American astrophysicist Avi Loeb got the public eye by publishing an article in Scientific American with the bold hypothesis: What if our universe was created in a laboratory?
Avi Loeb is definitely an extraordinary person. The head of the Institute of Theory and Computing of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, a member of the US Presidential Council on Science and Technology has more than once amazed both the scientific community and a wide circle of astronomy lovers with his extraordinary approach to the exploration of space and the place of man in it.
This time the astrophysicist proposed to consider the riddle of the creation of the world from a new point of view.
Even people far from science know that our universe was born during the Big Bang. But what came before that? What triggered this birth of everything out of nothing?
The scientific literature has previously voiced many different assumptions about the origin of the cosmos. So, the Universe could appear as a result of vacuum fluctuations or because of the collapse of matter inside a black hole.
Or maybe the expansion and contraction of the universe are cyclical. Then there is the anthropic principle, some very interesting conclusions from string theory and the multiverse hypothesis. But with the infinite variety of universes, everything is not so simple.
Loeb in his article discusses the least studied of the existing hypotheses for the origin of everything that we observe: our universe could have been created in the laboratory of a developed technological c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳.
“Since our universe has a flat geometry with zero net energy, an advanced c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳ could develop technology that would create a daughter universe out of nothing through quantum tunneling,” he writes.
This assumption certainly sounds exciting.
This hypothesis of the origin of the world combines religious ideas about the creator with secular ideas about quantum gravity.
Loeb suggests that some advanced c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳ could have created the technology for the “production” of daughter universes. In this case, we can assume that a sufficiently developed c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳ may appear in our Universe, capable of generating a new “flat” Universe.
Such a system resembles a biological one and, like a biological one, hypothetically allows different generations of highly developed c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳s̳ to “transfer genetic material” further in this endless cycle of creation.
From this point of view, the author of the article proposes to evaluate the technological level of c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳s̳ not by how much energy they use, as suggested in 1964 by Nikolai Kardashev.
Instead, Loeb suggests measuring the level of development of a c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳ by its ability to reproduce the astrophysical conditions that led to its existence. By the way, in 2018, Earth scientists actually reproduced the Big Bang in the ultracold matter.
On such an estimated cosmic scale, human c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳ belongs to class C, since we cannot yet recreate conditions suitable for life on our planet in the event of the de̳a̳t̳h̳ of our sun.
Perhaps our position in this ranking is even lower, as we are mindlessly destroying natural habitats on Earth, accelerating climate change. According to this principle, humanity can already be attributed to class D.
A class B c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳, in turn, can regulate the conditions in its habitat so as to be independent of its host star (in our case, the Sun). Class A c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳ is able to recreate the cosmic conditions that led to its existence, namely to create a daughter universe in the laboratory.
Therefore, Loeb concludes that it is important for humanity to allow itself the assumption that somewhere in the Universe there are c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳s̳ that are much more developed than ours.
At the same time, the scientist’s reasoning remains theoretical and poorly supported by any research. Which, however, has always distinguished futurists.
Today physicists are working hard to find dark energy and dark matter, build complex theoretical models, and deal with the mysteries of the structure of the smallest components of our world. They work tirelessly to get at least a grain of information about the great mystery of the creation of the Universe.
At the same time, the meager data that scientists receive in the course of painstaking long-term research, from year to year, attract less public attention than the loud statements of some scientists in the media.
However, it cannot be denied that such “dreamers” as Loeb make a great contribution to the development of scientific thought. After all, it also happens that one bold idea paves the way for great scientific and technological achievements.
Therefore, although Avi Loeb’s ideas do not belong to the field of pure science, they can serve as an inspiration for further scientific achievements.