Scientists Say: Multiverse
Multiverse (noun, “MUHL-tee-vers”)
This is the idea that our universe isn’t the only one out there. Instead, it’s one of many, many universes. How many? No one knows. There could be lots.
In one version of the multiverse, a lot of universes might have formed right after the Big Bang, when our universe expanded very, very quickly. If that expansion continued outside our universe, there might be other universes, ones that don’t have anything to do with us. These are called “bubble universes.”
In another version of the multiverse, other universes have everything to do with ours. In this “many worlds” idea, each universe would be an alternate version of our own reality. In this universe, you wore sneakers today. In another, you might have worn sandals. In a third, you might not exist.
The bubble universe and many worlds idea are only two options. There are other ways to make multiverses. But not all scientists agree that multiverses are real. After all, no one has ever found another universe other than our own. There’s not even consensus on how to find them. One way might be to look at gravity. Other universes might be large, with a lot of gravity. That gravity could pull on our universe. By measuring that pull, it could be possible for scientists to detect a multiverse. But so far, there is no evidence.
In a sentence
In some theories of the multiverse, every time you decide to wear a red shirt instead of a blue one, there’s another world in which you made the opposite decision.
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Big Bang The rapid expansion of dense matter that, according to current theory, marked the origin of the universe. It is supported by physics’ current understanding of the composition and structure of the universe.
galaxy A massive group of stars bound together by gravity. Galaxies, which each typically include between 10 million and 100 trillion stars, also include clouds of gas, dust and the remnants of exploded stars.
gravity The force that attracts anything with mass, or bulk, toward any other thing with mass. The more mass that something has, the greater its gravity.
multiverse A term to connote the idea that our universe may be one of many (perhaps an infinite number of alternative universes) and that different things may happen in each.
planet A celestial object that orbits a star, is big enough for gravity to have squashed it into a roundish ball and has cleared other objects out of the way in its orbital neighborhood. To accomplish the third feat, the object must be big enough to have pulled neighboring objects into the planet itself or to have slung them around the planet and off into outer space. Astronomers of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) created this three-part scientific definition of a planet in August 2006 to determine Pluto’s status. Based on that definition, IAU ruled that Pluto did not qualify. The solar system now includes eight planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
universe The entire cosmos: All things that exist throughout space and time. It has been expanding since its formation during an event known as the Big Bang, some 13.8 billion years ago (give or take a few hundred million years).