The fact that no one knows the answer to this question is what makes it exciting. The story of physics has been one of an ever-expanding understanding of the sheer scale of reality, to the point where physicists are now postulating that there may be far more universes than just our own. Chris Anderson explores the thrilling implications of this idea.
It’s hard for some people to engage with physics because they can’t wrap their heads around the vastness and scale of one universe—not to mention multiple ones. Chris Anderson uses grains of sand on a beach as a way to help people get a sense of the number of stars in a galaxy. Chris Jordan is a photographer who uses his artwork to represent huge numbers of items here on Earth; watch his TED talk, “Chris Jordan pictures some shocking stats,” at http://www.ted.com/talks/chris_jordan_pictures_some_shocking_stats.html.
Create a visual display that gives some sense of the scale of our universe (the size of the earth compared to the sun; the sun as one among many stars in our galaxy; the number of galaxies in our universe; the number of universes that may be out there). Share your display with your community during Global Astronomy Month (April) or in connection with some other event at a local museum or planetarium.
Science fiction writers have been interested in the idea of parallel universes for quite some time. Learn about these fictional representations of parallel universes (the Wikipedia entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallel_universe_%28fiction%29 is a good place to start). Organize a Parallel Universe Festival and incorporate literature, movies, TV shows and computer games. How do their portrayals of parallel universes compare—what similarities and differences exist? What’s intriguing or disturbing about the idea of parallel universes out there?