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13th Century Multiverse Theory Unearthed

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the basically-the-same,-just-fewer-spaceships-and-more-spacehorses dept.

Science 59

ananyo writes: "Robert Grosseteste, an English scholar who lived from about 1175 to 1253, was the first thinker in northern Europe to try to develop unified physical laws to explain the origin and form of the geocentric medieval universe of heavens and Earth. Tom McLeish, professor of physics and pro-vice-chancellor for research at Britain's Durham University, and a multinational team of researchers found that Grosseteste's physical laws were so rigorously defined that they could be re-expressed using modern mathematical and computing techniques — as the medieval scholar might have done if he had been able to use such methods. The thinking went that the translated equations could then be solved and the solutions explored. The 'Ordered Universe Project' started six years ago and has now reported some of its findings. Only a small set of Grosseteste's parameters resulted in the "ordered" medieval universe he sought to explain, the researchers found; most resulted either in no spheres being created or a 'disordered' cosmos of numerous spheres. Grosseteste, then, had created a medieval 'multiverse.' De Luce suggests that the scholar realized his theories could result in universes with all manner of spheres, although he did not appear to realize the significance of this. A century later, philosophers Albert of Saxony and Nicole Oresme both considered the idea of multiple worlds and how they might exist simultaneously or in sequence."

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But this is impossible! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46883649)

As we all know, only TV shows can inspire people into STEM careers. What sorcery is this? People have different talents and interests and pursue them regardless? But but but but space exploration and inspiration???

Re:But this is impossible! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46883811)

Yeah right, "off topic". You sci-fi glorifying geeks can't really explain how people got into science before TV shows? Your simple and naive worldview is untenable.

Re:But this is impossible! (1)

blue trane (110704) | about 3 months ago | (#46884769)

Arthur C. Clarke?

Re:But this is impossible! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46885437)

Hi space nutter guy! I'm your biggest fan! I bet that if you keep practicing, you might even dethrone APK as the most annoying crazy guy on Slashdot!

Re:But this is impossible! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46885673)

You're never getting "off this rock". We're all going to stay right here where it's warm and good. No one's going to live on Mars, mine the Moon or bring back asteroids. One day you'll realize I was right all along.

Re:But this is impossible! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46896135)

or at the very least that you are an anonymous coward

What this means? (4, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 4 months ago | (#46883683)

A: A 14th Century Mystico-Philospher and early Natural Scientist was so insightful that he developed models with an uncanny anticipation of modern, post-special relativity Astrophysics.

B: The limits of modern models and measurements for the physical universe were exhausted - reaching a limit with Einstein and Heisenberg, etc., so that any further extrapolations require fantastical imaginations, worthy of 14th century Alchemysts.

C: Bad cheese.

Re:What this means? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 4 months ago | (#46883739)

D: 14th century dude develops a descriptive model that modern researchers converted into equations that have more than one solution.

Ooooh, profound!

Re:What this means? (1)

mod prime (3597787) | about 4 months ago | (#46883777)

Who is this 14th Century guy you're talking about?

Re:What this means? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 3 months ago | (#46883859)

Ha, just used the same number as the OP. 13th century. There was probably a 14th century one too. And the famous alchemist who "predicted" a multiverse in the seventeenth century, of course. I believe his name was Newton.

Re:What this means? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46884629)

E: Increasing evidence points to the existence of pre-Internet thought. Al Gore hardest hit.

Re:What this means? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46884007)

Cheese please! I'll have the cheese.

Re:What this means? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46884567)

Ooops. I assumed his name meant that he had flagrantly large testicles.

Re:What this means? (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 3 months ago | (#46884815)


Re:What this means? (1)

flyneye (84093) | about 3 months ago | (#46885157)

Lost in my consideration of Fromunda cheese,(the baddest cheese) my mind wandered to Mandelbrots functions to find the mathematics representing iterations of is,probably, and possibly; relative to a meta-view of any multiple realities finite thought might presume. There I found the usual assortment of grandfathered theories; existential to their reckoning, alongside those not heard and those to come. Mandelbrots math anticipates further iterations that you could fill in the blank for, with anything, if you really feel you must reverse engineer to proofs. But why bother? If you can extrapolate the math, you can spider the network for all theories and find their place in an artificial multiverse that exists and does not exist dependent on how dark the cheese smells. Probably wind up as a GNU program to graphically dive into iterations of existence on upcoming iterations of Android.

