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I MUST every possible thing happen in a Tegmark L1 Multiverse?

  1. Dec 4, 2017 #1


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    I've been looking at one of Max Tegmark's articles about his 'Mathematical Universe' hypothesis, here on arXiv.

    As a preliminary, note that Tegmark's framework has four 'levels' of multiverses, with each level being an infinite collection of multiverses at the level below it. The second or third level is to do with quantum superpositions and has strong similarities to Everett's Many-Worlds framework. A Level 1 'multiverse' is just a single spacetime, but Tegmark assumes each Level 1 spacetime is spatially infinite.

    One of the attention-grabbing aspects of Tegmark's hypothesis is that it says that everything that can happen, does happen.

    That is not surprising when we are talking about quantum superpositions, as Everett says more or less the same thing.

    What is surprising is that Tegmark claims this to be the case for every single Level 1 spacetime as well. The claim relies on an assumption that a single Level 2 multiverse, which is an infinite collection of Level 1 spacetimes, considered as a probability space, is ergodic, and that each Level 1 spacetime is spatially infinite. He writes:

    That last paragraph ('In other words....') does not seem to me to follow from what goes before it. Ergodicity is about expected values, and ergodic properties such as the one I linked above are carefully constrained with uses of the technical terms 'almost surely' or 'almost everywhere'. In an ergodic ensemble of infinite spacetimes, for a given spacetime S, the probability is 1 that an event E that occurs anywhere in the ensemble will occur somewhere in S. But that means that E occurs almost surely somewhere in S, which is not the same as saying that it does in fact occur in S.

    I am trying to work out why Tegmark might have written this. Possibilities that occur to me are:

    1. Tegmark is trained as a physicist, not a mathematician, and has never studied formal probability theory, and does not understand that, in an infinite sample space, probability one does not imply certainty.
    2. Tegmark has learned that, but has forgotten it.
    3. Tegmark knows the distinction, but in the course of simplifying his conclusion in order to reach a wider audience, 'simplified' it to the point of making it misleading (which reminds me of Einstein's dictum: 'we should simplify as much as possible, but not more than that').
    4. There is some other reason, beyond mere ergodicity, why every possible thing must happen somewhere in an infinite Level 1 spacetime; or
    5. I have misunderstood ergodicity.
    I would greatly appreciate people's thoughts on this.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 4, 2017 #2
    "Everything" happens for a reason... not anything, not just some things, "everything" happens. Ergodic is a new term to me but my initial assessment is something along the lines of "going full circle" of all possibilities. In infinite spaces of finite possibilities it seems to me common sense that things would have to repeat...
  4. Dec 5, 2017 #3


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    This is a bit off the cuff, but from what I recall the way it works is that the system isn't actually random. The fundamental laws are fully-deterministic (so far as we know). You get probability out by making some simplifying assumptions upon how the underlying physics works. So what is meant by "P > 0 that system is in state S at time T" is another way of saying that the system spends a finite amount of time in this state.

    In order to have a system where every state occurs at some point, you have to have underlying dynamics that, given an infinite amount of time, fill the entire allowable phase space of the system in question. I can't be confident that this condition is satisfied in every conceivable mathematical structure that might describe the fundamental mathematical laws of a universe.
  5. Dec 8, 2017 #4


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    Ir seems fairly obvious our universe is not of infinite age. Which raises a question that is difficult to ignore - why do we reside in a universe that is of a measurably finite age? It seems very odd we would happen to arrive on the scene at a measurable age in a temporally unbound universe. Further compounding matters, it appears our universe, has been in an orderly state as far back as we can determine. Random chance does not offer an entirely satisfactory explanation. for these coincidences.
  6. Dec 8, 2017 #5


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    That we observe our universe in a state where there is a measurably-finite age doesn't seem odd at all to me, given the dynamics we observe. By the time the age of our universe is no longer observable, there will also be no more observers.

    The interesting question here is what caused our universe to start in an extremely low-entropy state early-on. This question for sure cannot be answered by the simplistic concept of random thermal fluctuations, with very rare ones producing universes (because it leads to the Boltzmann Brain problem). There have been many attempts to put forth a model which actually does make sense, but so far we just don't know.
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