The Complexities Of Thinking About Parallel Universes
Writers of science-fiction and esoteric matters like to talk about parallel
universes and envision how life forms can magically move from the present universe to another, somewhat like our own but different,
by simply getting into a machine and pushing a button.
I have been guilty of suggesting that aliens freely visit our world by shifting
from their universe to ours in those strange UFOs and then going back again. After our misadventures with space exploration,
it seemed a more plausible explanation for alien visitation than believing another race of beings could, or would travel light
miles from other galaxies or constellations to visit Earth.
Within the last 20 years physicists
and mathematicians have developed a string theory that makes the concept of parallel universes more plausible. Plausible,
at least mathematically. From a reality standpoint, the probability of our ever finding a way to easily travel from one universe
to its twin appears to be out of our grasp.
The string theory suggests that, at its core, the universe we live in is composed
of subatomic strings within a closed loop, or circle. According to the theory, everything in the universe can be explained
in terms of these microscopic strings, or loops. To get a grasp on this, think of the tiny atom with protons and electrons
in motion around neutrons, much as planets spin around our sun and millions of solar systems spinning around in a constellation
and each constellation spinning about within a galaxy, and so on.
It all seems to work in remarkable
order, and yet when the mathematicians and physicists start working out all of the complex equations, based upon the string
theory, they come up with a remarkable number of possibilities for parallel universes, all similar but all uniquely different
from our own.
One article by Margaret Wertheim quotes physicist Joseph Polchinski as estimating
as many as 10 to the power of 60 solutions to these equations. That would count out to a million billion billion billion billion
billion billion possible universes. I think there would be a lot of zeros in a figure like that.
quotes Stanford University physicist Andrei Linde who she says has developed a theory of "eternal inflation." He suggests
that there exists an "infinite bubbling sea of universes, each as real and concrete as our own.
Linde's theory, each universe is a unique bubble of space and time equipped with its own laws of physics and its own cosmic
history. These other universes may differ wildly from our own, possessing different kinds of matter, different kinds of forces,
even different numbers of dimensions," she wrote.
Then there is Lee Smolin, a specialist in quantum gravity at Perimer Institute
in Canada, who suggests that baby universes constantly "bud" from older universes from the heart of black holes.
course there is the belief among the occultists that each human, possessing a piece of the soul or God within them, generates
his or her own universe from mere existence and thought. We all live in our own unique universe that overlaps and interacts
with the universes of the people we come in contact with each day. These people also believe that we have the mental ability
to shape and change our universes as we choose.
I enjoy carrying this concept one step farther. That is to say that each time
we make a choice in life, we are, in effect, splitting our universe into two parts. In one universe we take the left road
and in the other universe we turn right. We consciously follow the choice that we make and continue on that path. But in the
new universe, there is a clone of us following the other path and living out its consequences.
somewhere between six and seven billion people on this planet, all actively generating multiple new universes every day, it
is conceivable that Polchinski's impossible number of parallel universes, calculated from the string theory way of looking
at things, might be quite right.