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 it's 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
Wertheim 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.
"In Linde's thory, 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.
Of 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. We 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 ourselves following the other path and living out its consequences.
With 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.