Our Universe Could Be An Expanding Bubble in an Extra Dimension

Like a bit of froth on the crest of an ocean wave, our observable universe may be nothing more than a sliver sitting within the edge of a bubble that’s constantly expanding into a higher dimension.

While this mind-boggling idea might sound like something out of a physicist’s fever dream, it is in fact a new endeavor to reconcile the mathematics of string theory with the reality of dark energy, a mysterious, all-pervading cosmic force that acts in opposition to gravity.

String theory is an attempt to unite the two pillars of 20th century physics — quantum mechanics and gravity — by positing that all particles are one-dimensional strings whose vibrations determine properties such as mass and charge. The theory has been described as mathematically beautiful, and for a long time has been one of the leading contenders for what scientists call a Theory of Everything, meaning a framework to explain all physics, popularized in books like Brian Greene’s The Elegant Universe (Norton, 1999). [Big Bang to Civilization: 10 Amazing Origin Events]

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