The Multiverse: A Garden of Forking Paths | Goldsmiths University

Tue Feb 18 2020 at 06:30 pm to Tue Mar 24 2020 at 08:30 pm
Goldsmiths University, New Cross, London, United Kingdom

Goldsmiths University, New Cross, London, United Kingdom

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Parallel universes, many worlds, alternative realities: the multiverse is a multitude of universes, some familiar, containing all histories of our world and every possible realisation of every person’s life; others incomprehensibly different, worlds beyond our imagination; uninhabited maelstroms of matter and energy. We will voyage into the unknown with the help of quantum physics, cosmology, string and information theory, simulated reality and the fiction of Jorge Borges.

The existence of the multiverse is a passionately debated topic in contemporary physics. It is argued as a solution to some deep conceptual problems: the interpretation of quantum mechanics, the vast numbers of landscapes in string theory and the anthropic problem - why the laws of physics in our universe are conducive for complex living organisms such as ourselves. This course examines these questions through an extended reading of Brian Greene’s popular account of the multiverse, The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos.

The course will outline the fundamental physics of each type of multiverse and explain why a multiverse hypothesis solves several of the inherent deeper conceptual issues. We’ll undertake background reading, especially Jorge Borges’s fiction, to provide a framework to support the development of these ideas. We will explore questions such as:


Have you ever wondered why one thing happens and not the other?

How life might have been different? Why there is a single course of events?

If the world is determined by the movements of the atoms that constitute our bodies and the objects around us, then how can we have freedom of thought and action?

Can anything novel happen in a clockwork universe?

Why is there rule and order and not chaos and randomness?

Are you a character in a cosmic arcade game of vast proportion?


This is a 10 week course.
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