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Parallel Universes: Are They More Than a Figment of Our Imagination? A Galaxy Classic

Multiverse_2 "The multiverse is no longer a model, it is a consequence of our models.”

~Aurelien Barrau, particle physicist at CERN

The Hollywood blockbuster, The Golden Compass, adapted from the first volume of Pullman's classic sci-fi trilogy, "His Dark Materials" portrays various universes as only one reality among many, but how realistic is this kind of classic sci-fi plot? While it hasn’t been proven yet, many highly respected and credible scientists are now saying there’s reason to believe that parallel dimensions could very well be more than figments of our imaginations.

"The idea of multiple universes is more than a fantastic invention—it appears naturally within several scientific theories, and deserves to be taken seriously," stated Aurelien Barrau, a French particle physicist at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

There are a variety of competing theories based on the idea of parallel universes, but the most basic idea is that if the universe is infinite, then everything that could possibly occur has happened, is happening, or will happen.

According to quantum mechanics, nothing at the subatomic scale can really be said to exist until it is observed. Until then, particles occupy uncertain "superposition" states, in which they can have simultaneous "up" and "down" spins, or appear to be in different places at the same time. The mere act of observing somehow appears to "nail down" a particular state of reality. Scientists don’t yet have a perfect explanation for how it occurs, but that hasn’t changed the fact that the phenomenon does occur.

Unobserved particles are described by "wave functions" representing a set of multiple "probable" states. When an observer makes a measurement, the particle then settles down into one of these multiple options, which is somewhat how the multiple universe theory can be explained.

The existence of such a parallel universe "does not even assume speculative modern physics, merely that space is infinite and rather uniformly filled with matter as indicated by recent astronomical observations," Max Tegmark, a cosmologist at MIT in Boston, Massachusetts concluded in a study of parallel universes published by Cambridge University.

Mathematician Hugh Everett published landmark paper in 1957 while still a graduate student at Princeton University. In this paper he showed how quantum theory predicts that a single classical reality will gradually split into separate, but simultaneously existing realms.

"This is simply a way of trusting strictly the fundamental equations of quantum mechanics," says Barrau. "The worlds are not spatially separated, but exist as kinds of 'parallel' universes."

Partly because the idea is so uncomfortably strange, it’s dismissed as sci-fi by many critics. But there are also many credible, respected proponents of the theory—a group that is continuously gaining new adherents as new research unveils new evidence. Some Oxford research—for the first time—recently found  a mathematical answer that sweeps away one of the key objections to the controversial idea. Their research shows that Everett was indeed on the right track when he came up with his multiverse theory. The Oxford team, led by Dr David Deutsch, showed mathematically that the bush-like branching structure created by the universe splitting into parallel versions of itself can explain the probabilistic nature of quantum outcomes.

The work has another strange implication. The idea of parallel universes would apparently side-step one of the key complaints with time travel. Every since it was given serious credibility in 1949 by the great logician Kurt Godel, many eminent physicists have argued against time travel because it undermines ideas of cause and effect. An example would be the famous “grandfather paradox” where a time traveler goes back to kill his grandfather so that he is never born in the first place.

But if parallel worlds do exist, there is a way around these troublesome paradoxes. Deutsch argues that time travel shifts happen between different branches of reality. The mathematical breakthrough bolsters his claim that quantum theory does not forbid time travel. "It does sidestep it. You go into another universe," he said. But he admits that there will be a lot of work to do before we can manipulate space-time in a way that makes “hops” possible. While it may sound fanciful, Deutsch says that scientific research is continually making the theory more believable.

"Many sci-fi authors suggested time travel paradoxes would be solved by parallel universes but in my work, that conclusion is deduced from quantum theory itself."

The borderline between physics and metaphysics is not defined by whether an entity can be observed, but whether it is testable, insists Tegmark.

He points to phenomena such as black holes, curved space, the slowing of time at high speeds, even a round Earth, which were all once rejected as scientific heresy before being proven through experimentation, even though some remain beyond the grasp of observation. It is likely, Tegmark concludes that multiverse models grounded in modern physics will eventually be empirically testable, predictive and disprovable.

Posted by Rebecca Sato

Related Galaxy posts:

New Proof from Oxford: Parallel Universes Exist
Cosmic Pentimento: Beyond the Great Void May be a Great Something
Weird Science: Can Time Move Backwards?

links:
http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2007/09/n--one-of-the-m.html

http://physorg.com/news118241154.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2007/09/21/sciuni121.xml

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=paUniverse_sun14_parallel_universes&show_article=1&cat=0

Comments

I want to be in the universe with the male birth control pill and where women pay for dates.

I want to have my baby!

