Richard welcomes a researcher, writer and cosmologist to discuss a recent mathematical discovery at Oxford University affirming the existence of parallel universes.
The mathematical idea of parallel worlds was first glimpsed by the great quantum pioneer, Erwin Schrodinger, but actually published in 1957 by Hugh Everett III, when wrestling with the problem of what actually happens when an observation is made of something of interest – such as an electron or an atom – with the intention of measuring its position or its speed. In the traditional brand of quantum mechanics, a mathematical object called a wave function, which contains all possible outcomes of a measurement experiment, “collapses” to give a single real outcome.
Everett came up with a more audacious interpretation: the universe is constantly and infinitely splitting, so that no collapse takes place. Every possible outcome of an experimental measurement occurs, each one in a parallel universe.
If one accepts Everett’s interpretation, our universe is embedded in an infinitely larger and more complex structure called the multiverse, which as a good approximation can be regarded as an ever-multiplying mass of parallel universes. Every time there is an event at the quantum level – a radioactive atom decaying, for example, or a particle of light impinging on your retina – the universe is supposed to “split” into different universes.
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.
The theory of a multiverse has wider implications since the idea of parallel universes sidesteps one of the key problems with time travel. Every since it was given serious lab cred in 1949 by the great logician Kurt Godel, many eminent physicists have argued against time travel because it undermines ideas of cause and effect to create paradoxes: a time traveller could go back to kill his grandfather so that he is never born in the first place.
But the existence of parallel worlds offers a way around these troublesome paradoxes, according to David Deutsch of Oxford University, a highly respected proponent of quantum theory, the deeply mathematical, successful and baffling theory of the atomic world.
The new work bolsters his claim that quantum theory does not forbid time travel. “It does sidestep it. You go into another universe,” he said yesterday, though he admits that there is still a way to go to find schemes to manipulate space and time in a way that makes time hops possible.
“Many sci fi authors suggested time travel paradoxes would be solved by parallel universes but in my work, that conclusion is deduced from quantum theory itself”, Dr Deutsch said, referring to his work on many worlds.He argues that time travel shifts between different branches of reality, basing his claim on parallel universes, the so-called “many-worlds” formulation of quantum theory.
GUEST: Jim Elvidge holds a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University. He has applied his training in the high-tech world as a leader in technology and enterprise management, including many years in executive roles for various companies and entrepreneurial ventures. He also holds 4 patents in digital signal processing and has written articles for publications as diverse as Monitoring Times and the IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing. Beyond the high-tech realm, however, Elvidge has years of experience as a musician, writer, and truth seeker. He merged his technology skills with his love of music, developed one of the first PC-based digital music samplers, and co-founded RadioAMP, the first private-label online streaming-radio company. For many years, Elvidge has kept pace with the latest research, theories, and discoveries in the varied fields of subatomic physics, cosmology, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and the paranormal. This unique knowledge base has provided the foundation for his first full-length book, “The Universe-Solved!”