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Math Space

There Is No "You" In a Parallel Universe 226

StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "Ever since quantum mechanics first came along, we've recognized how tenuous our perception of reality is, and how — in many ways — what we perceive is just a very small subset of what's going on at the quantum level in our Universe. Then, along came cosmic inflation, teaching us that our observable Universe is just a tiny, tiny fraction of the matter-and-radiation filled space out there, with possibilities including Universes with different fundamental laws and constants, differing quantum outcomes existing in disconnected regions of space, and even the fantastic one of parallel Universes and alternate versions of you and me. But is that last one really admissible? The best modern evidence teaches us that even with all the Universes that inflation creates, it's still a finite number, and an insufficiently large number to contain all the possibilities that a 13.8 billion year old Universe with 10^90 particles admits."
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There Is No "You" In a Parallel Universe

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  • Except inflation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 30, 2015 @10:11PM (#48944261)

    has nothing to do with "parallel" universes...

    • Re:Except inflation (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tysonedwards ( 969693 ) on Friday January 30, 2015 @10:48PM (#48944423)
      Except, it does... Inflation dictates the spatial dimensions occupied by the observable universe and distribution of matter within it. If said inflation occurred differently even in what could be described as the most insignificant value, than matter distribution could be dramatically different than what we see today in our observable universe. Different matter distributions == a universe in which said parallel universe which is inherently different than what we see around us.

      However, at the same point it may as well be saying that within the multiverse where an infinite number of other universes exist, it is more plausible that there will be universes that are not like our own than there are those that are like our own as fundamental laws regarding the creation of said universes need not be identical, preventing the creation of sufficiently similar natural systems; ergo, the Goldilocks Principle.
      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        In other words, even though in the future there is a Spok in a mirror universe, that Spok will wear a goatee, and was thus will not the same as the Spok from our universe will be. That also means that that mirror universe isn't a mirror after all. Since when do you look in the mirror and see a goatee, even after you shave yourself?

      • by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Saturday January 31, 2015 @02:10AM (#48945117) Journal

        Different matter distributions == a universe in which said parallel universe which is inherently different than what we see around us.

        I think there is some confusion over what "parallel" universe means. This is generally taken to be a universe which has been an exact parallel of our own universe up to some point after which it diverges i.e. everything is the same up to some point in time. In the quantum multiverse interpretation of QM this happens for each possible result of collapsing the wave function.

        I've never heard of this ever being associated with multiple 'universes' from inflation because QM requires that the universes interact before they separate (this is how it explains the self interference of a single particle) whereas inflation requires that the universes be causally disconnected after their creation i.e. inflationary universes are just different universes, not parallel ones. So I think the author of the article got himself rather confused.

        • by tysonedwards ( 969693 ) on Saturday January 31, 2015 @04:54AM (#48945509)
          Agreed, and it is an unusual concept to mull over hence the article. The vernacular used is theirs, throwing out that the multiverse isn't composed of mostly identical copies of our universe spawned via wave function collapses, or in another incarnation completely separate universes that are identical until a wave function collapse at which point there is a divergence, or any number of similar theories. It is a fascinating concept, and in and of itself does not preclude the possibilities of conventional "parallel" / "mirror" universes, it simply implies that out of any like universe, there may be trillions that are completely unlike ours in every sense of the word.
      • Except, it does... Inflation dictates the spatial dimensions occupied by the observable universe and distribution of matter within it.

        Inflation does no such thing!! It is ridiculous to even suggest that the most convenient hypothesis thus imaginable, twisted and dressed to match an anthropomorphic observation, from an anthropomorphic vantage point, that is only part of a model within the current accepted paradigm has any authority over long past events, if they even occurred, or any authority whatsoever over the Universe, other than to help deny other ideas and hypothesis from surfacing for mere consideration that do not fit within the ac

      • by jonfr ( 888673 )

        Universes expand into them self. Plenty of room there and for all other universes out there. They must have made a error in there math, or the idea is just plain wrong they got.

    • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Friday January 30, 2015 @11:16PM (#48944553)

      Well, it kind of does, depending on exactly how you define the term. One of the implications of inflation theory is that the original superluminal inflation is still going on, and will always be going on, and what we consider to be "the universe" is but one tiny bubble of "stabilized" space that decayed from the inflationary energy, and is presumably surrounded by a nigh-infinite number of other bubbles with different physical laws that will never interact with each other because the space between them is still full of self-replicating inflationary energy expanding faster than light, and which is perpetually spawning still more bubbles as the false-vacuum spontaneously decays into lower-energy states to trigger a chain reaction. You could easily consider every one of those other "bubbleverses" to be a parallel universe, with it's own physical laws and causality that will never intersect our own.

      Of course that has absolutely nothing to do with the sort of parallel universes posited by the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, which absolutely would spawn a potential infinitude of "other yous" with every quantum "decision". And neither has anything to do with the third major posited type of parallel universe which stipulates that our universe is a 4-dimensional membrane existing in within the 11+ dimensional metaverse posited by many QM theories, and that other membranes likely also exist, and may occasionally collide with our own, causing "big bangs" from the release of energy on impact.

      Any one of those, or even all three, might exist, but so far as I know only the first is a necessary implication of currently accepted cosmological theory, and thus it has sort of inherited the "parallel universe" crown.

      • Thank you for taking the words out of my mouth and turning my intended incoherent babble into such a well written rebuttal of the claim in question. You, sir, have the gift of communication.
      • by pspahn ( 1175617 ) on Saturday January 31, 2015 @04:11AM (#48945413)

        Mr. Nobody.

        It's a great film. All those pointless decisions that get made that shape the things around us and, in turn, the world for ever. Just imagine, had that nomadic hunter-gatherer ancestor of yours decided to head back out to hunt rather than go home, you, and everyone in your lineage, would fail to exist.

        In that moment when that ancestor was deciding which way to go, everything was possible.

  • like the universe does, doesn't it?
  • Parallel (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Livius ( 318358 ) on Friday January 30, 2015 @10:13PM (#48944275)

    Those universes aren't what people usually mean by 'parallel'. Usually they're thinking of a universe which at some point in the past was identical to this one.

    These orthogonal universes obviously aren't going to have duplicates of anything here.

    • Strange, I always thought parallel universe meant it is another universe that is parallel to our own on a three dimensional plane. Or in other words, if our universe could be represented by a piece of paper, then another piece of paper laying on top of it is a parallel piece of paper, and where they physically converge with one another manifests as a sphere (like a black hole) similar to how if you were to poke a hole in a piece of paper, then a two dimensional being living in that paper would see a big emp

    • Re:Parallel (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Friday January 30, 2015 @11:54PM (#48944683)

      Nothing obvious about it. Presuming inflationary theory is correct, there will be a nigh-infinite number of other "bubbleverses" spawned within the perpetually expanding inflationary energy. Now, since in that model our own "bubbleverse" is finite, then if the the number of other bubbleverses was truly infinite then all possible bubbleverses would exist, including an infinite number of exact duplicates of our own (and every other) bubbleverse. However, if we instead presume that the inflationary energy is *not* infinite, then you must compare the number of potential bubbleverses with the same physical laws as our own to the number of potential states that such a bubbleverse could be in. If there are sufficiently more bubbleverses like our own then there are states in which our bubbleverse can be in, then by the pigeonhole principle there must by necessity be some bubbleverses that are near-perfect duplicates of our own - including being home to some "other you".

      As I understand it, current theory and observation suggests that the inflationary period began *after* the birth of the universe (multiverse?) 13.8 billion years ago, so that puts a hard upper limit on how much inflationary energy can exist in the "multiverse", and thus how many "bubbleverses" like ours could have been spawned within it. Presumably they did the calculations and determined that the number of possible bubbleverses like our own is radically less than the number of possible states our bubbleverse could be in, thus establishing that it is very unlikely that any near-duplicate universes exist.

      At least within that definition of parallel universe. There is of course also the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, as well as brane theory and it's ilk, which postulate two additional, and entirely different, kinds of parallel universe which may *also* exist. And the Many Worlds Interpretation at least would absolutely suggest the existence of a large number of near-identical universes - after all Schroedinger's poor cat would have to be discovered both alive and dead by alternate Schroedingers who didn't bifurcate until the experiment was performed.

