As children we are constantly questioning everything. Like 'how does that work' or 'where do babies come from?' The questions were endless and since then we’ve been ingrained to ask questions. As we get older, queries become more complex. For most people, one question stands out the most - the meaning of life. This question is more nebulous than just what is the meaning. Before we can even crack the surface of that question we need to answer a vast subset of inquiries first, like: is our reality even real? Why we are here? Are we alone in the universe? How did the universe begin? The answers to these questions, so far, are for the most part theories, but some can be explained by hypothesis and observations. There is much compelling evidence for each idea, but you certainly shouldn’t, for the sake of your sanity, take these theories as gospel. The following is an examination of the most mind-blowing theories about the universe that will make you question your entire existence.
Some theorists have proposed the following idea, are we living in a computer simulation? Yea it sounds crazy but some prominent scientists and physicists think so. The Simulation Theory explains that because of the compelling likelihood of technological singularities occurring in the universe, it is quite likely that advanced civilizations, either us in the future, or aliens in a distant galaxy, have created or will create simulations. Since the number of these simulations would infinate, it's actually quite likely we are actually living in a computer simulation.
To add support for this mind blowing theory, theoretical physicist S. James Gate observed something astonishing in his recent String Theory research. Simply, deep inside the mathematics we use to describe our universe Gate has found computer code. Yes, you heard that, computer code, and not just any code, but an extremely unexpected self-dual linear binary error-correcting block code. That's right, error correcting 1’s and 0’s. So is computer code not unique to humanity? As we progress as an intelligent species was it expected that we would eventually find this? Are we actually living in one giant computer? Only the big code write in the sky could tell us that.
The Fermi Paradox
Since we just mentioned the Simulation Theory then, we have to explain what the The Fermi Paradox is. Basically this theory proposes an argument originally made by physicists Enrico Fermi and Michael H. Hart, who presented an apparent contradiction between how many alien civilizations are thought to be in the universe and our lack of evidence for their existence.
This paradox can be supported by the Drake Equation. The Drake Equation was formulated by Frank Drake. He argued that since there are billions of galaxies in the universe there could actually be intelligent life out there. But how much? When using the Drake Equation we can’t look for an exact answer but rather look at the questions that are prompted when attempting to come up with an answer. Obviously there is a tremendous amount of guesswork involved when filling in the variables like what we perceive is intelligent or what is life to us. Based on our understanding of science we think life should resemble us but what if it doesn’t somewhere else? To understand if there is intelligence beyond us can make you insane because there is so much we will never understand.
The great Arthur C. Clarke said it best: ' Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.'
You’ve probably hear the concept of the ‘Parallel Universe’ where everything is the same but different. In this parallel universe on Earth there could be still dinosaurs living among us or the Nazis won WWII like in Philip K. Dick book The Man in the High Castle. But what if there were actually more than one universe? What if there were billions? What if there were an infinite number of different realities? The Multiverse Theory proposes just this. The theory suggests that we are living in ‘bubbles’ which pop up and out of existence, like soap bubbles. If you take the Big Bang Theory then this would mean that the infancy of our universe was just the creation of one bubble in the vast sea of inflating universes, which will in turn eventually pop or whatever universes do when they go away.
We’ve all heard of black holes which are when a star dies and then generates energy, a ‘hole’, that sucks in all matter and light that cannot escape. But have you heard about white holes? White holes put simply are the opposite to the black hole theory. They spit out what the black holes suck in. Regarding our understanding of Albert Einstein’s general relativity theory, a white hole is a hypothetical region of spacetime which cannot be entered from the outside, although matter and light can escape from it. In this sense, it is the reverse of a black hole, which can only be entered from the outside. White holes are completely a theoretical mathematical concept, but if they are the opposite of black holes, are white holes the birth of a star? Probably this is just another interesting idea put forth by physicists, but white holes might help explain the birth of the universe.
