Just outside Sanquhar, what was formerly an open cast coal mine has been transformed into a spectacular visitor attraction. The work of landscape artist Charles Jencks has produced a scientific “artland” covering 55 acres, called the Crawick Multiverse.
On the afternoon of Saturday 24th June we visited this “multiverse” as part a weekend of scientific public lectures, entitled “Cosmic Collisions”. On the Friday evening Professor Carlos Frenk from Durham University traced the development of galaxies from quantum fluctuations only a tiny fraction of a second after the Big Bang, emphasising the role of cold dark matter.
The next day, Professor Martin Hendry (Glasgow University) described the detection of gravitational radiation from the collision of two black holes, billions of light years away, explaining that this detection opens up an entirely new way of observing the universe. Later, Professor Monica Grady (Open University) considered more local collisions which happen all the time from meteorites. An extreme example was the collision which produced the extinction of the dinosaurs- which got me thinking as to what are our chances if a similar collision happened again, or will climate change have done for us long since?
After our visit to the Crawick multiverse, the weekend concluded with two talks; Dr Noam Libeskind (Potsdam, Germany) described our place in the universe from a scientific point of view, and a conversation between Charles Jencks and the architect Daniel Libeskind investigated the cosmos as a source of inspiration and creativity.
It was an interesting and stimulating event, and I was glad that the SRT had been invited to participate. The one surprising thing was that over the weekend, the scientific theory of the multiverse (the idea that there are a number of parallel universes, including our own) got virtually no mention. It was only raised by a question from the floor and the speaker said that he did not believe in it.
Still, we can be sure of the existence of at least one very impressive “multiverse”, just off the B740 near Sanquhar, and it’s open to the public seven days a week. (http://www.crawickmultiverse.co.uk/)
Dr Robin Green