Re:What this means? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 3 months ago | (#46885385)

That's what cheese said!

Re:What this means? (1)

ewieling (90662) | about 3 months ago | (#46885457)

Not bad cheese, bad (rye) bread.

Re:What this means? (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 4 months ago | (#46886227)

"Cogito, ergot sum."

Re:What this means? (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 4 months ago | (#46885981)

F: A wacko long ago came up with an unprovable theory that something might exist outside our universe, and that other people might have had the same untestable, unprovable idea later.

Re:What this means? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46887679)

Looks like the typical approach mathematicians take when they dabble in theoretical physics.

"The numbers doesn't add up with the model we use, add variables until it cannot be formally proven that the numbers doesn't add up."

Also known as string theory - The thing that happens when you try to brute force new models.

Grosseteste (3, Funny)

Megahard (1053072) | about 4 months ago | (#46883687)

He must have had big balls to propose his theories.

Re:Grosseteste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46883747)

Not necessarily, he could always add a "And God still created everything, btw" clause at the end and it's a lot less heretical.

Re:Grosseteste (3, Interesting)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 4 months ago | (#46883751)

It actually refers to his head. Like the one on his shoulders, not the the other kind... French likes to have the letter "s" silent and modifying how other letters are pronounced, mostly the "e". In modern French, the word for head is tête. Most words with ê now used to have es in them. Fête = feste = festival. Arrêt = Arrest, etc.

Re:Grosseteste (2)

sribe (304414) | about 4 months ago | (#46883803)

Most words with ê now used to have es in them. Fête = feste = festival. Arrêt = Arrest, etc.

Fenestre etc. Most such words came from Latin, FYI.

Re:Grosseteste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46884229)

It's French, FFS. Most such words came from Latin because most French words came from Latin.

Re:Grosseteste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46884897)

So this poor guy's name was Bob Fathead?

Re:Grosseteste (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | about 4 months ago | (#46886795)

Lets call him Bob Bigballs instead. Much more reverent.

Re:Grosseteste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46890347)

Not only E.

hôpital = hospital, île = isle, château = castle (same root), etc.

Re: Grosseteste (1)

nuckfuts (690967) | about 3 months ago | (#46884051)

Funniest comment I've read in a while :)

Re:Grosseteste (1)

hilmera (1626321) | about 3 months ago | (#46884437)


Re:Grosseteste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46886055)

You probably didn't notice but the guy was a bishop. The Church used to do most of the research back then. Kinda obvious when you think about it, as most people outside the clergy couldn't read.

Re:Grosseteste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46893267)

He preferred to call them "spheres".

Multidot (-1, Troll)

buswolley (591500) | about 4 months ago | (#46883763)

I live in a multiverse too. for the news and insightful commentary for the trolls

Re:Multidot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46883913)

Soylentnews for the dweebs. Nobody is there. NOBODY.

Re:Multidot (1)

buswolley (591500) | about 3 months ago | (#46883949)

Well not right after I posted. Did you kill their server?

Last month called (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46883901)

It wants its Slashdot summary [] back.

"Sure, I'll try some..." (3, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | about 3 months ago | (#46884025)

If you taste enough alchemy experiments, you'll imagine all kinds of whacky stuff.

Message for myself (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 3 months ago | (#46884097)

Dear ArcadeMan from Universe CK-34B,

please send 5000 Bitcoins to the following address: 1LHuLKyHDndUdjgKUsmfAG8tDnXZ5fTuUA

Re: Message for myself (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46887041)

In Universe CK-34B, that happened to be my wallet! So long, suckers!

