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Perhaps the observable universe we know is only a fragment of a much larger “choose your own adventure” storyline that plays out in parallel worlds. Does it sound like we’re trippin’? Yes, it really does, but consider that the idea of parallel universes has been around since the 50s – not exactly a new idea. Now it appears the seemingly bizarre idea is gaining traction, and in fact, those worlds may interact with our own.
Howard Wiseman, a physicist at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, and his colleagues have introduced a new idea called the “many interacting worlds” hypothesis (MIW). He says the inspirations really started almost seven decades ago. Rather than just one possible outcome, multiple realities could be taking place at once.
“The idea of parallel universes in quantum mechanics has been around since 1957. In the well-known ‘Many-Worlds Interpretation’, each universe branches into a bunch of new universes every time a quantum measurement is made. All possibilities are therefore realized — in some universes the dinosaur-killing asteroid missed Earth. In others, Australia was colonized by the Portuguese.”
Of course, who cares if multiple realities are taking place if we can’t hope to ever interact with them? How could we ever test the idea out if we can only imagine those other worlds? In reality, maybe at the subatomic level, we have been interacting all along.
“But critics question the reality of these other universes since they do not influence our universe at all,” Wiseman says. “On this score, our ‘Many Interacting Worlds’ approach is completely different, as its name implies.”
MIW is a new take on the “many-worlds interpretation” of quantum theory but suggests it is possible to detect how words interact on the quantum level. Worlds “influence one another through a subtle force of repulsion.” This repulsion causes similar or nearby worlds to become more dissimilar.
Does this mean your evil twin exists closer than you thought? Maybe…
According to CosmosUp:
“The [MIW] approach proposes that the universe that we experience is just one of a gigantic number of worlds – some of which are nearly identical to ours, while others are vastly different. Each of these worlds are equally real and exist continuously through time, they added.”
Now, Wiseman and his colleagues are proposing ways they hope to test the math.
— CosmosUp (@CosmossUp) March 6, 2015
Mother Nature Network explains that the force of repulsion can be studied:
“Wiseman and colleagues have proposed that there exists ‘a universal force of repulsion between ‘nearby’ (i.e. similar) worlds, which tends to make them more dissimilar.’ Quantum effects can be explained by factoring in this force, they propose.”
“Whether or not the math holds true will be the ultimate test for this theory. Does it or does it not properly predict quantum effects mathematically? But the theory is certain to provide plenty of fodder for the imagination.”
It seems we are still in the infancy of understanding the true nature of our observable universe, as much as we like to think we’ve come a long way. Although we most likely won’t be able to make the technological and intellectual leap of observing a paralell universe anytime soon, one day that may not be so far-fetched.
We previously took a look at physicists from Tennessee who believe that particles of dark matter could “phase back and forth between our familiar universe and the mirror-image one.” A paralell universe could contain mirror atoms, mirror molecules, mirror stars and planets, and even mirror life. Though it remains invisible to us, particles of dark matter might travel between the paralell universes.
So the next time you wonder what your life might have been like if you had only done something different, it might help to consider that in another world, that choice has already had the chance to play out in a million different ways. Every outcome you could think of has already happened. Gives a whole new meaning to, “It’s five o’clock somewhere,” now doesn’t it?
For more on this confusing but fascinating subject, watch this easy-to-follow video from minutephysics:
Featured image: Yin Yang image via Pixabay