If there are multiple parallel universes, and time travel is possible, then the time line must be changing. The fact that we "remember" our time line means nothing, because we would not be aware as the time line changed, as our memories would be changing with it. Other universes would have changing time lines as well. All these parallel universes swirling and churning in different dimensions. If that is so, then what we consider "reality" is a total illusion, an infintesimally small part of an Infinite reality....

This is why I love reading science fiction; authors who know what they're talking about (Asimov, Sagan) can explore these ideas in terms that a dumdum like me can understand.

I recommend "The Proteus Experiment" for anyone interested in MV/time travel theory.

I dunno, seems to me there MUST be something out there somewhere. We cant be the "only ones". I mean really.

RT
www.whos-watching.se.tc

It would be nice if we could first worry about how we all behave as individuals before we even think about jacking up the other side of the fence. We can't even handle the one we are in. Why would we want to go and make a mess in another universe?

I'd like to live in a universe where diet coke is not harmful to my body. and there is no such thing as diabetes.

that means that somewhere out there i'm doing jessica alba WOW!!

This basically means there is a universe for everything that is physically possible. Of course things that are physically impossible aren't gonna create new branches of universes.

So somewhere the Nazi's won? Hope that they are not going to invade.

Just think... we could have that idiot Obama in other parallel universes along with all of the other Bush haters. Pathetic, most of these idiots do not even know why they dislike Bush! At least I know why I do not like Obama, he is spending the Nation into bankruptcy just like the other Democrats in California and in Los Angeles.

These Democratically controlled/Union controlled governments are ALL bankrupt! It is these types of Bush idiot haters will be paying more of their hard-earned money to those at the top and those at the top have done a good job of deflecting the attention away from themselves while they steal the nation's resources.

Huh... In MY universe MIT is in Cambridge, not Boston....

I find it odd that the author chose to cite "The Golden Compass" as her example of the treatment of parallel universes in popular fiction. A much better and more recent example would be Neal Stephenson's novel "Anathem."

In the Christian world there is a sect that believes that Heaven and Hell (they don't use those names) are physically located on this earth, but in alternative dimensions. They believe that when someone dies their spirit is of a material that is refined enough that they are then able to choose to cross in to the other dimension. The dimensions are essentially different degrees of refinement of matter. Our reality (dimension) operates at one degree of refinement, theirs another; sort of like different radio frequencies. They believe that there are many "levels" of this refinement and those that are the most refined are able to travel to those dimensions that are less refined; but the less refined is not able to travel up to the more refined.

Of course, they use "religion" vocabulary when they speak of the above, but that is the essence of what they believe": Earth is the host to many worlds.

wow, a universe where marijuana is legal, no, no, it's not just legal, it's worshipped, dude.

The notion that a particle doesn't exist as you see it until it is observed is ridiculous. That we witness this phenomenon only suggests that there's more going on than we understand. "God" does not play dice, people. Doesn't Einstein get any respect anymore?

Really, as-if human sensory-perception (or some sort of artificial detection via some sort of technology) can actually affect reality on a subatomic level. Nonsense.

One thing thats always griped me about the grandfather paradox is this.

You go back in time and kill your Grand father, so you were never born, Now your Grandfather is dead so shouldn't it end there?

Now if you continue the paradox your Grandfather has no-one to kill him so your born, now what says that you HAVE to kill your grandfather again? If your "living again" why would you take the exact same actions? the paradox would only continue untill you chose not to kill your Grandfather.

SUB: PARALLEL UNIVERSE- UNIVERSE AS PART OF COSMOS
See COSMIC FUNCTION OF THE UNIVERSE in my books[1996]
The subject is also introduced in two articles- Cosmology Review dot com by me.
COSMOLOGY DEFINITION:
Cosmology is a borderland between science and Philosophy
Cosmology deals with Multi-Universe concepts and
the Universe as part of Cosmos.
Cosmology details Creation, stability and
dissolution of the Universe or parts thereof.
Cosmology covers broad Prime drive functions and
links :
COSMOLOGY FROM PHILOSOPHY TO VEDAS
1. Cosmology in Vedas 2.Cosmology in Philosophy
3.Science of Philosophy 4. Basic Philosophy
FROM SCIENCE TO COSMOLOGY
1. Basic Science 2. Philosophy of Science
3.Cosmogony-Astrophysics
4. Cosmology -Present Day under Revision
NATURE TO COSMIC DIVINE
1.Nature 2.Divine Function in Nature 3. Divine Universe 4.Cosmos Divine
Key Words: Cosmology Definition, Cosmology Primer,
Cosmology Drive,Cosmology Science, cosmology Vedas, Cosmology Philosophy, Cosmology Nature,
Cosmic Divine Function, Cosmology interlinks,
Cosmology Space Science,Cosmology Knowledge Base, Knowledge Expansion,creation in the Universe,
Stability of the Universe , Dissolution of the part of the Universe
COSMIC VISION: Centre of the Universe Heart of the
Universe-Nov 2006 - By Vidyardhi Nanduri
Copy Rights TXU 1-364-245 -
The Science in Philosophy- Pridhvi Viswam Asya
Dharineem Cosmos yoga vision series-II-
cover upto 10^5 Light Years —Vidyardhi Nanduri,
HEART OF THE UNIVERSE by Vidyardhi Nanduri, Nov 2006,
EAST-WEST Interaction helps Proper Comprehension
search: Cosmology Vedas Interlinks
This Cosmological Index identifies VISIBLE-INVISIBLE UNIVERSE MATRIX structure through projections in my books

