Understanding quantum physics and multi-universe
To understand how the theory of parallel universes first came about, we have to first understand what quantum physics is.
Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
Physicists observed that, on the quantum level, photons which are tiny packets of light could act like a single particle and wave both at the same time. A single-photon exhibits properties of what we would expect from a particle and that of a wave.
There’s a line in Greg Bear’s fantasy duology (The Infinity Concerto and The Serpent Mage), where a character describing the basics of magic says “All is waves, with nothing waving, over no distance at all.”
This gave rise to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, named after a physicist Werner Heisenberg who proposed that the nature of a quantum object or its attributes like velocity and precise location is never deterministic. There is no precise classification for their properties because a quantum object can exist in all of its possible states at once.
The combination of all these possible states that a quantum object can possibly exist sums up to something called its wave function. And the state of this object is known to be in superposition.
A Danish physicist Niel Bohr then goes on to say that our action of observing a quantum object forces the object to choose to exist in one of the many possible states from its wave function. In other words, different measurements taken of the same quantum object will result in us seeing the object behaving as different states.
One question that may come to mind here is, why is the act of observation or measurement carried out by humans so powerful? What makes us so special to be able to force a quantum object to be deterministic in its’ state?
Hang on a minute, aren’t we quantum objects too?
This then leads to the idea of a multiverse.
For a greater understanding of the theory proposed by Bohr, check out this cat example written by another medium contributor:
This idea behind quantum physics was then extended to the theory of a many-worlds theory by another physicist named Hugh Everett. Everett agreed with all of the findings that his predecessors had discovered except for the point made in that making measurement of a quantum object forces the quantum object to exist in one single state.
Instead, he proposes that when a measurement is taken, it forces an actual split in the quantum object which results in a new universe being duplicated to accommodate each of the possible outcomes. In contrast to the theory made by Bohr whereby the observer (human) has the power to force the quantum object to choose to exist one state, here the observer together with the quantum object are being duplicated in an entirely new universe. This explains why we only ever see one specific outcome. So a scientist in one universe finds that the object has been measured in a waveform. The same scientist in another universe finds the object to be in a particle form.
This interpretation means that in the billions and gazillions or the infinite number of decisions made every day, new universes are being spawned for each of these decisions. There could be a duplicate of every one of us, living a life that resulted from the different decisions that we all make during our lifetime.
Sounds inconceivable, right?
Can the theory of parallel universe be the key to ensuring the continuity of mankind?
Elon Musk has famously pushed for humans to become a multi-planetary species to prepare for the day where humans might need to inhabit other planets in the event that Earth becomes inhabitable. Would it then be possible for us to travel to another Earth and lead our lives in a parallel universe where Earth is still preserved when disaster strikes our planet Earth?
Wait..travel to another Earth and co-exist with our human clones? Would it even be possible? Might this lead to the problem of over-population on the new planet? And how are we going to explain to our clones the theory of the parallel universe and how we came to arrive at their planets and somehow convince them to take us in? In the first place, how would we even know which parallel universe to choose and which direction to head towards? How would we know in advance of the occurrence of such destructive events? By the time we know that Earth is about to become inhabitable, it would have been too late as we would have been destroyed in the process. Even if we knew these events in advance, would we even have ample time to transport everyone in the world there? Or would it be reserved for the exclusive rich and well-connected individuals?
I am not too sure of the technicalities on how space travel to a parallel universe might work but the above are some questions I have in discussing the validity of such an escape plan. Assuming that humans are able to come up with new technologies that will allow us to pursue the idea of space travel to a parallel universe and those parallel universes do exist, I am personally doubtful that this idea of evacuation from planet Earth can happen. Especially in the world we live in where everything is unpredictable and nothing is known for certain.
What is my identity then, if I can possibly exist in multiple universes?
If Quantum physics suggests that there could possibly be many clones of myself out there in a parallel universe, then who am I? Is my identity tied to solely the current instance that I am aware of? Or is it tied to all of the other instances where I exist in all the other parallel universes? What is my human consciousness? Does the human spirit exist then?
It is a bit mindblowing and beyond my personal capacity to answer those questions. After all, I myself as a 21-year-old is still figuring out who I am and what my life calling should be in the current planet Earth I live in. Perhaps these are questions that cannot be explained by human theoretical deductions arising from scientific discoveries.
I am neither a physicist nor do I know a lot about the world of physics. In fact, I only learned physics up until at the A’ Levels. However, the quantum physics theories behind a parallel universe intrigue me.
With regards to whether I believe in the existence of a parallel universe, I would say 50%. There could also be something about Quantum physics that we might not have fully understood. Even though mathematical proofs supporting this theory may be verified as correct, there is no 100% certainty. At least not until humans successfully find visual evidence of a parallel universe and this would involve actually stepping foot on another planet earth or sending a robot there on a mission (Imagine how many more new universes would be spawned off in this process).
I also think that in life, there are some questions and answers that might be beyond the human brain’s prowess to accept. Just like how despite having existed for almost as long as mankind, we do not expect a tiger to suddenly comprehend or master the art of using fire to cook its’ meat so that it can taste better, similarly there could exist some ideas that are beyond our human capacity to understand. Our brains might just not have been formulated with the right ingredients to arrive at a state of enlightenment where suddenly everything clicks and falls into place. Hence, despite our best attempts at conducting research and holding intensive discussions, we might never be able to fully understand everything we know about the world.
Given all these, the universe that I am living in right now seems real to me. Does it really matter to me that there might or might not be an infinite number of clones of myself out there in the other universes? On a personal level, not so much. It is always important to be able to live in the moment and appreciate what I have. Right now, my primary goal is to lead the best life I can, learn new knowledge, be a better person than I was yesterday, and hopefully be able to find a career that excites and spurs me to wake up every day feeling motivated. It doesn’t matter too much if there are clones of me in other universes as long as I put my best foot forward in this instance of the universe that I am consciously aware of.
On a higher level, I think that it is a great effort by mankind to understand the mechanics of the universe and try to figure out how life came about. Whether we will eventually come to a complete understanding of the universe remains a question for now. Regardless, it is the journey towards accumulating new wisdom and scientific discoveries that matters rather than the conclusion we are able to arrive at. As long as we continue to strive and invest our time and energy to satisfy our thirst for new knowledge about the universe, it is good enough.