When I first heard about the concept of parallel universes, I laughed. This was the stuff of science fiction, and I was expected to take it seriously? Yet I respected the source and decided to find out more., Fact, it turns out, is truly stranger than fiction.
Quantum physics: the birth of parallel universes
Quantum physics turned everything we knew about the physical world upside down. Most of us can handle thinking in three dimensions. Some manage to grasp the fourth dimension of time. Get this – scientists today are thinking in eleven dimensions!
Many scientists now believe that our universe is a bubble floating in a sea of bubbles. Each bubble is a a parallel universe. So what exactly is a parallel universe? And why does this matter for our happiness?
Heisenberg: The outcome you see is not really there
The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle states that the very act of observing quantum matter affects the behaviour of that matter. This means that the moment you see something, it is not there anymore.
Think about reality TV. When people know they are being observed, their behaviour is affected. So we never observe anything in its natural form, because our very act of observing it changes its behaviour.
Bohr: Any outcome you see is always there
Nobel-winning physicist Niels Bohr interpreted the uncertainty principle differently. His Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics states that quantum particles don’t exist in one state or another, but in all their possible states at once.
So instead of reality TV, we live in a computer game. All the possible scenarios in the game are already programmed into it. Although you see only one outcome when you play, all the other outcomes are there as well. And other players are living those other outcomes right now.
Everett: all outcomes exist at the same time
Princeton mathematician Hugh Everett went even further. He stated that when we attempt to measure an outcome, we actually split the universe into all the possible outcomes. Every action creates all possible consequences of that action. And each consequence happens in a different universe. And thus the Many Worlds theory was born.
Consider military scenario planning, where all possible outcomes are planned for at the same time. On paper and in our minds, all those different outcomes already exist.
Parallel universes: what does it mean for us?
This means that your past decision whether to become a lawyer or doctor resulted in you being both. You are a lawyer in one universe, and a doctor in another. But the ‘you’ you know only lives in one of those universes. You are not aware of the ‘you’ in the other universe.
Also, if you contemplated death as a possible outcome in any decision, then you are already dead in some other universe. Mind boggling, huh?
I don’t know about your reaction to all this, but I found it incredibly liberating. If the theory is true, it means that:
1. Regret is not necessary
Sometimes I wistfully wonder what life would have been like if I’d become a lawyer or doctor, or married young and had 4 kids. Well, I am already all these things in some other universes! I just don’t know it because I’m in this universe. So I am already everything I ever wanted to be. How cool is that?
2. Death loses its sting
When my dad passed away, I wondered if he would have lived longer if he had done things differently: drunk less alcohol, eaten healthily, taken more supplements. Parallel universes mean that somewhere in another universe, he may have made better health choices. And so he is still alive in that universe. Maybe heaven is just a parallel universe.
3. Decisions become easier
If every possible outcome already exists, it doesn’t matter what I choose. Because I will experience them all in different parallel universes. I don’t have to worry about making the ‘wrong’ choice.
4. We can live more fully
I can finally stop wondering what life would have been like if I’d started my own business and become a billionaire at the age of 30. I’m already living that dream somewhere else. Right now, right here, I’m living another dream and can focus on living this one really well.