Sunday, 17 June 2018
I recently finished reading Max Tegmark's excellent book, "Our Mathematical Universe". As I'd encountered some of the main ideas in this book several years ago, the first half of the book was fairly easy, if exhilirating, going. After that it got considerably harder, though still very exciting.
Among many ideas the book presents, the one that interested me enough to write this post is the possibility that our universe is infinite. Only a finite part of this makes up our visible universe. Beyond that are an infinite number of volumes of space the same size, say, as our visible universe, but each different. We can therefore think of them as a Multiverse of parallel universes; parallel in the sense that we could never travel between them because of the incredible distances between them.
A consequence of this is that everything that could conceivably happen, will (must) happen somewhere in the Multiverse. Possibly very, very far away from Planet Earth, but happening all the same.
Obviously my first thought was about all the universes where my life is slightly different to the one I'm actually experiencing, followed closely by thoughts about the universes where it's substantially different, and considerably improved.
Coming down from that ego trip, it occurred to me that there's a similarity between this Multiverse and the computer animation used to make special effects in film production. That technology has now reached the point where anything that can be imagined, can also be rendered on the screen. (Admittedly, not without a considerable expenditure of time and effort, much of which involves the writers communicating their ideas to the people who do the special effects.)
In the Multiverse, unless I've misunderstood this, anything I can conceive of must be happening in some universe.
Staying with the CGI analogy (and reflecting how many superhero films I've watched in recent years), there will be universes where superheroes exist. And the best part is, they won't need any super powers.
For instance, we can imagine a universe where some individual believes they have the power to read minds. In reality they're just guessing, but completely by accident they always guess correctly. Massively unlikely in any single universe, but inevitable in a Multiverse. Similarly, there will be universes where someone believes they have the power of thought control, and completely by chance, every time they give a command, the victim was going to do that anyway.
Here's another one: a person thinks they have X-Ray vision, because whenever they try to use this power, random electrical signals in their optic nerves generate exactly the right images in their minds as if they really were seeing through walls.
Like the Multiverse itself, the possibilities are endless.