There may have been multiple Big Bangs - leading astronomer
There may have been more than one Big Bang, and the world could be on the brink of a revolution as profound as Copernicus discovering the Earth revolved around the Sun, according to Britain's astronomer royal.
Martin Rees said that other universes may exist which are unconstrained from the laws of Newtonian physics, with different atoms and gravity fields. But other universes more like our own could also exist, raising the prospect that humanity, or something like it, could have evolved elsewhere.
"Many people suspect that our Big Bang was not the only one, but there's a whole ensemble of Big Bangs, a whole archipelago of Big Bangs," he told The Hay Literary Festival in Wales.
"This raises another question. Even though the laws of physics are the same everywhere we can see in our observable region, if physical reality is far more extensive, then maybe there are domains where the laws are different.
"There are some theories which suggest that in the aftermath of other Big Bangs the universe may cool down differently governed by different laws.
"This has some interesting implications. It could be that the different Big Bangs cool down with different gravity, different atoms, etc, and then what we call the laws of physics will, in this grander perspective, be just parochial bylaws in our cosmic patch, governed maybe by some deeper set of laws, but just environmental accidents.
"Maybe we are due for a further Copernican revolution and say there are many Big Bangs... This is a speculation but it is a very exciting one."
The Big Bang, a huge explosion which created matter and time, is thought to have occurred 14 billion years ago. Some scientists believe that it is just the latest in a line of Big Bangs and that the universe is far older, maybe as old as 986 billion years.
"However, the multiple Big Bang theory suggests they could have happened simultaneous in different places, as part of a wide 'multiverse.'
The multiverse theory suggests an entire ensemble of innumerable regions of disconnected space-time.