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Will our descendants create a universe in a laboratory?
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A MASTER CHEF TO MAKE meringue. Simply combine egg whites and sugar in a large bowl and beat vigorously until the mixture is light and fluffy. Spread in a pan and put in an oven preheated to 300 degrees F. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes and voile! Could it be just as easy to make a universe?
Since the big bang theory implies that the entire observed universe can evolve from a tiny speck, it’s tempting to ask whether a universe can in principle be created in a laboratory. Given what we know of the laws of physics, would it be possible for an extraordinarily advanced civilization to create new universes at will?
Thefirst thing to think about is the list of necessary ingredients. Curiously, scientific theories continue to offer an enormous range of answers to the question of what the universe was made from. One of the most dramatic differences between the standard big bang theory (without inflation) and the inflationary universe theory is the answer that each gives to this fundamental question.
If the recipe for the standard big bang universe were written in a Cosmic Cookbook, how would it read? To begin the universe at an age of one second, the ingredient list would include 10[sup 89] photons, 10[sup 89] electrons, 10[sup 89] positrons, 10[sup 89] neutrinos, 10[sup 89] antineutrinos, 10[sup 79] protons, and 10[sup 79] neutrons. The ingredients should be stirred vigorously to produce a uniform batter, which should then be heated to a temperature of 10[sup 10] kelvins. After heating, the total mass/energy of the mix would be about 10[sup 65] grams, or 10[sup 32] solar masses. This number, by the way, is about 10 billion times larger than the total mass in the visible universe today. So, to produce a universe by the standard big-bang description, one must start with the energy of 10 billion universes! Since a chefsfirst task is to assemble the ingredients…

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