Universe or Multiverse?
Wednesday, March 26, 2003; 8-10 pm: TCSEQ Room 200, Stanford University

In recent years, advances in physics and cosmology have given the "multiverse" idea a plausible scientific basis. Its new lease on life can be traced to the popular theory of inflation, which held that a split second after the Big Bang the universe abruptly jumped in size by a huge factor. In the variant introduced by Andrei Linde, inflation spawns a network of branching "bubble" universes with different laws of physics operating inside of them. It has become fashionable to invoke some species of the multiverse theory to account for the well-known examples of parameter fine-tuning associated with the emergence of life in the observable universe where Earth has its home. The possibility of many universes raises deep scientific, philosophical, and theological questions. How does the multiverse modify our understanding of the ultimate origin of the physical universe in time? Does the cosmos reproduce forever? Can the multiverse theory be made consistent with Occam's razor? Is the theory falsifiable, and if so, how? If our universe, subtle, beautiful, and intelligible as it appears, is just, in Martin Rees's phrase, "one island in the cosmic archipelago," can it really be so special after all? To examine the conjectures that are so dramatically enlarging our cosmic perspective, three scientists will present their views on March 26, 2003, from 8-10 pm.

This evening of discussion is free and open to the public.

"Universe or Multiverse?" sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation — www.templeton.org