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April 19, 2015 | by  | in Science |
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Where are all the parallel universes?

Some physicists think they may have figured out where the evidence of parallel universes has been hiding. If parallel universes exist, that is. Modal realists will tell you that all possible worlds, including the one in which Sherlock and I ride a dinosaur to the Ministry of Magic each morning, are as real as the actual world. This is the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, where every possibility is actualised, and science steps politely to one side to let philosophy and amazing fan fiction pass. Sadly, the many-worlds theory cannot be tested (unlike the effectiveness of homeopathy). But in a new paper published in Physics Letters B, Ahmed Farag Ali, Mir Faizal, and Mohammed M. Khalil suggest that detecting miniature black holes at a certain energy levels would be the first step towards finding real parallel universes in extra dimensions. Mini black holes are evidence of extra dimension, finding extra dimensions would support string theory, and string theory predicts parallel universes.

This is not all new. But the paper claims that the reason the search for mini black holes has so far been fruitless is that we were looking in the wrong place. That is, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the largest particle collider in the world, has only searched for mini black holes at energy levels that are far too low. Ali, Faizal, and Khalil suggest that the model of gravity that was used to predict which energy levels were likely to contain black holes did not account for quantum effects and needed to be altered.

Essentially, the more dimensions you have the easier it is to create a black hole. Extra dimensions lower the energy required to produce black holes because the gravity in our universe leaks into the extra dimensions. However, the new work suggests that more energy is required to produce mini black holes than previously thought, because the geometry of space and time is deformed at mini-black-hole-type scales. To account for this distortion the team used the relatively new (and charmingly named) theory of “gravity’s rainbow”.

So now we wait and see what happens at the LHC when the energies are adjusted. If mini black holes are found at the predicted energies it will be a great victory for string theorists and friends. If not, it won’t prove much. The extra dimensions may be smaller than expected, or the parameters of gravity’s rainbow may need to be modified. As many a weary anti-string-theorist will tell you, it’s nigh impossible to prove that something doesn’t exist. No matter how silly or Jurassic deer stalker wearing it is.

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