Hello kiddies – it’s madness time!
Don’t worry – these are just idle thoughts. I’m not going over the hill into the twilight zone.
The science madness
A number of ideas in recent (last 100 years) physics revolve around the idea that there are multiple universes, or that the same universe keeps splitting into separate universes every time a quantum decision must be made.
As far as I know, these ideas are not testable, but a lot of physicists think that a multi-verse is the simplest solution to a lot of questions, and as Occam’s Razor says, the simplest solution is usually the right one.
The idea that’s bandied about most often is that the universe splits every time a choice is made, so that both choices actually happen – one in one universe, and the other in another universe.
This has the effect that every possible configuration of the universe’s contents exists at some point. In other words, “in an infinite universe, anything is possible“.
What this means, is that at any point in your life where you had to make a decision – get on the plane, talk to the girl, take the job – a version of you exists for every possible decision.
Personally, I don’t believe that the universe splits at each decision – it seems a bit silly. But, I do believe that in infinite time and space, if the “big bang” can happen once, it can happen again, and each time, it just has to be the tiniest bit different, so in effect, there is a universe somewhere for every single moment of this one’s existence, which differs in just one respect. A consequence of this is that even if the universe doesn’t physically divide at each decision, a universe exists for each decision anyway, so it’s as if it happened anyway.
What is you?
In a lot of those universes, a version of you exists. For all purposes, it is you. It has your memories, is built of exactly the same molecules, and lives in a world exactly like yours.
You can ignore all of the universes that don’t have a you in them (and there are an infinite number of those!), because if you paraphrase the anthropic principle, you realise that they really don’t matter – the only universes you could ever experience are those that you exist in (history is written by the victors. In other words, your present you is only possible because all of the failed “you”s are dead and therefore can be written out of history).
In each of these universes, you had a load of different experiences – you lived, died, were rich, poor, etc., which is interesting to think about intellectually (Remember all those times that you wish you’d done something different? Well, you did in at least one other universe.), but not very useful to dwell on, because that’s them, and you’re more interested in you.
I’m writing this post because I’ve survived some interesting things in the past – self-harming during my late teens, standing on the edge of a 5-storey building pissing off the edge while totally drunk, all the narrow misses while skateboarding, getting beaten to a pulp a number of times, breaking my skull when I was 2.
Every one of those events had an alternative where things went the other way. But I’m here right now, which means that in this universe, I’ve survived.
The fact that you’re reading this is very interesting. You have survived all of the events of your past, and have gotten to this point.
What is “you”? The grammar-nazi in me complains about that sentence, but I mean it that way.
“You” is the sum of experiences that makes up your identity – your “soul”.
Here’s an interesting question: when you go to sleep at night, and you don’t dream, there are a few hours during which you are essentially dead to the world. What if you were transported at this point to another universe during those hours which was exactly the same – when you woke up, it would be as if you simply continued living from the previous day in the previous universe and you would be none-the-wiser.
The multi-verse idea says that this happens all the time, that every moment that you experience could very possibly be in a totally different universe that has been rebuilt from scratch.
Now we get to the freaky shit.
What if an accident were to happen right now – a meteorite drops through your ceiling, or a microwave explodes, or your partner slips in the middle of knitting and impales you.
In some universes, you would die, and in some, the event would be narrowly missed (and in some, not occur at all).
The important thing to note is that the only “you” that would experience the event is the “you” that survived. You may be damaged by the event, but you would survive and live another day (otherwise, you would not, and that universe can be ignored).
Please dwell on that thought – the only possible you that is reading this article is a you that has survived all previous experiences, but as a consequence of this crazy logic, you will also survive all future events as well.
Let’s look at the logic again:
- There are an infinite number of universes.
- There are an infinite number of universes that have “you”s living in them.
- Every time there is the slightest chance that you would survive an event, there are an infinite number of universes in which you do survive that event.
A very weird consequence of this is that you, the you that is reading this, will never die. Every time an event happens that might lead to your death – a choice you made, a decision someone else made, a natural accident – there are infinite universes in which that event does not happen, and so “you” survive.
No-one else, though
Unfortunately, because of the probabilistic nature of physics, everyone else will die in time. Yes, there are an infinite number of universes in which your loved ones will survive with you, which there are many “bigger” infinities in which they die, and those win out.
This is another mind-bender, because it makes everything very subjective.
From my point of view, I am immortal, and you will eventually die, but that’s because my own experience leads me through a different set of infinities where I am the immortal one.
Every other person that exists has their own set of infinities as well that leads them to immortality.
Well – that’s my moment of madness concluded for today.
In short – shit will happen, but you’ll get over it, a million million times over the next load of centuries.