We are living in a black hole
So you know space is a vacuum right? And you already know black holes suck in everything, well could mean we are actually living in a black hole? It's possible says some physicists. For most people, not scientists, the knowledge of black holes comes from popular science fiction and while sci-fi does a decent job explaining black hole theory, it's not explained fully. According to Dr. Nikodem Poplawski from Indiana University, all of the matter that gets sucked into a black hole might wind up turning into a new universe on the other end, hence the white hole theory. But what's going on inside that black hole? While most scientists will shrug their shoulders when posed with that question, Poplawski’s theory shows calculations that the theoretical other end of a black hole, a "white hole," is a time-reversed version of the black hole thus compression and expansion of matter is mathematically equivalent to the creation of a universe. So in a sense the universe that we know is waiting to be either born still or waiting to die.
False Vacuum Universe Theory
The False Vacuum Universe theory suggests that our own universe is actually in a false phase state as part of a much larger universe, meaning that our own universe and everything we know is temporary and unstable. This idea of the false vacuum that we are in, theorists claim will eventually ‘pop’ into the much larger universe or the ‘normal state’, meaning everything we know in our visible universe will cease to exist almost immediately without warning. So no need to mark your calendar. Some Theorists are using this hypothesis to explain the beginning and end to the Big Bang. Using this simple analogy to simply if you don't get it, the universe is like in a car with questionable tires on a road with tons of pot holes driving from a small rural town to the big city where he will hope to join the other universes marching in the Billion Universe March. Basically we’re on our way to get to the bigger universe and can introduce the idea of the idea of higher dimensions.
Sting theory was an outgrowth of a research begun by physicist Werner Heisenberg and later pick back up by others in the 2000's basically is potentially a the unified description of gravity and particle physics. String theory is the idea that the fundamental building blocks of nature are string-like rather than point-like, hence atoms. String theory is considered a self-contained mathematical model that describes all fundamental forces and forms of matter. It is a mainstream candidate for a theory of everything. So basically it is the answer to everything as we know it now.
But string theory has one very unique consequence that no other theory of physics has had before: extra dimensions. This theory predicts the number of dimensions of spacetime. For the mathematics of string theory to be consistent, the number of dimensions of spacetime must be 10. And according to physics we live in the 3rd dimension. So by theory there's actually 7 times more to find out.
Embedded Universe Theory
So if String Theory exists and we are in the 3rd dimension then what's before and after us? According to physics our world has more than the usual three spatial dimensions. So if String Theory suggests that there are other dimensions why can't we actually see them? The Embedded Universe Theory explains that very question. Imagine us looking down at an ant. The ant is living in the 2nd dimension, and while the ant can see above it, it cannot interact with what up there looking down at it unless we pick it up. Living life in a 2D world would mean that the ant would never be able to even comprehend that someone is even looking at them. It is all they will ever know or understand. Now looking at us, we're in the 3rd dimension as you know. We can see and interact with the 1st and 2nd but they cannot with us unless we let them. So regarding the 4th dimension and by using this analogy, the 4th can interact with us without us even knowing it. So by using this analogy you can explain all other dimensions. Each dimension is totally oblivious to the existence of additional dimensions. That would be why we humans, as well, could neither see the extra dimensions nor move in the corresponding extra directions. Scary but if theory is correct, someone or something you can't even try to comprehend is watching you!
Fear of Death Theory
As we’ve seen the universe around us is either dying or being reborn but we as humans deny the end deep down. We don’t understand it nor want to really deep down want to know. The fear of death or Terror Management Theory explains that everything we’ve ever accomplished or have done has been purely motivated by the desire to live, but realizing that death is inevitable. Cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker asserts in his 1973 book The Denial of Death that humans, as intelligent species, are not able to grasp the inevitability of death. They therefore spend their entire existence building and believing in cultural elements that illustrate how to make themselves stand out as individuals and give their lives significance and meaning. He states that death creates anxiety in humanity. Death marks unexpected and random moments that essentially makes the unknowable the ultimate fear. This fear causes people to spend most of their life and energy to explain, forestall, and avoid death. Everything comes to an end, or does it?