parallel universes: science and fiction

There’s an livechat transcript at the BBC with physicist/cosmologist Michio Kaku about superstring/M-theory that is loaded with gems. The man is a walking fount of physics aphorisms. His pronouncements almost have a Zen koan-quality to them. I’ve collected some of the better ones below.

we hope to find echoes from the tenth dimension.

dark matter may be a higher musical note on the string.

Boiling water is a purely quantum mechanical event.

Time is like a river. It bends and flows around the Universe.

the problem of consciousness in a quantum-theory is still an unresolved problem.

the forces of the universe can be viewed as ripples in hyper-space.

Our bodies are symphonies of vibrating strings and membranes.

the universe is a symphony of vibrating membranes and string.

we may have to escape into hyper-space if we are to survive the death of the Universe.

the farthest object in the universe would be the back of your head.

we do not find Fermat’s last theorem in string theory.

One theory says that the nearest bubble to our Universe maybe one millimetre away from us. This theory will be tested in Geneva in a few more years.

M-Theory unifies subatomic particles and universes.

The Greeks tried to prove 2000 years ago that hyper-space was impossible.

those experiments are not really necessary. Theory is enough.

the Universe is for free.

there are many solutions to M-Theory, one of which may be our Universe.

Some people have said that time does not exist, which confuses the perception of time with time as a co-ordinate.

Centuries from now, M-Theory, I feel, may eventually determine the destiny of all intelligent life in the Universe.

woah. Most of these make sense if you have even a layman’s understanding of the basics of string theory, but taken alone they have a surreal quality that I found irresistible. He’s obviously got a music bias, but I’m filing this under poetry.

3 thoughts on “parallel universes: science and fiction”

  1. I recently read a disturbing editorial in Nature or Science that said many string theorists are beginning to believe that theory is enough. Experiments are not needed to prove their theories as long as the mathematical proof is elegant enough. The author was worried that faced with the reality that string theory has yet to really provide a testable hypothesis, string theorists have opted to ignore the possibility that they might be wrong in favor of the “experiments aren’t needed” explanation.

  2. I think that there are definite limitations to any theory even with empirical testability. Without it, the theory is equivalent to metaphysics as far as I am concerned.

  3. And I wouldn’t mind if they admitted it was more metaphysics than science, but string theorists don’t. If hardcore physicists give up experiments, how are we going to convince the softer sciences that experimental rigor is important?

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