic ,we can have better answer for our central singularity but also a road for the others spherical volumes of others singularities of others universal sphères.If I correlate with the encoding and the spherisation, so the fact that matters evolves and encode, so we can even extrapolate the different electromagnetic and gravitational systems for each universes.Where is this singularity,entropical, the main center ?in our universal sphere or no? The other relevance is to correlate with the body soul mind problem and this quantum gravitation more this subjective analyse of own universe where intentions and souls could converge.It is fascinating considering that main entropy is infinite in its potential.You imagine the kinetic distribution with these spherical volumes ? wowwww wowww wowww very relevant .

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MIROSLAW KOZLOWSKI wrote on Feb. 12, 2017 @ 12:02 GMT
Dear Zeeya Merali

Why we need another universe ( or univereseS) created by Homo Sapiens Sapiens?

1. For writting new papers to Phys. Rev. Letters ?

2. To play one game in town

3. To find that Old Creator maked the faults?

My answae is


2. 3%

3. 2%..

To the point I cite David Bohm

In some sense man is a microcosmos of the Universe therefore what man is, is a clue to the Universe. We are enfolded in the Universe

David Bohm

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Pentcho Valev wrote on Feb. 19, 2017 @ 16:40 GMT
Peter Woit defines "Fake Physics" and gives examples:

Fake Physics

Here is some elaboration:

A Big Bang in a Little Room

Yet what Peter Woit describes are metastases, not the Original Malignancy. Here it is, presented by Neil deGrasse Tyson as "a cosmic conspiracy of the highest order":

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries, pp. 123-124: "If everyone, everywhere and at all times, is to measure the same speed for the beam from your imaginary spacecraft, a number of things have to happen. First of all, as the speed of your spacecraft increases, the length of everything - you, your measuring devices, your spacecraft - shortens in the direction of motion, as seen by everyone else. Furthermore, your own time slows down exactly enough so that when you haul out your newly shortened yardstick, you are guaranteed to be duped into measuring the same old constant value for the speed of light. What we have here is A COSMIC CONSPIRACY OF THE HIGHEST ORDER."

David Tong: "Special relativity is where the famous equation E=mc^2 comes from. The central idea of the theory is that there is a speed limit in our Universe. The laws of physics conspire so that nothing can ever travel faster than the speed of light."

Robert Scherrer: "In fact, the laws for adding and subtracting speeds have to conspire to keep the speed of the light the same no matter how fast or in what direction an observer is moving. The only way to make this happen is for space and time to expand or contact as objects move."

Brian Greene: "Einstein proposed a truly stunning idea - that space and time could work together, constantly adjusting by exactly the right amount so that no matter how fast you might be moving, when you measure the speed of light it always comes out to be 671000000 miles per hour."

Brian Greene: "If space and time did not behave this way, the speed of light would not be constant and would depend on the observer's state of motion. But it is constant; space and time do behave this way. Space and time adjust themselves in an exactly compensating manner so that observations of light's speed yield the same result, regardless of the observer's velocity."

Pentcho Valev

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Robert H McEachern wrote on Feb. 21, 2017 @ 15:21 GMT
"As preposterous as it sounds, the idea is largely grounded in accepted physics..."

That ought to be viewed as an indictment of "accepted physics", rather than as support for the hypothesis.

Rob McEachern

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Pentcho Valev wrote on Feb. 28, 2017 @ 18:20 GMT
Einsteinians Want Granular Spacetime

Sabine Hossenfelder: "...hints at a deeper truth: that space-time is made of small elements whose collective motion gives rise to the force we call gravity. In this case, gravity would not be a truly fundamental phenomenon, but an emergent one."

My comment in Forbes:

This "deeper truth" is not even wrong. Spacetime is not an ab initio model that one can modify (by introducing granularity for instance). It is a CONSEQUENCE of Einstein's constant-speed-of-light postulate, and if the consequence is unsatisfactory, the postulate must be false (logic forbids the combination "true postulate, wrong consequence"):

"Special relativity is based on the observation that the speed of light is always the same, independently of who measures it, or how fast the source of the light is moving with respect to the observer. Einstein demonstrated that as an immediate consequence, space and time can no longer be independent, but should rather be considered a new joint entity called "spacetime."

Pentcho Valev

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Thomas Howard Ray wrote on Feb. 28, 2017 @ 21:02 GMT

I am compelled to agree. Relativity lives and dies by mathematical completeness.

It is complete, however.


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Georgina Woodward replied on Mar. 1, 2017 @ 00:10 GMT
With a category error.

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Thomas Howard Ray replied on Mar. 1, 2017 @ 01:05 GMT
Nah. Relativity is a physical theory, not a philosophical trope.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Mar. 1, 2017 @ 01:35 GMT
Category error.

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Pentcho Valev wrote on Apr. 5, 2017 @ 09:07 GMT
Suicidal Principles in Science

"In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable what then?"

This is Big Brother's world, but are there principles equivalent to 2+2=5 in our world? That is, principles as obviously false as 2+2=5? Yes. Two examples:

1. The second law of thermodynamics.

2. Einstein's constant-speed-of-light postulate.

This video shows water placed in a strong electric field, obviously able to produce unlimited amount of work at the expense of heat absorbed from the surroundings (no other source of energy is conceivable):

"The Formation of the Floating Water Bridge including electric breakdowns"

Any correct interpretation of the Doppler effect shows that THE SPEED OF LIGHT VARIES WITH THE SPEED OF THE OBSERVER. Consider a light source emitting a series of pulses equally distanced from one another. A stationary observer (receiver) measures the frequency of the pulses:

The observer starts moving with constant speed towards the light source - the measured frequency increases:

The following quotation is relevant:

Albert Einstein Institute: "By observing the two indicator lights, you can see for yourself that, once more, there is a blue-shift - the pulse frequency measured at the receiver is somewhat higher than the frequency with which the pulses are sent out. This time, the distances between subsequent pulses are not affected, but still there is a frequency shift: As the receiver moves towards each pulse, the time until pulse and receiver meet up is shortened. In this particular animation, which has the receiver moving towards the source at one third the speed of the pulses themselves, four pulses are received in the time it takes the source to emit three pulses."

