The seemingly limitless possibilities promised by the idea of a multiverse are so captivating to the imagination that I doubt the idea will go away any time soon. Â It’s only grown in popularity in spite of constant criticism that it is completely theoretical and untestable. Â Most definitions of the multiverse would seem to explicitly rule out any human being ever interacting with another universe besides our own. Â But now some scientists have proposed an observational test based on our universe interacting with other universes.
As Tom Ingebritsen’s series looks to the past and the origin of life on Earth, I’ve been thinking about an origin of life that may be coming in the future. The quest to create a completely artificial life form is a very active field of biological research. The creation of artificial membranes inside membranes, mimicking the topology of eukaryotic organisms, is just one of the recent milestones scientists have achieved. I won’t pretend to know when or if this program will be completely successful, but the progress so far and the amount of effort invested makes me inclined to think it will be, and sooner than later.
A natural first question might be — why? Of course, there’s the universal scientific answer — to see if we can, and to learn something whether we succeed or not. I don’t think that’s a trivial reason, and plenty of important and useful discoveries have come from similarly motivated endeavors. Some of the big questions of science and philosophy, such as “What makes something ‘alive’?” or “What are the minimal conditions for life?”, don’t have definitive, universally accepted answers. Trying to build artificial organisms might help narrow down the answers, or at least illuminate what we mean by the questions. [Read more…] about Science in Review â€” January 2014