The BBC is running a story entitled Hints of ‘time before Big Bang’ based on Sean Carroll’s latest efforts to promote the multiverse. The writer attended Sean’s talk at the recent AAS meeting and presumably also read Sean’s new Scientific American article, and here’s what he got out of them:
A team of physicists has claimed that our view of the early Universe may contain the signature of a time before the Big Bang…
Their model may help explain why we experience time moving in a straight line from yesterday into tomorrow…
Their model suggests that new universes could be created spontaneously from apparently empty space. From inside the parent universe, the event would be surprisingly unspectacular.
Describing the team’s work at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in St Louis, Missouri, co-author Professor Sean Carroll explained that “a universe could form inside this room and we’d never know”.
The inspiration for their theory isn’t just an explanation for the Big Bang our Universe experienced 13.7 billion years ago, but lies in an attempt to explain one of the largest mysteries in physics – why time seems to move in one direction…
“Every time you break an egg or spill a glass of water you’re learning about the Big Bang,” Professor Carroll explained…
If the Caltech team’s work is correct, we may already have the first information about what came before our own Universe.
Besides the “Does Time Run Backwards in Other Universes?” material from his paper with Jennifer Chen discussed in Scientific American, what’s new here is his recent paper with two Caltech collaborators about the possibility of explaining an asymmetry of marginal statistical significance observed in the CMB by invoking a more complicated version of inflation, adding a “curvaton” field to the usual inflaton. In their model, this asymmetry comes from a perturbation to the curvaton field of size larger than the horizon. Such a thing could in principle make testable predictions, but doesn’t necessarily come from the existence of a multiverse or tell us anything about it. The authors throw in one clause of a sentence about how it might occur as
a remnant of the pre-inflationary epoch or as a signature of superhorizon curvaton-web structures.
and that’s the basis of the BBC article. I have no idea what’s going on with the business about universes forming inside of rooms and us not knowing anything about this.
Sean gives more details about this in a new blog posting.
Update: The author of the piece, Chris Lintott, has a blog, and a posting about the article, where he writes:
What made me want to write the story in the first place, though, was exactly what Sean said above – to an outsider to the field the idea that it is even imaginable that we might be able to make concrete predictions from ideas about multiverses which have haunted the pages of New Scientist and its ilk for decades is stunning. That’s what I wanted to get across.
He doesn’t seem to realize that there’s nothing here different than the things he’s thinking of that “have haunted the pages of New Scientist and its ilk for decades.”
Update: This story is getting the full media treatment, including haunting the pages of New Scientist, which has the sense to strip out the nonsense and hype about the multiverse and the arrow of time. Slashdot emphasizes the part about:
Describing the team’s work at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in St Louis, Missouri, co-author Professor Sean Carroll explained that ‘a universe could form inside this room and we’d never know.'”
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