Sunday, October 24, 2010

Parallel Universes Followup

Dear everyone who is still e-mailing me about this: I am not "forgetting" the idea of infinite parallel universes.  I made a long comment in response to one of my earlier posts that really should be it's own blog post, and I'm posting it here. I've bolded where I start talking about "infinite".


My argument is that if there is no randomized component, then the decision is going to based on a variety of factors that we are not even conscious of, including biological, environmental, hormonal, etc.

If that is true and no randomization is occurring, then the outcome of person X being presented with Y cereal boxes under condition Z is going to be constant. The creation of an alternate outcome would be dependent on at least one variable being modified, hence why I consider a lack of genuine randomization a big deal.

To put it another way, if every effect has a cause, what cause exists for them to ultimately choose one cereal over another? One does not walk up to 5 boxes of cereal and walk away with one out of the five with no reason at all behind it. Even if they're totally apathetic and just grabbed a box without looking, their behavior still follows a series of causes and effects that could be tracked and predicted if one had all the information and the means to process it.

I also consider the idea of alternate universes being created as a result of every decision to be somewhat self-aggrandizing. I just held up my hand and chose not to snap my fingers. I find the claim that I just split the universe in twain by doing so a bit ridiculous.

As for 'infinite'. I know what it means. A problem here is that 'infinite' has multiple definitions, and one can argue which term applies to 'infinite' multiple universes. I'm willing to accept this one:

"Immeasurably great" - the number of alternate universes, should they exist, are beyond our ability to measure. The exponential creation of these universes is also beyond our ability to measure. The number is so vast and growing that mankind would be wiped out by the death of the sun before finishing saying what would be a long-outdated number of universes.

Going by this definition, every POSSIBLE universe could exist. Jon Stewart could exist in many different continuities, but he would not be in all of them, nor would we all be in all universes. It would be a cosmically huge mix and match scenario.

This one, however, I am less willing to accept:

"Unbounded or unlimited; boundless; endless" - This implies every universe, possible or not, exists. Under this definition, a universe where the world blew up during the American civil war, was reconstructed by industrious space beavers, and ultimately resulted in an exact copy of the world as we know now, except every five seconds we all freeze, then unfreeze without realizing it, exists.

Now, for all I know, that universe TOTALLY EXISTS, and that would be super cool. However, even if countless universes exists, I don't think that one does. I can't prove it either way, so it's just an opinion, but it's one I think logic has the back of.

In short, I'm actually pretty open to the idea of the first definition being true if there is actually a multiverse, and short of seeing documentation proving otherwise, I'm assuming "immeasurably great" is what quantum theorists are saying.

The second one, however, where any reality can exist for no reason, just seems silly to me. It's not something I'm going to accept has sensible from anyone without solid proof.

Also, of course I think I'm right. I wouldn't be saying this stuff if I didn't think I was. It would be pretty cool if I was wrong, but I haven't heard anything that sounds like definitive proof of that yet. If definitive proof is found, however, I'll probably tweet something along the lines of "cool!" followed by a link to a news post about it ^^;


I would also like to point out to anyone who is annoyed by my statement "nothing is random" that I am equally annoyed by people saying "there are an infinite number of universes" as though they were saying "the sky is blue". A lot of people say it like it's an indisputable fact that's been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. It hasn't been.

I can't prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that nothing is random. It's impossible; all it would take would be one provable random event to disprove my assertion. As such, it's a belief, not a scientific fact.

Infinite universes hasn't been proven, either. For all we know, we're it. There's evidence and hypothesis's that support there being more, but until there's solid, indisputable proof that there's even just one other one (such as by, say, actually making contact with another universe), that too is a belief.

I'll make everyone out there is a deal. I won't claim nothing is truly random is scientific truth if you won't claim there are infinite universes as scientific truth. At this point, they are both beliefs. They are beliefs with foundations in science and reasoning, but beliefs nonetheless.


  1. >all it would take would be one provable random event to
    >disprove my assertion.

    What constitutes a "provable random event"? That is really important to define if you want it to be disprovable.

  2. Actually, your statement saying nothing is random is backed up very heavily by physics. Physics is based on cause and effect, with traceable interactions backwards from the end result to the conditions than instigated it.

    In quantum physics however, the theories that are made valid not from proof, but from lack of contradictory evidence would tend to support both of the arguments regarding infinite universes. It cannot be proven either way, but as they both explain the world as we know it, neither is more or less valid.

