2014 Misel Family Lecture


“Universe or Multiverse"

Professor Andrei Linde

Stanford University

McNamara Alumni Center, Memorial Hall

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 7:00 p.m.

Abstract: Cosmological observations show that the universe is very uniform on the largest scales accessible to our telescopes, and the same laws of physics operate in all of its parts that we can see now. The best theoretical explanation of the uniformity of our world was provided by the theory of inflation, which was proposed about 30 years ago. Rather paradoxically, this theory also predicts that on a very large scale, much greater than what we can see now, the world may look totally different. Instead of being a single spherically symmetric balloon, our universe may look like a "multiverse", a collection of many different exponentially large balloons ("universes") with different laws of physics operating in each of them. In the beginning, this picture looked more like a piece of science fiction rather than a scientific theory. However, recent developments in inflationary cosmology, particle physics, and string theory provide strong evidence supporting the new cosmological paradigm. It changes our standard view of the origin and global structure of the universe and on our own place in the world.