If true, this theory means that whatever possible scenario you can imagine, however unlikely, is happening in at least one parallel instance of our universe.

So for example, in some incredibly wild, and highly un-probable universe, I am the president of the USA.

In a stranger universe a micro-meteor from space is at this moment hurtling through the atmosphere, and will come crashing through my window, like a bullet, and directly impact my heart killing me right now ----------

Good. I'm still here. I'm not in that universe. So whatever you can imagine, however unlikely, somewhere in the multi-verse there is an instance of it.

That means each time you purchase a lottery ticket, on parallel version of yourself wins. That universe then branches off and proceeds onto a different evolutionary path in which you are a multi-millionaire.

In an even more unlikely universe, not only do you win the lottery, but you really like my post, so you track me down and give me half of your winnings! (Weird and very unlikely -- but if you can imagine it, then somewhere it is happening!)


The article is well presented and the possibility of multi-verses should exist. The basic concept of space/time initiated by Einstein was in the context of understanding phenomena in the Theory of Relativity. The assumptions of distortion free space and time that is homogeneous too may well be valid in our universe at present. In the early universe distortions may well have occured to generate mass and release energy required at times dictated by the evolution of the Universe. There is certainly a logical design in the evolution. It could not be a purely random process. The intelligence may well be associated with the potential Unified Field that pre-existed the birth of the Universe. Extreme contractions and expansions of space/time may well have caused the generation of mass and energy. Constancy is not a law of nature which follows a changing environment that may well show different lifetime periods for such changes as per the logical design. Different Universes can then be imagined to follow different logical patterns.

the paradox is: if I had not read any of your replies, none of you would exist.

Have a nice day

I deciced to be in the Universe with this message in it, this world is mine for without me it would not be.

I have a real problem with the Evans-Wheeler multiple universe thing. Let me explain: Sometime in the 12th century a crusader scratched his head with his left hand rather than his right, the wave function was collapsed, and a new universe was born. This morning I got up on the left side of the bed rather than the right, I chose one variety of coffee over another; in fact I made thousands of decisions and choices today, maybe 10s of thousands, and so did all 6 billion of us. It would be fair to say that a very, very large number of universes were born today, according to the theory as I understand it.

Multiply this very, very large number by the number of days since the origin of human consciousness (a couple hundred thousand years maybe?) and the number of parallel universes becomes truly astronomical. And remember too that in each of these new universes roughly the same number get created every day as well, adding an almost infinite number of new universes to the "metaverse" on a daily basis.

Doesn't it seem like a bit much? Maybe someone can help me out here, but it just seems to me that the metaverse is expanding far too rapidly and is getting way too cluttered. Does the theory really allow for this many alternate universes? Has Occam's razor really been applied?

Bootless to keep pointing this out, since even physicists use the term, but "parallel" is the wrong word. No schematic in any number of dimensions can render divergences as parallel. One of your commenters used the word "multiple," which is, if not geometrically specific, at least more accurate.

Increasingly these posts resemble science fiction more than they do science, not that that is a bad thing. They deal in speculation, in possible implications of theories that are defensible not because we can prove them, but because we cannot rule them out. Understandable, because there is a rush one gets from a beautiful speculation.

Problem is, one becomes resistant, just as one does to mind-expanding chemicals. Requires larger and larger doses to produce the same effect, and eventually the effect is so minimal as to pass unnoticed. Another example of diminishing returns, I would say.

The only way to wake the mind is to learn something new (and I don't mean a bit of trivial data, but something fundamental,something which alters the relationships between all one's previously-absorbed bits of data).


Yes agreed : all these parallel universes may very well exist with or without our consciousness or common Physics verifications in Labs.

With quantum mechanics the test in labs are rather though : you never know about the result.

Regards to the possible multiverses

Claudio

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