All possible worlds

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“The distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” - Albert Einstein
Out of all possible worlds and realities, we’re really in this one? NASA Hubble Space Telescope via Unsplash, manipulated by lee lim

Reality or realities?

by zinnia jaswal, contributor

In the grand tapestry of existence, the notion of a multiverse stands as a tantalizing hypothesis, offering a breathtaking glimpse into the boundless expanse of possibility. At its core, the multiverse theory posits that our universe is not alone, but is just one of an infinite number of parallel realities, each with its own unique set of physical laws, cosmic histories, and untold wonders.

Within this vast cosmic ensemble, every decision, every action, and every twist of fate spawns an alternate reality, branching off into an endless array of potentialities. From worlds where dinosaurs still roam to realms where humanity has reached the stars, the multiverse presents a captivating vision of reality as a kaleidoscope of infinite diversity and boundless imagination.

Several years ago Monza, Italy’s city council introduced an unusual law banning goldfish owners from keeping their aquatic pets in traditional spherical fishbowls. The rationale behind this measure stemmed from empathy: the council deemed it inhumane to confine a fish within the curved confines of such a bowl, arguing that it distorted the fish’s perception of reality. Beyond the immediate concern for the well-being of the goldfish, this incident sparked an intriguing philosophical question: how can we truly discern the authenticity of the reality we perceive?

The goldfish, confined to its spherical enclosure, experiences a reality distinct from ours. But can we confidently assert that its reality is any less genuine? It prompts us to consider whether we, too, might spend our lives observing the world through a lens that distorts our perception. This philosophical quandary resonates deeply, stirring contemplation about the nature of our own realities and the lenses through which we view the world.

In the realm of physics, this question goes beyond speculation; it forms the crux of contemporary discourse. Physicists and cosmologists find themselves confronting a parallel dilemma akin to that of the goldfish. For decades, the pursuit of an ultimate Theory of Everything has been underway – a comprehensive framework of fundamental laws elucidating every facet of reality. However, recent developments suggest that this endeavor may not yield a singular theory but rather a nexus of interconnected theories, each offering its unique perspective on reality, akin to viewing the universe through distinct lenses.

Recently delving into Albert Einstein’s life, I stumbled upon his intriguing venture into the realms of quantum theory, an endeavor left tragically unfinished. Einstein famously said, “I want to know how God created this world. I’m not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts; the rest are just details.”

I found myself irresistibly drawn to this captivating notion. Einstein’s quest was not merely to unravel the mechanics of the universe but to delve into the very essence of creation – to comprehend the underlying patterns and principles that govern existence. For him, the intricacies of the natural world were like footprints leading to a higher understanding. In this simple yet profound statement, he encapsulated his belief that scientific exploration could reveal glimpses of the divine design of the world.

The film Back to the Future took us on a journey through the corridors of the multiverse, where the fabric of reality is woven from the threads of countless possibilities, and where the line between science fiction and scientific inquiry blurs into a mesmerizing dance of cosmic revelation. Picture this: Marty McFly, a typical teenager with a knack for trouble, finds himself inadvertently thrust into the wild world of time travel when he steps into Doc Brown’s DeLorean. With a “Great Scott!” here and a lightning bolt there, they’re off on a rollercoaster ride through the years, dodging paradoxes as well as bullets in a shootout. But wait, there’s more!

Imagine if Marty’s escapades in the past not only altered history but also inadvertently influenced the very fabric of reality itself. Suddenly, we’re not just talking about alternate timelines; we’re delving into a multiverse of Marty mayhem! One where Biff Tannen rules with an iron fist, another where Doc’s inventions have shaped a utopian future, and perhaps, just perhaps, one where Marty accidentally becomes his own grandfather.

What if our universe is just one of countless others, each with its own set of rules, its own version of history, and its own quirky quirks? Maybe there’s a universe where gravity works in reverse, or where time flows sideways like a meandering river. Who knows?

Imagine if each time Marty punched in a date on the time circuits, he wasn’t just traveling to a different point in history but to an entirely different universe altogether. In one reality, he lands in a neon-drenched ‘80s where hair metal reigns supreme and hoverboards are the preferred mode of transportation. In another, he finds himself in a world where dinosaurs never went extinct, and humans coexist with prehistoric beasts. There might even be a universe where everyone communicates exclusively in interpretive dance!

One fascinating aspect of the multiverse is the concept of “quantum entanglement” between parallel universes. In some interpretations, particles in one universe can become entangled with their counterparts in another universe. This means that actions taken in one universe could instantaneously affect the state of particles in a separate universe, regardless of the distance between them. Imagine Marty inadvertently altering history in one universe, leading to a chain reaction of events that ripple across the multiverse. These changes could potentially be detected through quantum entanglement, offering a tantalizing glimpse into the interconnectedness of alternate realities.

Within physics, the concept of a multiverse is intricately linked to a cutting-edge field known as string theory. In its essence, string theory proposes that at the most fundamental level of reality, subatomic particles aren’t tiny, indivisible points, but rather minuscule, vibrating strings. These strings produce various notes or vibrations, each corresponding to a different type of particle in the universe. The symphony of these vibrating strings generates the diverse array of particles we observe, while their harmonies dictate the fundamental laws of physics governing our universe.

In essence, the universe itself can be envisioned as a grand symphony of strings, each vibrating in its unique pattern to create the intricate tapestry of reality. According to string theory, this symphony extends far beyond our own universe, suggesting the existence of countless parallel universes, each with its own composition of vibrating strings and resulting physical laws.

Thus, our universe is just one stanza in the epic composition of the multiverse, with an infinite array of parallel realities waiting to be explored. As Einstein once wrote, “The distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” There might be copies of us living an entirely different life. The delicate dance of quantum probabilities underscores the bewildering array of potential outcomes that populate the boundless expanse of the multiverse.

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