We shouldn't be afraid to ask big questions and work on answers. So what's beyond our universe?
Parallelwelten are scary, for a variety of reasons. They come with big questions, and for some of them there might be no answers. But should we stop exploring these parallel worlds and asking those big questions, out of fear that we might get no answers, or maybe answers that wouldn't please us?
Angela Merkel is said to have chosen physics as the subject of her studies in East Germany because the laws of physics apply across political systems, regardless of ideology. This attitude also coloured her style of leadership and led her to some unexpected changes of political course.
The idea of a multiverse may sound like science fiction, but really is more science than fiction. It is a possible solution to some of the greatest questions physics has to deal with. For example, what's beyond the universe? The Standard Model of particle physics doesn't answer all questions, at least not yet.
We are all in the same universe
And maybe those question will never be answered. In fact, it may well be the case that with each answer new — and possibly bigger — questions arise. Scientific progress would then generate more, and hopefully better, questions than it answers. This is exciting and terrifying at the same time. But there is one thing to keep in mind, as James Beacham reminds us:
We are the method the universe asks questions about itself.
This puts humankind as a whole — and every single person — in a special position. In the words of James Beacham:
We are all in the same universe. And we are all in this universe together.
Which means that, while we fearlessly ask the big questions, we also need to care for our common home. Housekeeping is often underrated and ridiculed, but there is a certain art to it. It is no easy task to keep a house and a household in order.
Digital technology has redefined our common home
The point is that everyone in the house can live well, that everything is there that they need to live. Shopping, cooking, washing, cleaning, tidying up, taking out the garbage, repairing broken things, looking after the garden, keeping things tidy – there is a lot to do in a house.
A house has a certain order, it has its own beauty, it gives warmth in winter and perhaps also coolness in summer. Residents and guests should feel at home in the house. If we view the Earth as our common home in the universe, these things are getting more complex on a global scale. But the basics remain the same.
Over the last few decades, digital technology has redefined and reshaped our common home, creating a multiverse of different realities. This has lead to a whole slew of new questions. For example, the new tribalism, fueled and amplified by digital media, has driven the UK into a chronic crisis.
The digital industry doesn't need to be shy when it comes to the big questions. Quite the contrary, since we are a big part of the problem, we need to become part of the solution as well. That's still a long way to go. But at least, there are already some sights of hope.
- James Beacham will give the opening keynote of NEXT19 on September 19.
- Later that day, there's a chance to ask him anything about the universe.