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Having just orbited our way through another summer solstice, it feels like time to let slip some more speculative ideas before the hot days of the northern hemisphere shorten too much again and rational thinking returns.

So, grasping a fruity alcoholic beverage in one hand, consider the following thought experiment.

The so-called ‘Fermi Paradox’ has become familiar fodder for speculations on the nature of life in the universe, so I’m not going to repeat it in any great detail here. Instead, take a look at this nice description by Adam Frank, and remember that the basic premise is: if life in the universe is not incredibly rare, it should have already shown up on our proverbial doorstep. The fact that is hasn’t is therefore interesting.

But the universe is such a paltry thing. Hordes of physicists are telling us that our reality, our cosmos, may not be the only one – rather that we exist inside a multiverse.

This could be structured in a variety of forms: from pocket universes produced by cosmic inflation, to quantum mechanical diversions and ‘many-worlds’, to ‘branes’ in higher dimensional M-theory, and so on. Furthermore, all of these variants may not really be variants at all, they could all be mushed together into one stupendous array of realities. So many realities, in fact, that anything that can happen will (and must) happen, and will happen an enormous (dare I say, infinite) number of times.

Other hordes of physicists (well, perhaps not hordes, but a significant and sober segment of the physicist species) roll their eyes and point out the whiff of ludicrousness in some of this talk. After all, they say, theories that can explain absolutely anything you throw at them by just saying ‘anything is possible,’ are not exactly theories according to the true scientific method, because they can’t be rationally falsified. Touché.

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