Reality Check (1/2) – Many Worlds Theory

Yesterday I finished reading this amazing book titled, The Hidden Reality by Brian Greene, and wrote a review here. The book is based on the different multiverse theories out there, and so I had an idea what I was reading, and what the book had in store for me. It was all going fine, crazy-yes, but fine. Until, I reached the end chapters. That is when the book introduced the most crazy ideas, some I had read before, but never thought so hard, and some new, and I am going to discuss a few of them  here, but not to make one post too long, it is divided in two posts. This ideas made my head go so crazy thinking that it became hard to concentrate on the book, and I had to put it down and literally massage my head. The author wrote in such interactive way, he forced you to think. Though I will not go very deep in the subject, and leave it to you to read and discover what the book is about.

The first thing we will talk about is the ‘Many World Theory’, a multiverse/ multiple universe theory that stems out of Quantum Mechanics, as if it wasn’t weird already.I have read about it before, but this book refreshed the memory. Now here is the thing, the book introduced some multiverse theories before this one, but what makes this one stand out of the crowd is that while the others predict/require multiple universes outside our own universe, these were all created at the same time all (big-bang perhaps), or at different times but independent of each other, this many world theory predicts new worlds forming out of our very own universe/world every now and then. Basically, right from it, imagine a ball suddenly splitting into two, identical balls differing in just one major aspect, a possibility. In one line here is the theory, every time you are faced with a decision/choice say with two options your/the world ‘splits’ into two exactly identical universes, with one difference, in one you chose option A in the other option B. And this is not just an empty claim but one that is supported by mathematics. Below, I will talk more about it.

Let’s talk and make it simple. Quantum mechanics tells us the probability of some event’s occurence, and no matter how small, if an event has a positive non-zero probability, it can occur. Now, every particle (or body) can be said to have an associated probability wave(wave function) that can be imagined as a ‘probability field’ of the particle to occur at a certain place, and depending on the probability of it to occur at a particular place, the amplitude of this wave varies. Now, one of the founders of quantum mechanics, Neil Bohr, and his associates said that this wave ‘collapses’ when a particle is spotted and thus killing its probability to be someplace else, and when you look away, the probability wave comes to existence again, but in a new form, depending on the new probabilities, and collapses again on observation. This is already a bit too much to digest, but the concept of this ‘probability wave’ is well established by observations and mathematics. All was fine until one day, a student of John Wheeler, H. Everett came with an objection and a solution. The Schrodinger’s Equation, the very basic equation of quantum mechanics, that predicts what the probability wave is like CANNOT collapse and reemerge and re-collapse and so on. The ignorance of this critical mathematical point is criminal. This is the solution he offered. Let there be two available positions, A and B, for a particle to be, and let its wave be spread to this areas depending on probabilities. Now, he says, as soon as an observation is made, your/the universe splits(not exactly) into two identical ones, with identical you-s and identical surroundings, just in one you see the particle at A and in the other at B. There is no way of telling which is the real one, because both of them are real and no more real than each other. Crazy isn’t it?! The math allows it, it does not throw the basic equation away, and thus no ‘laws’ broken. Now, it can be argued that since all the options actually took place, despite the possibility of having different probabilities, the probability is not conserved or else played no part. But that isn’t so. The probabilities are conserved, and the many world formed conserve it. (You can know how by reading the book, c’mon I cannot take that pleasure and euphoria away from you!)¬†

Imagine the grandeur of this theory. Every decision you made, you actually chose all the options, just in separate universes. That means, there is one Universe out there where you are making all the right decisions, or the ones you wished you made, jealous? Every time you are faced with options/probability the world splits. Well, not exactly splitting, the probability waves associated with the two different options/events decohere from each other,and so once there is decoherence between the waves, there is no way for them to interact, and thus two independent new worlds are formed. This is not a problem in an infinite space, no matter how much you divide it, remove it, it remains infinite. Don’t be sad, if you made a decision to go and propose your crush, in one of universes you did go to her and she said yes (YAYY!). But I personally think, that even if this theory is right, it might have certain restrictions on the kind of decisions this many world theory allows, perhaps the example I gave, might be wrong, perhaps not. Perhaps the theory allows for decisions that have tendency to become improbable again after observation once the observer goes away, like the position of a particle. Nevertheless, the theory will keep me thinking for many, many days to come, and so I hope for you too. Let’s not be too reserved, have an open mind no matter how impossible something sounds. Lord Kelvin said the planes ‘heavier than air’ were impossible. It was said radio had no future. Atom bombs were called impossible and so was the concept of travelling to space-rockets. In an infinite space, the chances of many universes is possible, each might be infinite itself (Some infinities are greater than other, as proven), and that includes the possibility of this theory to be true. Since there is a possibility, it is not impossible. Happy Reading!

Next Part Of This Post: Reality Check (2/2) : The Reality of ‘Reality’

PS: Do read the book to know more about the story behind this theory, and many others.

-The Cosmogasmic Person.


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