Since "four pulses are received in the time it takes the source to emit three pulses", the speed of the pulses relative to the moving observer (receiver) is (4/3)c, in violation of Einstein's relativity.

When the initially stationary observer starts moving towards the light source with speed v, the speed of the light relative to him becomes c'=c+v, in violation of Einstein's relativity, and the frequency he measures shifts accordingly - from f=c/λ to f'=c'/λ=(c+v)/λ:

"Let's say you, the observer, now move toward the source with velocity vO. You encounter more waves per unit time than you did before. Relative to you, the waves travel at a higher speed: v'=v+vO. The frequency of the waves you detect is higher, and is given by: f'=v'/λ=(v+vO)/λ."

"vO is the velocity of an observer moving towards the source. This velocity is independent of the motion of the source. Hence, the velocity of waves relative to the observer is c + vO. [...] The motion of an observer does not alter the wavelength. The increase in frequency is a result of the observer encountering more wavelengths in a given time."

"Moving Observer. Now suppose the source is fixed but the observer is moving towards the source, with speed v. In time t, ct/λ waves pass a fixed point. A moving point adds another vt/λ. So f'=(c+v)/λ."

Pentcho Valev

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Quantum Antigravity wrote on Apr. 18, 2017 @ 00:43 GMT
EXPERIMENTAL quantum Anti-gravity —

I have made a theoretical as well as an empirical

scientific discovery of quantum gravity

and quantum antigravity.

Present day quantum gravity theories suffer from

too many mathematical space dimensions, and from

too few conclusive experimental results.

My hypothesis is simple, clear,

and subject to easy empirical verification :

Should you have any questions, or need clarification,

I am more than happy to answer.

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Pentcho Valev wrote on May. 3, 2017 @ 16:21 GMT
The Time Crystal Hoax

New Scientist: "IT'S LIKE something out of a bad dream. You're stuck in a dance hall performing an interminable waltz. The hours go by and the dance continues. The hours melt into days, years, centuries, millennia. Eventually, billions of years have passed in which the universe has transformed into a featureless void populated only by you and your fellow indefatigable waltzers, dancing throughout eternity. The vision is surreal, nightmarish - and entirely against the laws of physics. Anything that repeats on loop without an external energy source to power it seems to bend the cast-iron laws of thermodynamics, which govern how energy flows and can be exploited. So when five years ago, Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek speculated about a type of material that he called time crystals whose components could, in fact, do just that, he faced a wave of scepticism. "I took a lot of grief," he says. In the time since, Wilczek's brainchildren have been championed, vilified, proved to be impossible, and now, apparently, made in the lab."

Frank Wilczek should stop this fraudulent hype (fake news are more rampant in science than in politics). His time crystals, "made in the lab", are regularly jolted by the experimentalist - no "interminable waltz".

There are genuine time crystals "jolted" by ambient heat and breathtakingly violating the second law of thermodynamics:

"The Formation of the Floating Water Bridge including electric breakdowns"

See more here:

Perpetual Motion of the Second Kind: Theoretically Impossible, Actually Commonplace

Pentcho Valev

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Joe Fisher wrote on May. 5, 2017 @ 15:12 GMT
I merely wish to point out that “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955) Physicist & Nobel Laureate.

Only nature could produce a reality so simple, a single cell amoeba could deal with it.

The real Universe must consist only of one unified visible infinite physical surface occurring in one infinite dimension, that am always illuminated by infinite non-surface light.

A more detailed explanation of natural reality can be found in my essay, SCORE ONE FOR SIMPLICITY, published on line by the Foundational Questions Institute at url:

. I do hope that you will read my essay and perhaps comment on its merit.

Joe Fisher, Realist

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Joe Fisher wrote on Oct. 6, 2017 @ 14:58 GMT
Dear Ian Durham.

It seems to have escaped your attention that a real earth existed millions of years before man appeared on it and started trying to guess where a singular earth may have came from,.

“Merali's book explores the quest by some physicists to produce new, "baby" universes in a lab.”

As Nature produced the only Universe conceivable millions of years before human observers appeared on earth, it logically follows that Nature must have produced the simplest visible Universe obtainable.

My research has concluded that the real visible Universe must consist of only one single unified visible infinite surface occurring eternally in one single infinite dimension that am always illuminated by infinite non-surface light.

Joe Fisher, ORCID ID 0000-0003-3988-8687. Unaffiliated

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Marcel-Marie LeBel wrote on Apr. 14, 2018 @ 20:49 GMT
Our universe is a Planck universe. Anything sporting a different value for the Planck belongs to another universe.

I don’t see how either the inflationary universe or the quantum “multiverse” universe could account for the change in Planck value of anything.

At the Big Bang, a Planck (present value) universe could fill up rapidly the proto atom (original time volume available). On the other hand, this proto atom would look empty to a new “substance” sporting” a different value for the Planck, which would fill it as well .. and so on.

The result would be a number of universes all piled up and ignoring each other. Then, the bursting of the proto atom as inflation...

At the Big Bang, QM may have played a role in shuffling the Planck value in order to make place for the filling of the proto atom.


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