A direct link to this video can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQMO1eyMRuM
Here's something I've said before: things become less interesting to us as the number of choices multiply. If, as I've proposed with this project, the sixth dimension includes every possible expression of the wave function for our universe, then it includes the version where I went crazy, shot up my town, died in a hail of bullets. Do I ever want to even witness that particular version of reality? No thank you!
Nine dimensions, three triads, enfolded into the tenth dimension
Last blog, we talked about how dimensions four through six can be called the "moral" triad. It's that narrowing down of possibilities, through the moral decisions I've made so far, that have created the fifth dimensional subset that I have access to from this "now" forward--and that will continue to be true for the rest of my life. If you are fully engaged with that process, what could be more exciting? Every instant we are observing new possibilities from a fantastically complex wave function that exists across the dimensions, but which are also uniquely defined by our own personal set of experiences.
Some people like to make fun of this idea, but this is essentially true: we are each creating a version of the universe through our role as quantum observers, and the path that each of us takes is unique. But we're each also participating in a consensual reality that has been created by the other people we share this reality with, which means their moral decisions are also part of my probability set. This is the hard part, because it means someone else can still choose to kill me, or they can do things that limit my access to possible futures I'd like to get to.
Thinking about Parallel Universes
Which takes us to the craziest part of this idea: each of us have already died through bad luck or bad choices made, that's just not the part of the multiverse that we're currently witnessing. Believe it or not, that's the idea that started this all for me back when I was seven, but it has taken me many years of thinking and reading to arrive at the conclusion that this crazy idea is supported by science!
I've written many times about the proof published by the Oxford University team under the direction of physicist David Deutsch, a proof which New Scientist magazine listed as one of the most important scientific stories of 2007: the bush-like branching structure of our quantum wave function, and the parallel universes that result from chance and choice for each of us are provably equivalent. This means the universe where I took five minutes longer to get out of bed this morning is part a different parallel universe, which is just as real as the one I'm currently witnessing, it just happens to not be the version I'm traveling within. Mind-boggling? You bet. But also, as it turns out, completely compatible with what I've been claiming since I first came up with this way of visualizing reality over twenty years ago.
I'm a Spime and So Are You
In the original tenth dimension animation, we imagined a person's body as if it were a spime: a four-dimensional object. In the animation, we said this:
If you were to see your body in the fourth dimension, you would be like a long undulating snake, with your embryonic self at one end and your deceased self at the other.If there were only one possible timeline from the beginning to the end of a person's life, that would be the end of the discussion. But as we explored in my book and blog entries like The Spacetime Tree, I'm proposing that our reality actually comes from the probability space of the fifth dimension, and it's easy to envision the branching structures that result from chance and choice as being part of a tree-like structure in the fifth dimension.
Souls as Systems
With this project, we're imagining a person's "soul" not as a single self-contained unit, but rather as being a multi-layered system of memes, a "society of mind" across the dimensions. Now we're talking about a set of parallel universes where, in many of them, bad things have happened that resulted in our deaths: but since everyone reading this blog is alive and not dead (I presume), we know that those branching timelines are not part of the parallel universe we're each currently witnessing. Yikes! What does this all mean?
How unlikely is the "Now" we're each currently in?
In Randomness and the Missing 96%, we talked about the idea that dark matter and junk DNA might be telling us more than we realize about how unlikely our current reality really is. And if we add up all of the bad luck and deliberate actions of others that could have resulted in each of us being dead by now, don't we arrive at the same conclusion? When you consider how many situations exist within all of the possible parallel universes for our universe where events conspired to result in each of us dying, it really does seem like a marvelous thing that we get to experience this reality which must be way out on the edge of the bell curve, a highly unlikely universe where each of us have managed to survive... for now.
So now, let's think about that "long undulating snake" that is our body not just in the fourth, but in the fifth dimension. From conception to death, there is the actual 4D "line of time" we have followed, and (as the Deutsch team have proved) there is the bush-like branching structure of possible outcomes extending out from our current "now". So we have something like a dandelion gone to seed held in our minds, with a single stalk representing the past and a "ray" of possible futures at the head.
But what about that missing 96%? Does it factor into the equation here as well? If we're thinking about all of the many possible paths that we have traveled upon up until now which, in a multiverse of possible timelines must include those times when we've already died, we can see in the past a great many other branches which extended off from the main stalk and ended. In my book I said this:
For each of us, we will be able to remember moments of malicious, random, or foolish action that could have done us in. It’s hard to forget that moment where a large object falling or a silly risk taken might have resulted in our death if we had only been in a slightly different place and time. According to the worldview we’re exploring, all of those things did actually happen: that drunk driver you saw last year came over the hill and smashed into you head on, and now you’re dead.Asking the Big Questions
This is a question people ask themselves all time: what happens to us when we die? One interesting proposal I saw recently suggested maybe whatever we expect to happen is exactly what does happen! If you believe there will be nothing, that's what you get. If you believe that you will be able to continue to watch this particular version of the universe and see what happens to your loved ones, that's what happens. If you believe you will be enfolded back into a white light of all patterns and frequencies, that's where you'll go. And so on! By the time we're "outside" of the arrow of time, there's no reason to assume that these options are mutually exclusive, either: free from the limitations of a physical body riding along an entropy-driven timeline, a person's awareness could explore every parallel universe simultaneously if that was what they wanted to do!
I've quoted from Douglas Hofstadter's I Am a Strange Loop before with his well-considered musings on what parts of the pattern that represents a person might continue on. Now here's a different way of thinking about this idea: if there is a fifth-dimensional spacetime tree of other possible timelines for our universe, and each of us has timelines where we've already died, then could it be that there are parts of our consciousness, the interlocking patterns that make up our "society of mind" that chose to jump on to our current timeline because they wanted to see what would have happened if they hadn't died? The old adage "once bitten, twice shy" takes on a whole new meaning - if there are tiny voices in my head saying "remember how I died last time I tried that!" then perhaps next time I will be less likely to take a silly risk.
My song "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" is a meditation on the question of what happens to us when we die. To finish, here's a video of me sitting at my old piano singing that song.
A direct link to this video can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeClGTuhCy4
Enjoy the journey,
For related discussion of these ideas:
Unlikely Events and Timelessness
The Spacetime Tree
The Fifth Dimension Isn't Magic
John August and The Nines
PS: Have each of us already died in other parts of the multiverse? That's one of our poll questions right now. And a few blog entries ago I mentioned a project called The Omniverse Almanac, some interesting fiction writing which explores a similar world of ideas, check it out!
Next: Time in 3 Dimensions