Thursday, May 25, 2006

Our Inter-Galactic Escape Hatch


Great scientists explain murky concepts very lucidly. I had the good luck of listening to Michio Kaku on NPR. Kaku is the author of Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos.

Kaku's specialty is String Theory, which is too difficult to explain here, but he did speak about "dark matter"—matter which has a weight like regular matter but which is invisible to us and is about ten times more plentiful than regular matter. What, then, is this "dark matter" made up of?

To answer that, think for a moment about a black hole—a star whose gravity is so strong that it has collapsed under its own weight and not even light can escape from its pull. Where does all the matter go that gets sucked into a black hole? Kaku suggests that the regular matter gets spit out into another universe, a parallel universe, where this matter gets converted into dark matter, presumably. Thus, the "inverted" black hole might look quite similar to a big bang. Could it be, then, that our own big bang was the result of another universe's black hole?

While mind-bending, Kaka turns it up a notch when he talks about the end of our own universe. "Eventually, billions of years from now, our universe will become too cold to be habitable... and we will choose to either die, adapt, or move on." Given that the first two options aren't viable, how could we leave our own universe?

Easy—we build an escape hatch to one of these parallel worlds. All we need are atom smashers 10 light years wide.

Did you get that? Can you even conceive how large that is? In layman's terms, it's about 60 trillion miles. From Wiki: "Earth's most distant space probe, Voyager 1, was 13 light hours away from Earth in September 2004. It took Voyager 27 years to cover that distance." Our nearest known star is Proxima Centauri and it's 4.22 light years away. So this atom smasher would have to be 1.56 light years larger than a round trip ticket to Centauri. Crikey.

Unfortunately, with machines that "small", we'd still only be able to slide mere molecules through this inter-universal portal. That means we'd have to use nanobots to "blip" into the other universe, get them to find a habitable place to thrive, recreate our DNA and personalities, and then repopulate.

To put it in the words of Alias' Marshall, "That sound—that "boom" you just heard—that's my mind, exploding."

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