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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Everything That Can Happen...Does Happen

The parallel universe theory (or the idea of a "multi-verse") has always fascinated me. Maybe because it provides a little hope (there's a universe where everything is much, much better), and feeds a little morbid curiosity (there's a universe where things are much, much worse) at the same time. Now we have further evidence that the theory may be true according to a study at Oxford University:
Parallel Universes Exist Says Mathematical Study

Parallel universes really do exist, according to a mathematical discovery by Oxford scientists described by one expert as "one of the most important developments in the history of science".

The parallel universe theory, first proposed in 1950 by the US physicist Hugh Everett, helps explain mysteries of quantum mechanics that have baffled scientists for decades, it is claimed.

In Everett's "many worlds" universe, every time a new physical possibility is explored, the universe splits. Given a number of possible alternative outcomes, each one is played out - in its own universe.

A motorist who has a near miss, for instance, might feel relieved at his lucky escape. But in a parallel universe, another version of the same driver will have been killed. Yet another universe will see the motorist recover after treatment in hospital. The number of alternative scenarios is endless.
According to quantum mechanics, nothing at the subatomic scale can really be said to exist until it is observed. Until then, particles occupy nebulous "superposition" states, in which they can have simultaneous "up" and "down" spins, or appear to be in different places at the same time.

Observation appears to "nail down" a particular state of reality, in the same way as a spinning coin can only be said to be in a "heads" or "tails" state once it is caught.

According to quantum mechanics, unobserved particles are described by "wave functions" representing a set of multiple "probable" states. When an observer makes a measurement, the particle then settles down into one of these multiple options.
So that means there's a universe out there where Jerry O'Connell came to his senses and realized we're meant to be together. Of course there's also one out there where I'm dead...or worse. Hmmm... I think I'll stick with the universe I've got.

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