The more we learn about the universe, the more we discover just how diverse all its planets, stars, nebulae and unexplained chunks of matter really are. So what is all this matter doing in our universe, other than just floating in space?
By George Dvorsky – io9
Well, it just so happens that there is a theory that gives a kind of raison d’etre to our universe and all the objects flying through it. If true, it would mean that our universe is nothing more than a black hole generator, or a means to produce as many baby universes as possible. To learn more, we spoke to the man who came up with the idea.
It’s called the theory of Cosmological Natural Selection and it was conjured by Lee Smolin, a researcher at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and and an adjunct professor of physics at the University of Waterloo.
In his book, The Life of the Cosmos, Smolin proposed that Darwinian processes still apply at the extreme macro-scale and to non-biological entities. Because the universe is a potentially replicative unit, he suggests that it’s subject to selectional pressures. Consequently, nearly everything the universe does is geared toward replication.
„It’s a scenario that explains how the laws of nature are chosen,“ Smolin told io9, „and if true, these parameters are geared to maximize the number of black holes made in the universe.“
Of cosmological singularities and baby universes
Indeed, black holes — and the cosmological singularities they produce — are central to Smolin’s theory. These are regions of space-time where the quantities used to measure gravitational fields or temperature become infinite. It’s also where general relativity stops being useful, making any kind of prediction impossible. Classical general relativity says that a singularity exists inside each black hole. But both string theory and loop quantum gravity suggest that black hole singularities can be eliminated — and when this happens, it may be possible to describe the future evolution of the space-time region within it.
„Everything that falls into a black hole doesn’t just hit the cosmological singularity and just stop evolving so that time simply comes to an end,“ he says, „Time continues and everything that fell into the black hole would have a future where the singularity was, and that region is what we call a baby universe.“
Moreover, Smolin says these baby universes are immune to whatever happens in the parent universe, including eternal inflation and its ultimate heat death.