Chilean astronomer Mario Hamuy has declared "There is no evidence that there are parallel universes," simultaneously acknowledging that "It is a very good theory."
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Hamuy, professor of astronomy at the University of Chile and Cerro Calan Observatory, was speaking ahead of Peru’s Hay Festival. The event, beginning November 11 in Arequipa, celebrates science and the arts.
BBC Mundo, due to interview Hamuy at the festival’s launch, invited readers to submit questions to the National Award of Exact Sciences of Chile recipient.
Hamuy, also president of Chile’s National Commission of Scientific and Technological Research, addressed a number of interesting issues, including the Big Bang, whether our universe is infinite, and what shape that universe might be.
Diego Caballero, a reader from the Dominican Republic, asked if there could be universes parallel to ours "and even millions of copies identical to ours?"
In response, Hamuy said: "There is no evidence that they exist. It has been proposed as a theory to eliminate the problem that presents itself with a universe so adjusted to our existence that there seems to be too many possibilities.
"To avoid this problem, theoretical astrophysicists created the idea that there were many Big Bangs, many parallel universes, each with its laws and only a few, as in ours, with the conditions for life. It is a very good theory, but there is no evidence that they exist."
As a child, Hamuy was so fascinated with the heavens that he borrowed a pair of binoculars his father had bought for horseracing and climbed onto the roof of his home to observe the stars, the BBC reports.
His most enduring fascination, he told a reader from Honduras, is the Big Bang. "What most surprises me and causes me curiosity is the Big Bang: the beginning of the universe.
"We do not know exactly how the universe began; we do not know if there was a ‘before’ the Big Bang or not, and I think that is one of the questions that will attract the attention of astrophysicists in the coming years."
Is our universe infinite? Hard to say, says Hamuy. "As far as we can see, which is 13,800 million light-years away, the universe shows no curvature indicating that it is finite. Evidence suggests the universe is flat and infinite.
"If we could observe beyond the 13,800 million light years of our horizon, perhaps we could observe a certain curvature, but we do not yet have the ability to measure it with enough precision.
"It is a question that’s very difficult to answer, because when the universe started with the Big Bang, there was a stage of accelerated expansion in which any curvature the universe had was practically erased.
"That is, we do not know if it is finite or infinite, but we do know that it is much larger than the horizon we can see."