      (As an interesting side consideration - would you get an alternate Schroedinger for every instant in which the istotope either did or did not decay? Or would the alternates consolidate as the particular instant of decay ceased to be relevant to the timeline?)

  • This is junk science (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TrollstonButterbeans ( 2914995 ) on Friday January 30, 2015 @10:17PM (#48944293)
    And the support for Big Bang style cosmic inflation (universe ballooning up from nothing in a trillionth of second) is sparse. (As opposed to the normal expanding universe we see that even old Steady State theory said existed.)

    If cosmic inflation happened, everything real far away should be in its infancy, but we see sprial galaxies 13 billion years away.

    Quasars are supposed to only be in the beginning of the universe in early times according to the Big Bang, and there are 2 of them within 800 million miles of us which should not even be possible. []

    So we have old structures very far away well-developed with plenty of metal, which shouldn't happen.

    We have "newer" structures nearby, which shouldn't happen.

    Add to the fact there are no metal-free stars (Pop III) ever seen, it is difficult to see what aspect of Big Bang Theory holds true. Astronomy might be better off if it were discarded because a number of the popular conclusions double-down on bad science and result in wild goose chases (dark energy only need exist to support the Big Bang because only the Big Bang says expansion must be accelerating.)
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why is this marked troll? I find it to be a valid statement. Just because someone doesn't agree with the prevailing theory doesn't mean they're trolling.

  • Prove it! (Score:3, Funny)

    by mschaffer ( 97223 ) on Friday January 30, 2015 @10:20PM (#48944311)

    Show me one other alternate universe. Is that so much to ask?

  • hmmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bloodhawk ( 813939 ) on Friday January 30, 2015 @10:52PM (#48944441)

    So now we are making predictions about speculations and guesses to say, there is no you in a parallel universe. Call me a skeptic but I would like a molecule of proof that such universes even exist before you start on speculations about what exists in them.

    • The existence of other universes is a theory, and even within that theory there is a limit to how many other universes exist, and thus there likely aren't enough permutations represented for there to exist a universe so incredibly similar to ours. I have no problem with people trying to reign in obviously wrong speculation even if the speculation is in regard to a theory.

    • by ljw1004 ( 764174 )

      If you have no idea what's in them, how would you even recognize evidence as evidence?

    • Assuming that the concept of the "multiverse" is indeed correct -- and presently, current scientific theories do point to a strong probability -- why would the other Universes be COPIES of this universe? Why wouldn't they be similar, yet different, such as cells in a body? Sure, cells may have all the fundamental parts in common, but the atoms and molecules that comprise them are entirely unique. You and I are frankly of no significance nor would there be even the slightest possibility of a copy or alterna
  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Friday January 30, 2015 @10:58PM (#48944463)

    Not saying that the parallel universe concept is correct but his argument just dismisses a particular type then states there aren't any.

  • by Megahard ( 1053072 ) on Friday January 30, 2015 @11:22PM (#48944573)

    Remember, if you meet anti-You, just bow, not shake hands.

  • If there was, then that means that free will means nothing and everything is determined by fate.
  • by RubberDogBone ( 851604 ) on Saturday January 31, 2015 @01:00AM (#48944873)

    This idea that every possible choice I make spawns a whole other universe where I made a different choice has always seemed ludicrous. This sort of thing implies that my choice of every word in this sentence causes a universe -a whole universe with planets and black holes and telemarketers and tofu- to pop into existence, just because I decided to use 'tofu' earlier instead of using "marmalade" or some other word.

    This means either the theory is wrong, or that causing a universe to exist is completely trivial and of no particular meaning. Which in turn implies that THIS universe that we live in is just a casual happenstance of some being's choice. Which means the big bang and everything else that we know and that every human being has ever known about anything is just absolute pap.

    That may be the case but it's easier to accept the theory is just wrong.

    • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

      This sort of thing implies that my choice of every word in this sentence causes a universe -a whole universe with planets and black holes and telemarketers and tofu- to pop into existence, just because I decided to use 'tofu' earlier instead of using "marmalade" or some other word.

      Yes, but it's less wasteful then it looks, because we use copy-on-write techniques to minimize overhead. That is, we store only the "root" universe, plus the tree of diffs necessary to reconstruct the various child universes as necessary.

