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Parallel Universes

parallel universe wiseman

In 1954, a young Princeton University doctoral candidate named Hugh Everett III came up with a radical idea: That there exist parallel universes, exactly like our ­universe. These universes are all related to ours; indeed, they branch off from ours, and our universe is branched off of others. Within these parallel universes, our wars have had different outcomes than the ones we know. Species that are extinct in our universe have evolved and adapted in others. In other universes, we humans may have become extinct.
This thought boggles the mind and yet, it is still comprehensible. Notions of parallel universes or dimensions that resemble our own have appeared in works of science fiction and have been used as explanations for metaphysics. But why would a young up-and-coming physicist possibly risk his future career by posing a theory about parallel universes?
With his Many-Worlds theory, Everett was attempting to answer a rather sticky question related to quantum physics: Why does quantum matter behave erratically? The quantum level is the smallest one science has detected so far. The study of quantum physics began in 1900, when the physicist Max Planck first introduced the concept to the scientific world. Planck’s study of radiation yielded some unusual findings that contradicted classical physical laws. These findings suggested that there are other laws at work in the universe, operating on a deeper level than the one we know.

The ‘Many Interacting Worlds’ approach proposed by the team, led by Prof Howard Wiseman of Griffith University, provides a new perspective on this baffling field.

“In the well-known ‘Many-Worlds Interpretation ,’ each universe branches into a bunch of new universes every time a quantum measurement is made. All possibilities are therefore realized – in some universes the dinosaur-killing asteroid missed Earth. In others, Australia was colonized by the Portuguese.”

“But critics question the reality of these other universes, since they do not influence our universe at all. On this score, our ‘Many Interacting Worlds’ approach is completely different, as its name implies.”

“The world we experience is just one of an enormous number of essentially classical worlds, and all quantum phenomena arise from a universal force of repulsion that prevents worlds from having identical physical configurations. Probabilities arise only because of our ignorance as to which world an observer occupies ” .

According to the team, their model of such a ‘many interacting worlds’ approach can reproduce some quantum phenomena – such as Ehrenfest’s theorem , wave packet spreading, barrier tunneling, and zero-point energy – as a direct consequence of mutual repulsion between parallel worlds.

“This picture is all that is needed to explain bizarre quantum effects such as particles that tunnel through solid barriers and wave behavior in double-slit experiments.”

Dr Michael Hall of Griffith University, the first author of the paper, said: “the ‘Many-Interacting Worlds’ approach may even create the extraordinary possibility of testing for the existence of other worlds. The beauty of our approach is that if there is just one world our theory reduces to Newtonian mechanics , while if there is a gigantic number of worlds it reproduces quantum mechanics. In between it predicts something new that is neither Newton’s theory nor quantum theory.”

“We also believe that, in providing a new mental picture of quantum effects, it will be useful in planning experiments to test and exploit quantum phenomena.”

The ability to approximate quantum evolution using a finite number of worlds could have significant ramifications in molecular dynamics, which is important for understanding chemical reactions and the action of drugs.

“The idea of parallel universes in quantum mechanics has been around since 1957,” says Professor Wiseman.
“In the well-known “Many-Worlds Interpretation”, each universe branches into a bunch of new universes every time a quantum measurement is made. All possibilities are therefore realised – in some universes the dinosaur-killing asteroid missed Earth. In others, Australia was colonised by the Portuguese.
“But critics question the reality of these other universes, since they do not influence our universe at all. On this score, our “Many Interacting Worlds” approach is completely different, as its name implies.”
Professor Wiseman and his colleagues propose that:
The universe we experience is just one of a gigantic number of worlds. Some are almost identical to ours while most are very different;
All of these worlds are equally real, exist continuously through time, and possess precisely defined properties;
All quantum phenomena arise from a universal force of repulsion between ‘nearby’ (i.e. similar) worlds which tends to make them more dissimilar.
Dr Hall says the “Many-Interacting Worlds” theory may even create the extraordinary possibility of testing for the existence of other worlds.
“The beauty of our approach is that if there is just one world our theory reduces to Newtonian mechanics, while if there is a gigantic number of worlds it reproduces quantum mechanics,” he says.
“In between it predicts something new that is neither Newton’s theory nor quantum theory.
“We also believe that, in providing a new mental picture of quantum effects, it will be useful in planning experiments to test and exploit quantum phenomena.”
The ability to approximate quantum evolution using a finite number of worlds could have significant ramifications in molecular dynamics, which is important for understanding chemical reactions and the action of drugs.
Professor Bill Poirier, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Texas Tech University, has observed: “These are great ideas, not only conceptually, but also with regard to the new numerical breakthroughs they are almost certain to engender.”

About Mohammad Daeizadeh

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