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Is there more than one universe?
Question Date: 2014-03-13
Answer 1:

Well, that depends what you mean by "universe"! Usually, when we talk about the universe, we're referring to the visible universe - that is, everything we can possible see or detect via observations and experiments. In that case, we don't know if there's more than one universe, and we'll never be able to know because by definition, we can't see anything except our own universe! But if you can't detect something, even in principle, does it make sense to ask whether or not it exists? You see, you've stumbled on a very interesting philosophical question of what it means for something to exist!

However, there are some theories of physics (like string theory) that say that our universe could be one of many possible universes, and that even though all the stuff we see is stuck in our universe, different universes can pull on each other gravitationally. That means that even though we can't see matter in other universes, maybe we could detect them by their gravitational tug on us. In that case, we could talk about the existence of other universes, but we simply don't have any evidence that they exist.

Answer 2:

The origin of the word "universe" is Latin: uni=one and verse=turned. Together this creates the concept of everything rotating as one. So, rooted in the word itself is the understanding that there is only one universe, and we use the word to describe everything that exists that we know about and even beyond that into the unknown. In that sense, there is only one universe, there is only one 'everything'. People sometimes talk about an alternate universe or similar kinds of terms, but so far we know of nothing else outside of the thing that we have named the universe. It really is all-inclusive.

Answer 3:

There are theories that have hypothesized the existence of other universes. For example, the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics suggests that we exist as part of a multiverse, where there may be a finite or infinite amount of other, parallel universes to our own. This is not something we can really test (at least not with the technology we have now), so for now, this idea remains a hypothesis.

Answer 4:

We have no way of observing other universes (not yet anyway - there are scientists working on it), and so no way of knowing whether they're there or not. At least, no way of knowing that scientifically.

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