Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Welcome to the Multiverse

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One of the things I enjoyed most about Star Trek: The Original Series was the frequency and ease with which Kirk's crew could pass in and out of parallel universes. And even though the alternate planes always looked suspiciously similar to the original ones (with the exception of Mr. Spock's sexy new goatee), the idea was fascinating.

Could there be an infinite array of parallel worlds flanking our own? There are many hypotheses centering around this idea, including the multi-dimensional extension of string theory known as M-theory (a perplexing description of which can be found here).

But my favorite has always been the Many Worlds interpretation most closely described in Star Trek itself (or if you prefer thought experiments, Schrodinger's cat.) Simply put, for every situation in which multiple possible outcomes could occur, different universes exist in which every possible outcome has occurred. For example, if you were to roll a die and it came up 1, according to MWI it showed up as 2 through 6 in five parallel universes.

This is, of course, a bit oversimplified. But the implications are really cool. If you were to walk out into the street and get hit by a bus tomorrow morning, who's to say that alternate universe version of you didn't miss it by a hair?

That said, I'd still recommend you stick to the crosswalks.

- Brit Trogen

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