      Which means the big bang and everything else that we know and that every human being has ever known about anything is just absolute pap.

      Hmm, sounds like an appeal to consequences []. I wouldn't worry though, chances are that everything is absolute pap regardless of whether this theory is true or false.

    • by sudon't ( 580652 )

      Of course it's ridiculous. I mean, what constitutes an event, or a choice? We always think of it in terms of people making choices, but surely every bacterium that wriggles this way instead of that, every mote of dust, every atom, every photon, would have its parallel universes of possibility. And possibilities are infinite for each. Not that these things aren't worth thinking about.

  • Just like any of the other interpretation of the measurement collapse (Copenhagen), it has no evidence speaking for it. It just an interpretation of what we see in the mathematical equations. There is some way one *might* go to test it but at the moment we have nothing but the math (and I have my doubt about the proposed experience but it is for another thread). It is fun to speculate on what the consequence of MWI, especially if you might stumble on a way to make it testable, but I wish people would stop
  • With the sheer magnitude of our little galaxy it is likely that many civilizations are running many computer simulations of the universe. So, who is to say what is real and what is simulated. Even the ones doing the simulations may exist in a computer simulation. The thing is you would "feel" as real in a programmed simulation as in a real Universe. With the size of the known Universe it is more likely that we exist in a simulation. It still doesn't change the fact that I have to go to work on Monday

  • TFA is basically a response to a talk on parallel universes given by Max Tegmark at the recent AAS conference. But it seems Ethan didn't read Max Tegmark's book (Our Mathematical Universe), because he only tries to address one of Tegmarks 4 levels of the Multiverse. The TLDR is that according to Tegmark the Multiverse is infinite, so there are other yous.

  • That said, we don’t know quite a few things about this inflationary state, and what this does is bring up a huge number of both uncertainties and also possibilities:

    Comes across as a disclaimer, can't prove him right or wrong, while allowing a lot of leeway.

  • We are just trying to describe and define it based on our consciousness and from what our senses can feel about it.
    And given our consciousness and our senses are themselves artifacts of the universe. I think we will never be able to understand and describe outside of the thin domain of our own being.

  • "even the fantastic one of parallel Universes and alternate versions of you and me. But is that last one really admissible? The best modern evidence teaches us that even with all the Universes that inflation creates, it's still a finite number"

    Why is a person that doesn't understand the difference between the terms "parallel" and "multiple" even writing an article on something they so clearly don't have the first clue about?

    • Why is it that they don't understand the meaning of the term "evidence" applied to "all the Universes that inflation creates" as if we actually have evidence that it creates more than a single one?

  • Seriously.

    a) We have no evidence that even one "parallel universe" exists.

    b) If "parallel universes" do exist, we don't really know what that means or what the overarching physical laws are that govern them, their distribution, their number because -- wait for it -- we have no evidence that even one parallel universe exists.

    c) So somebody makes up a theory that takes an interpretation of quantum mechanics (which does exist, or at least for which there is actual evidence), extends it by fiat to describe one

    • you are silly, we know from observation the observable universe is on the order of 10E-23 or less of all the universe.

      • We know no such thing. We make conditional inferences, and part of what they are conditional on is our incomplete understanding of field theory. We don't even know if there is truly dark matter and/or dark energy, or what they are or how they work. Our understanding of the big bang/inflation extends back (again, rather conditionally since any number of field theory variations would completely alter it) to 13.8 bya but is extremely fuzzy given that we can't "see" events any earlier than the end of the Gr

        • we do know such and thing and have known it before we ever hypothesiszed dark matter and dark energy. We know the density of the early universe after it became transparent to EM, so we know the magnitude of total matter

  • This is a rehash of the Boltzman's Brain paradox, which doesn't require quantum mechanics, just infinity and statistical mechanics. It's a line of thinking in physics that goes back at least 80 years and probably back to the late 1800s. This doesn't mean it's wrong or bad, just that generations of physicists have thought about this (usually with a beer or two) and there's not a hard physical answer to the question: do I exist somewhere else in the universe?

    It comes down to one little bit in that article:

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll