When I first heard about the concept of parallel universes, I laughed. This was the stuff of science fiction, and I was expected to take it seriously? Yet I respected the source and decided to read up a little more. What I found was both intellectually flabbergasting and personally liberating.
Science is stranger than fiction
When scientists discovered quantum physics, everything they thought they knew about our physical world was turned on its head. If you find thinking in four dimensions challenging, get this – scientists are now thinking in eleven dimensions!
As a result of this quantum leap in human understanding, many scientists now believe that our universe is a bubble floating in a sea of bubbles, each of them a parallel universe.
I’ll try to make the science simple to understand, for my sake more than for yours. If you can plod through the next bit, you’ll see why understanding the concept of parallel universes is literally life-giving.
We don’t really know what is there…
An accepted axiom in quantum physics is that the moment you see something, it is not there anymore. This is known as the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle which states that the very act of observing quantum matter affects the behaviour of that matter.
Think of it like ‘reality’ TV – the moment people know they are being observed by others, their behaviour is affected. So we never observe anything in its ‘natural’ form – that form is influenced the moment we observe it.
… yet everything is always there
Nobel-winning Danish physicist Niels Bohr interpreted this principle to mean that quantum particles don’t exist in one state or another, but in all their possible states at once. This is called the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics.
It’s like a computer game – all the possible scenarios in the game are already in the game when it is written by the programmers. So although you only see one outcome when you play, all the other outcomes are there as well.
There are many worlds…
Princeton mathematician Hugh Everett further stated that when we attempt to measure an outcome, we actually split the universe into all the possible outcomes. Every action creates all possible consequences of that action, each consequence happening in a different universe. This is known as the Many Worlds theory.
Compare this to scenario planning in the military, where they spend years drawing up different possible outcomes and planning the response for each. On paper and in their minds all those different outcomes already exist. Everett just takes it a step further by saying that these various outcomes literally exist in different worlds.
… and you are in all of them
This means that your previous contemplations whether to become a lawyer or doctor resulted in you being both, just in separate universes. And if death was a possible outcome in any action or decision, then the universe would have accommodated this by creating a universe with this outcome, and in that universe you would be dead.
Here’s a 9:57 minute video that introduces the theory of parallel universes more dramatically. If you’re interested in the science, another 2:25 minute video explains the 11th dimension and how parallel universes work.
So what does this mean for us?
I don’t know what your reaction to all this is, but I found it incredibly liberating. Obviously not all scientists agree so the science is still up for debate, but certainly we cannot ignore at least the possibility that parallel universes exist.
If the theory is true, then this is what it means to me:
- Regret is not necessary. Sometimes I wistfully wonder what life would have been like if I’d gone into law or medicine or married young and had 4 kids by now. Well, these outcomes already exist and in some other universes, I am already all these things. I just don’t know it because I’m in this universe. So I am already everything I ever wanted to be. How cool is that?
- Death loses its sting. When my dad passed away, I wondered if he would have lived longer if he had done things differently – drunk less alcohol, eaten healthily, taken more supplements… Parallel universes would mean that somewhere in another universe, he may still be alive because in that universe, he did the things that promoted longevity.
- Decisions become easier. If every possible outcome already exists, it doesn’t matter what I choose because I will experience them all. There will be different ‘me’s indifferent universes, though each ‘me’ is only aware of itself. This makes me more detached from the outcome of my choices, because the concept of sacrifice or opportunity cost becomes obsolete.
- Living in the now comes naturally. Instead of wondering what life would have been like if I’d started my own business and become a billionaire at the age of 30 😉 I can be happy knowing that I’m already living that dream somewhere else. Right now, right here, I’m living another dream and can concentrate on living this one really well.
What about you? What are your thoughts on parallel universes and what would it mean to you if this amazing, unbelievable hypothesis were actually true?