The Theoretical Physicist Wore a Toga

Studio 360

It's a basic human impulse to ask ourselves "what if?" What if I had made other decisions? Would things have turned out better, worse, or just different? Questions like that make the idea of multiple universes enticing --- somewhere out there, they suggest, the road not taken actually was taken.

These days, scientists are increasingly interested in thinking about multiple universes. There are lots of theories in play, with names like "the quilted multiverse" and "the inflationary universe" and "the ultimate multiverse." It all feels exciting and new. But it's not as new as you might think.

Professor and Chair of Religion at Wesleyan University, Mary-Jane Rubenstein

"The idea of multiple universes is about 2,500 years old," says Mary-Jane Rubenstein, a professor of religion and philosophy at Wesleyan University. She says that long before nerds withpocket protectors were debating this stuff, nerds in togas were --- the Atomist philosophers, of ancient Greece.

(Originally aired December 10, 2015)

Will you help our nonprofit newsroom today?

Every week, more than 2 million listeners tune into our broadcast and follow our digital coverage like this story, which is available to read for free thanks to charitable contributions from listeners like you. But less than 1% of our audience supports our program directly. From now through the end of the year, every gift will be matched dollar for dollar by a generous donor, which means your gift will help us unlock a $67,000 challenge match.

Will you join our growing list of loyal supporters and double your impact today?