‘Universes’ Isn’t a Word

I don’t know.  I like watching The Universe series on The History Channel (once I get past the stupid graphics and the talking-down-to they give us) but this guy, a frequent contributor to The Universe, seems a little too full of himself for someone who apparently doesn’t understand the words he’s using.

Just as there are many solar systems in our galaxy, and many other galaxies in the universe, there may be, we find, other somethings (he uses “soap bubbles”) in the universe.  “Universe” has it right there in the word– Uni.  There can be only one.  What all it may include is a subject for further study and discovery, but there is only one.  Please.

Maybe this bugs me more than it should, but I don’t think so.  When it comes to cross-culture or cross-generational communication it is critically important.  Simple things like the meaning of “the People” and of “…shall not be infringed” have been under assault for example.  If we’re not constantly on our guard we lose our history.  When we lose our history we lose our culture and our freedom.

For the Sesame Street audience, “soap bubble” works OK, but surely there’s a better choice.  I’ll take it over “multiple universes” any day though, as the latter is a direct contradiction of terms, hanging right out there in your face.

Encarta offers this definition of the universe; “the totality of all matter and energy that exists in the vastness of space, whether known to human beings or not.”  Well there you have it, see?  You might want to alert the theoretical physicists and the astronomers you know.  That last clause is even better than I’d hoped.  I’d figured on something more like “everything that exists everywhere, period. No, really– everything. Seriously. Dude” but that definition has a bit of a problem built into it.  Ten points if you can describe it.

9 thoughts on “‘Universes’ Isn’t a Word

  1. He’s Michio Kaku.

    The problem here is the definition of a multi-verse:

    The multiverse (or meta-universe, metaverse) is the hypothetical set of multiple possible universes (including the historical universe we consistently experience) that together comprise everything that exists and can exist: the entirety of space, time, matter, and energy as well as the physical laws and constants that describe them. The term was coined in 1895 by the American philosopher and psychologist William James.[1] The various universes within the multiverse are sometimes called parallel universes.

    Multiple possible universes. Parallel universes. Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist, so for him, multiple universes is one of the key things they are studying. I agree that the universe involves the entirety of space — but this is starting to talk about multiple iterations of space. If we go with your determination of the definition of universe, then it is likely that what you are defining has never existed. It’s like complaining about misusing geocentric words when describing a heliocentric system.

    And soap bubble isn’t Sesame Street era. That was Einstein’s metaphor.

  2. I’ll say it again; “the universe” includes everything.
    “…it is likely that what you are defining has never existed.” So it is likely that everything does not exist?

    Sorry; Kaku thinks his version represents more advanced thinking, while I think that my thinking is more advanced than his in that when I say “everything” I actually mean it– that you can’t have “this absolutely everything over here, and that other absolutely everything over there”. My definition of everything is all-inclusive. It’s more awesome, Dude.

  3. Why a “soap” bubble, particularly? Where’s the soap? A soap bubble has a definite border, or surface, containing gas inside it, and due to even tension it is spherical. Is that really a great model? How about “Bang System” or simply a “Bang”? Or what the hell, why not “Big Bang”? We live in this big bang here, and there are other big bangs.

  4. I think there’s just an argument over naming conventions here.

    My impression is that Kaku would define “a universe” as the entirety of everything in a 4-dimensional space-time. So our big bang, universe, everything we can experience know about, etc, exists within the 3 spacial dimensions and time.

    But if more spacial or time dimensions exist then there could be other “Universes” or other extensions in space-time at right angles to our own in one or more of those additional dimensions.

    Maybe we’ll need a better word for it, though, because it could also be argued that Universe would necessarily contain this additional space-time things along with our space-time thing.

    Bubbles comes from an analogy in 3 dimensions of what our time-space thingy does in 4. Over time the spacial dimensions we experience actually expand. It’s like we’re living on the surface of an expanding bubble, but in 3 spacial dimensions instead of 2 as a bubble would have.

  5. “everything that exists everywhere, period. No, really– everything. Seriously. Dude”

    It also includes everywhere, not just everything. It includes space, not just what’s in space. So, how about “everywhere and everything, period.”

  6. I was thinking the time dimension also is missing: it also includes “everywhen”–i.e. everything that has ever happened & everything that will ever happen.

  7. There can be only one. And thus was begun the battle of the universes, each fighting to become the final, supreme champion. (Cue theme song from Higlander, Queen’s Princes of the Universe).

  8. Hasn’t anybody read “Anathem”? Some very erudite Fraa or Suur in that book pointed out that though there may be many cosmi, there is by definition only one universe.

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