A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfDBW1Smu58
Poll 24 - "The Deutsch team at Oxford have proved that parallel universes resulting from chance and choice really exist. In a number of those, each of us have already died." Poll ended October 4, 2008. 79% agreed, while the remainder disagreed.
The critique of many worlds is shifting from 'it makes no sense and I hate it' to simply 'I hate it'.If you're familiar with Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, then I'm hoping that you recognized that concept when I used it in my original Imagining the Tenth Dimension animation. The idea that there are many possible outcomes from any particular "now" is easy to understand, everyone deals with that idea every minute of their life. What if I had stepped out in front of that car? What if I had won that lottery? What if I had talked to that person I recognized rather than pretending I didn't see them? Our lives are continually about a mix of choice, chance, and the actions of others.
- Cosmologist Max Tegmark of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
What Everett's theory proposed is that each of those other possible branches really do exist out there within the quantum wave function, and that we are merely observing one reality out of the many that continue to exist: the important part of this idea is that those other universes continue to exist, they're just not within the part of the wave function that we're currently observing. Everett presented this concept way back in 1957, and although great minds like Everett's thesis adviser John Wheeler liked the idea, many others within the scientific mainstream ridiculed it and the theory ended up languishing for many decades. Within the last few years though, Everett's Many Worlds theory has received much more attention, and (as I've said many times now in this blog) the Deutsch team's 2007 proof confirms that my use of the Many Worlds idea in my animation and my book is now more solidly based in science than it was when my project was first introduced to the world.
The quote above comes from the September 21 2007 article in New Scientist Magazine about this proof: written by Zeeya Merali, the article is entitled "Parallel Universes Make Quantum Sense". Click here for that article. You will see that this article talks a lot about Everett's Many Worlds, and the article takes the new Oxford team's proof very seriously. So seriously, in fact that a few months later when New Scientist was doing a roundup of the most important science stories of 2007, this proof ended up in the list, and you can click here for that article.
As you'll see in this second article, thinking about branching parallel universes that make sense for our universe can be fun. I've often given examples like "the version of our universe where it's 2008 and Elvis is still alive" or "and dinosaurs still walk the earth". But this idea also has a serious side: if the Everett interpretation and the Deutsch team's proof are to be believed, then the conclusion proposed in this poll question must be true - there must be versions of the universe where it's 2008 and I, or you, dear reader, are already dead. In my blog entry "We're Already Dead (But That's Okay)", we talked more about what that could mean to each of us as the "non-dead" versions of ourselves within the many possible parallel universes that exist for our universe.
In Randomness and the Missing 96%, and Unlikely Events and Timelessness, we also talked about the amazing set of unlikely circumstances that have resulted in the world you or I are witness to right now. This is the conclusion I reached at the end of chapter one of my book as well:
In any dimension lower than ten, all that can be viewed of reality is cross sections. But that is what makes our existence so interesting: not the infinite “white noise” of possibilities; but that out of all those possibilities that could be, we are in this very specific one, right here, and right now.As the quote from Max Tegmark indicated at the start of this entry, the Many Worlds Interpretation elicits a strong and sometimes visceral response: even when there is evidence that Everett's Interpretation actually reflects how our reality comes into being, there are some people who react strongly against this idea. One of my most popular blog entries over the last couple of months has been "Daily Parrying" which talks about why negative reactions like this can happen.
Enjoy the journey,
Next: Poll 25 - With new studies saying the Placebo Effect is real, what does this tell us about how much we control our health?
Click here for the archive of polls 1 to 10.
Click here for the archive of polls 11 to 15.
Click here for the archive of polls 16 to 20.