    Unfortunately I both agree and disagree with you.

  3. I think I mentioned it somewhere in a previous comment. I'm REALLY not interested in discussing it. I'm open to the possibility of being wrong about all these things and would actually find that pretty cool if I was, but I've discussed the theoretical enough to be going in circles now. I'll be interested in discussing it again if and when there's exciting, solid new evidence.

    The only reason I posted this was because people were still e-mailing me responses to previous posts without seeing this comment and I wanted to increase the likelihood of them seeing it prior to e-mailing me.

    I'm aware posting this is like an invitation for people to talk about it again, and that's fine, but I'm not interested in participating. This is me saying "short of new and exciting proof, I have had my fill of discussing this. I have heard the arguments, my opinion has not changed, and my involvement is not worth any of our time unless there is something new."

  4. There is one experiment that can differentiate between the Many Worlds and Copenhagen interpretations of quantum mechanics: Quantum Suicide. That is, if there are many worlds, you can put yourself in Schrodinger's cat's place an infinite number of times, and you'll never experience your own demise. Unfortunately, only the one in the box, with their life on the line can observe these results. Anyone outside the box would still observe you dying in fifty-percent of the experiments.


    What if I believe there are fewer than one universe? What if I believe my existence to be a transient illusion, free of any correspondence to an external physical reality? Perhaps the extent of all existence is my perception of this one single moment....

    I made the mistake of taking a philosophy of science class, and now I can barely believe anything anymore.

  5. I think that an infinite number of universes is not possible, because there is not an infinite number of possibilites; there is merely an exponential one. However, if there are other universes, then there probably is a universe for every last possible event in the universe, which still is not infinite: only exponential.

    I also think that nothing is random, and yet everything is random. Everything is based on cause and effect, and would be constant if played out over and over again, but the fact that the effect exists at all, and exactly what the effect is, is determined by random chance. Though perhaps "random chance" is not the best way to explain it, since it's non-random chance. So I'm either agreeing AND disagreeing with you, or I'm agreeing and adding to your explanation. I'm not sure which, but I'm leaning towards the latter.

  6. Actually, I would love to point out the notion that "nothing is random" is a outdated scientific belief. It has not been valid since Cantor went insane trying to prove that belief.

    Coincidentally, what Cantor was looking specifically was to understand the universe, and thus God as he can best know.

    Cantor was researching Infinity.

    Some say he disproved God. I say he proved a god exists, but not one people of any rationale believe to be true. That which is dead but dreaming, waiting for even death to die.

  7. Waaaay late to the party here, but here's my personal belief of the multiverse.

    Everything is true. It may not be true here, but somewhere, everything is true.

    The multiverse survives because of paradox. If anything is possible, that means nothing is also possible. While there may or may not be a truly infinite number, all it takes for there to be a difference is a single sub-sub-sub-atomic particle to be in a different position for there to be a new universe. Heck, it doesn't even have to be a physical change...Time itself could flow differently. There could be a universe exactly like ours, only 20 seconds ahead of us.

    Since everything and nothing is possible, that includes the fact there's a multiverse at all.

    I imagine the multiverse as an immeasurably large torus, with each universe being an immeasurably small 'slice' of that torus, with the changes getting more pronounced the further you go from your 'starting point'. The furthest you can go from your starting point is a metaphorical 90 degrees either direction. At the direct 'opposite point' on this imaginary torus, everything you know is wrong. Everything is the exact opposite. This doesn't mean time runs backwards like that Red Dwarf episode. This means you have to start wondering things like "What is the opposite of a bicycle?" and "If death is the absence of life, what is the opposite of life?".

    I also personally think that we wind our way through the many related universes every moment of every day on a path that is pre-determined for this particular instance of us. A form of predestiny. We can get glimpses of them from time to time, but because of the immeasurably large pool, the further in advance we see, the less likely it is to happen in that exact manner. Predestiny coupled with chaos theory. It's impossible to know what your personal future is going to be like, so there's no point in thinking about it; just go about your business as normal.

    That means that if you traveled through time, *your personal* path through the multiverse went to a time-shifted version of your original universe. When you came back, you'd be in a different one from where you left, depending on if your time travel is Doctor Who, Bill and Ted, or Back To The Future style (Or any number of others)

    Naturally, in an immeasurably large number of universes, there's an immeasurably large number of universes where I'm 100% wrong. Also an immeasurably large number of universes where I'm 100% correct.

    Ah, paradox.