Re: Message for myself (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46888575)

Except that in Universe CK-34B, Bitcoin never really took off. Enjoy your $2.34.

really, the first? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46884247)

So tiresome hearing seemingly intelligent people assert that some particular individual was the first ever to do or think some particular thing. Rarely is it actually true. Other times, you say, "Really, was that guy in the 13th century really the first person ever on that continent, in the eons of human history, to describe or postulate the existence of more than one universe using math?" How does one have the arrogance to say such things? Can't douches just qualify such trivia with "...the earliest evidence or documented instance of..."? I have no evidence contrary to the summary, but don't need it to point out the arrogance of asserting "that guy was the first".

Re:really, the first? (2)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 3 months ago | (#46884661)

Hindu handles this multiverse-thingie with nothing more than poetry. first?

Not the first (2)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 4 months ago | (#46885993)

I grew up in a cult of wacko child molesters who tried to teach us about some place outside of this universe where winged creatures lived and where you supposedly were transported to when you died, unless you went to the other dimension where there was a big fire. All sounds so foolish now.

Here there be dragons (1)

X-Ray Artist (1784416) | about 3 months ago | (#46884351)

Here there be dragons. Lots of them.

bah (1)

Mr_Nitro (1174707) | about 3 months ago | (#46884657)

it is a relatively weak news but nonetheless it's sad to see how people cannot accept the fact that a lot if not all the greatest scientists, inventors and innovators had a rather mystical and deeply philosophical side in their lives... that side to side to rigorous mathematical papers there were much more 'unscientific' studies... it's the human attraction for what is hidden and mysterious that always lives in the minds of explorers and scientists are first and foremost explorers.... we are creating a simplistic view of science through washed out propaganda and childish mottos.... sometimes so-called geeks should read more carefully the biographies of the giants on whom shoulders they stand...

Re:bah (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 3 months ago | (#46884941)


Carl Sagan once said: "Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality."

Newton wrote more about Alchemy then anything else; yet he is given a free pass because, gosh, darn, all his "lesser" works were much more useful. We'll just pretend all his other work didn't exist because "We 'know' better in these 'modern' times".

The hypocrisy, and arrogance of Scientists is nothing new. Feynman summarized the problem as "Cargo Cult Science". Locked into orthodox perspective completely unable to entertain the notion that maybe there is more to the picture then we think. The Church of Science has led us to the idiotic Materialism / Reductionism, because, god forbid, there actually* be a meta-physical component to reality.

At least this myopic perspective will finally end by 2024.

*Technically, Time, Numbers, and Concepts are all meta-physical but no one bitches about "those".

Re:bah (1)

butalearner (1235200) | about 4 months ago | (#46888785)

In case you and GP haven't thought it through to conclusion, the fact that Science does not include religious-type beliefs is a good thing. Popular understanding of science is already horrible enough in the US due to politics, we don't need schools refusing to teach algebra just because it was first described by a Muslim. Newton is not "given a free pass." To discredit his work in physics and calculus because of his "work" in alchemy would be logical fallacy (probably the most common one: ad hominem). Similarly, we don't throw out Einstein's contributions just because he didn't like what quantum theory implied about the universe.

By the way, Newton saw proof of alchemy in phenomena like Diana's Tree [] . Without the understanding provided by modern chemistry, seeing it as evidence of life in metals would have seemed pretty plausible back then, I imagine.

Re:bah (1)

butalearner (1235200) | about 4 months ago | (#46888967)

it's the human attraction for what is hidden and mysterious that always lives in the minds of explorers and scientists are first and foremost explorers

The above observation is right, but your implied conclusion is wrong. Science always grows to infringe upon what was previously thought to be the domain of some supernatural entity. Explorers are named such because they don't see the unknown and simply accept that it will remain that way. Scientific progress happens precisely because scientists don't reach a point and say, "well, I can't go any further, because obviously [supernatural entity] did it."

Sad (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#46885869)

I read about this last week... Yes, if you take any significantly crazy dude from 1000 years ago and examine his theories in a modern light, his theories will likely end up baring an uncanny resemblance to the truth.

