The Many Worlds Theory is Wildly Fascinating

Posted: August 8, 2017 in Deep Thoughts, Mystery, Science, The Unknown
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I’ve been interested in this stuff for years but have only recently started to actually read seriously about it. I’m sure you’re all somewhat familiar with it, because it’s been a popular subject in comics, TV shows and movies. We’ve all seen or read about people who stumbled upon a “portal” that they walk through and enter another space and time, right? Or “Chronicles of Narnia” anyone? My personal favorite is the book by H.G. Wells called “Men Like Gods”, complete with a multiverse theory and a paratime machine. Cool, especially for 1923. Anyway, the examples are endless.

But first, let’s get to an official definition of the Many Worlds Theory:

The many-worlds interpretation is an interpretation of quantum mechanics that asserts the objective reality of the universal wavefunction and denies the actuality of wavefunction collapse. Many-worlds implies that all possible alternate histories and futures are real, each representing an actual “world” or “universe”. 

Basically, this is saying that there is a very large, perhaps even infinite, number of universes, not just ours, and we could be in those other universes as well. It also says that everything that could possibly have happened in our past, but did not, has occurred in the past of some other universe or universes we lived in.

Man, that’s just crazy to think about. Parallel universes.

Think about it. Before this theory, reality had always been viewed as a single unfolding history. The Many Worlds Theory, however, views reality as a many-branched tree, where every possible outcome is realized.

For example, say an object’s wave function is both a particle and a wave. When a physicist measures the particle, there are two possible outcomes: It will either be measured as a particle or a wave. When a physicist measures the object, the universe splits into two distinct universes to accommodate each of the possible outcomes.

OK, I’m getting a headache. Forget all the wave and particle stuff, just understand that for everything that happens there are different outcomes, shooting out in different directions, to several universes. Or you could put it this way – we live in an infinite web of alternate timelines, but we can only see the one we exist in. Or maybe we can, but I’ll get to that shortly. So actually, if this is true, we live in a multiverse — where timelines are constantly branching off and creating distinct and coherent worlds, each experienced by a different version of you.

Stick with me while I give you one simple example. Let’s say that yesterday you left your house to go to work. A dog cuts in front of you but you swerve, miss him, and continue on your way. In another universe though, you hit him and kill him but go on your way. However, the dog’s owner is devastated, his life is changed forever and so on. In yet another timeline you miss the dog but hit an oncoming car head on and die. Not sure why I’m sing such morbid examples because they don’t have to be. Wait, I can’t stop there. In another universe you pull over, save the dog because it was a stray and he lives with you happily ever after. Whew. That’s better.

Now, imagine every example I just gave, every single act branching out in different directions like that. There could be countless versions of you out there. If the theory is true, then there must be an infinite number of versions of you out there, each of them experiencing the world as individuals separate from and oblivious to each other.  One may have died at birth, one may be living as a billionaire in New York. Maybe you turned into a mass murderer in another universe. Don’t laugh, remember that kid you hated in high school and wanted to murder? In one world, maybe you did. The possibilities are literally endless, because if this is true you have literally done and/or will do everything you could ever have conceive of doing. Mind boggled.

And think about what other kinds of worlds might exist in another universe. Maybe somebody invented time travel or cured cancer years ago. Maybe a war destroyed the planet and it had to start over. Again, endless possibilities.

Let me throw this out there. What about ghosts? Do we sometimes somehow get a glimpse of an alternate universe? Hey, the chair you’re sitting in right now could be in the middle of an insane asylum or a witches coven, literally anything. That noise you heard last night a couple rooms away? Don’t ask. Anyway, next time you think you saw something out of the corner of your eye only to turn and look but it was gone, don’t be alarmed. Perhaps you did.

But oh, there’s more that has crossed my twisted mind. We’ve all had feelings of deja vu, right? That sense that we’ve done something or been somewhere before, even though we know we haven’t? Maybe we have, it was just one of those many other versions of you. Maybe we sometimes have a sort of connection, or resonance, with the other universes that causes this phenomenon.

Look, I can’t begin to explain the scientific basis for the theory. I’ve read about it and sort of get it, but eventually all the wave function collapse and quantum gravity talk hurts my brain. All I know for sure is that it fascinates the bejesus out of me.

Oh, and one more thing. Do you know who devised the original Many Worlds Theory and Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics? A man named Hugh Everett III, who died in 1982. Like many ahead of  his time, he passed before his theory began to be taken seriously. But here’s my favorite part – Hugh Everett III was the father of Mark Oliver Everett, leader of one of my favorite bands, The Eels. True story.

Now that’s mind-boggling.

Father & Son

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