Friday, August 19, 2016
Parallel worlds exist and interact with our world, say physicists
New theory explains many of the bizarre observations made in quantum mechanics.
(from Mother Nature Network)
Do parallel worlds ever cross paths?
Quantum mechanics, though firmly tested, is so weird and anti-intuitive that famed physicist Richard Feynman once remarked, "I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics." Attempts to explain some of the bizarre consequences of quantum theory have led to some mind-bending ideas, such as the Copenhagen interpretation and the many-worlds interpretation.
Now there's a new theory on the block, called the "many interacting worlds" hypothesis (MIW), and the idea is just as profound as it sounds. The theory suggests not only that parallel worlds exist, but that they interact with our world on the quantum level and are thus detectable. Though still speculative, the theory may help to finally explain some of the bizarre consequences inherent in quantum mechanics, reports RT.com.
The theory is a spinoff of the many-worlds interpretation in quantum mechanics — an idea that posits that all possible alternative histories and futures are real, each representing an actual, though parallel, world. One problem with the many-worlds interpretation, however, has been that it is fundamentally untestable, since observations can only be made in our world. Happenings in these proposed "parallel" worlds can thus only be imagined.
MIW, however, says otherwise. It suggests that parallel worlds can interact on the quantum level, and in fact that they do.
"The idea of parallel universes in quantum mechanics has been around since 1957," explained Howard Wiseman, a physicist at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, and one of the physicists to come up with MIW. "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 realised – in some universes the dinosaur-killing asteroid missed Earth. In others, Australia was colonised by the Portuguese."
"But critics question the reality of these other universes, since they do not influence our universe at all," he added. "On this score, our "Many Interacting Worlds" approach is completely different, as its name implies."
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.
For instance, when asked about whether their theory might entail the possibility that humans could someday interact with other worlds, Wiseman said: "It's not part of our theory. But the idea of [human] interactions with other universes is no longer pure fantasy."
What might your life look like if you made different choices? Maybe one day you'll be able to look into one of these alternative worlds and find out.
This theory reminds me of the famous Robert Frost poem:
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Note: I can easily deal with the notion that one must often choose between two (or a few more) possibilities in one's life. However, I think it would be dreadfully confusing if each branch split into many other branches and so forth until the whole would be a mishmash of lines, none clear or distinct, a great glob of possibilities. For me this theory smacks of science fantasy, not fact (though possibly it might be somewhat true, if there were only a few universes parallel to our own.)
(image from internet)