Re:Sad (1)

LongearedBat (1665481) | about 4 months ago | (#46886393)

Does that mean that if you take any significantly crazy dude today and examine their theories in 1000 years time, his theories will likely end up baring an uncanny resemblance to the truth?

I don't think so.

Re:Sad (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#46889195)

If you get a research grant and put a team of scientists together to pick through any data set, I'm pretty sure they could find data supporting just about any theory past or present. So yes.

Burn! (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 4 months ago | (#46886015)

It is weird the church failed to burn him as heretic. I guess they missed his work?

Re:Burn! (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 4 months ago | (#46886169)

Heretic? When they also want to preach about unprovable and untestable extra dimensions or multiverses? In their dimensions there are winged people and some people are transported there when they die. In a different dimension there is a big fire. More likely they would have burned him for plagiary.

If Angels and Demons have no Free Will... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46886267)

Can you imagine the potential resources and livestock to be found in hell or heaven? It's no wonder the church can't stop trying to get us all out there!

Re:If Angels and Demons have no Free Will... (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 4 months ago | (#46886919)

I'm not sure where you get the idea that angels and demons have no free will. Back in the child molesting cult that I grew up in, I was taught that they have free will. Specifically (and I have no idea where the cult got this information, since the bible starts at the creation of earth and man and it doesn't seem to cover the creation of angels, but I was taught that religion had no place for logically questioning what you were taught) the cult told me that a bunch of angels were created and they wondered where they came from. Someone said "I created you, worship me". The angels looked and said "hey, you look just like us, what do you mean that you created us?" but the guy who wanted worshiped said " err..... yea, I look like you because, .... because, ..... because I created you in my image! Yea, that's it, I created you in my image" They thought it over. Some figured out this was just silly but other angels bought it, or at least decided not to rock the boat and just in case it was the truth they would play along. There was a big fight between the angels and the group that didn't but the story lost and were cast out. They became the demons. That pretty much tells me that they had free will. Or that the story is all bullshit.

Re:Burn! (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 4 months ago | (#46887181)

Heretic? When they also want to preach about unprovable and untestable extra dimensions or multiverses?

Well, the church enforced some kind of monopoly on any abstract knowledge at that time. Remember University was only about Theology at that time.

Better comments... (1)

ananyo (2519492) | about 4 months ago | (#46887499)

Over at 'the other place' the guy who did some of the computer modelling for the project has chipped in with some insights that are a bit more interesting than those (dare I say it) here (there, I did). []
eg Here's a thread from there:

T-A 18 hours ago | link

So the Economist's point is that a "research" project exploring an idea about the universe which has been known to be incorrect for centuries somehow proves the value of the humanities? Really?

14113 15 hours ago | link

Yes. It provides a lot of information about the history of science. Most importantly, Grosseteste was one of the first to use what we now think of as the scientific method, and (I believe) the first to suggest a 'big bang like' start to the universe.

He's essential in the history of science for introducing aristotalean traditions and ideas, to the scientific discourse at the time, as well as being one of the early founders of science. For that reason at least he's well worth studying, and especially his ideas, which are very close to what we have now. What the science researchers are doing is helping the historians formalise his ideas in todays language and notations so that their similarities can be seen with todays ideas.

Source: I worked on this project over last summer as a computer science student visualising his explanation for the start of the universe.

Late to the game (2)

Rambo Tribble (1273454) | about 4 months ago | (#46888881)

If Joseph Campbell is to be trusted, the Upanishads describe a multiverse many centuries before this upstart whelp.

Quantum Existing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46899809)

Neil DeGrasse was talking about quantum states and only being able to observe velocity or distance with accuracy (one or the other, never both) and basically that if there's an observer, it will only do a single thing. (also, consider trying to compute two things at the same time in general. one answer will always come before another, even if it has to be proven on a nano nano nanoscale, ala photofinish)

There are multiple quantum states that exist at the same time but you can only measure a single one of them.
Our existence is a single quantum state - there are others, but this is the only one that we can possibly observe, and therefore the only one that currently exists until our technology and theory matures.

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