Parallel Universes Exist. . . and Interact

Credit: © Giuseppe Porzani / Fotolia

Artist's abstraction (stock illustration). According to Poirier's theory,
quantum reality is not wave-like at all, but is composed of multiple,
classical-like worlds. In each of these worlds, every object has 
very definite physical attributes, such as position and momentum.
Within a given world, objects interact with each other classically.
All quantum effects, on the other hand, manifest as interactions
between "nearby" parallel worlds.

Sorry, authors and screenwriters, researchers are taking interacting parallel worlds and universes out of the realm of science fiction and into that of hard science.   Very hard science.

Griffith University academics, Professor Howard Wiseman and Dr Michael Hall from Griffith's Centre for Quantum Dynamics, and Dr Dirk-Andre Deckert from the University of California, are challenging the foundations of quantum science with a radical new theory based on the existence of, and interactions between, parallel universes.

"It is my supposition that
the Universe is not only
queerer than we imagine,
it is queerer than we can

John B.S. Haldane
The team proposes that parallel universes exist and interact. That is, rather than evolving independently, nearby worlds influence one another by a subtle force of repulsion. They show that such an interaction could explain everything that is bizarre about quantum mechanics.

Also released in the past few days is an announcement from Texas Tech University that a chemical physicist, Bill Poirer, that restates his 2010 publication of a new theory of quantum mechanics that presumes not only that parallel worlds exist, but also that their mutual interaction is what gives rise to all quantum effects observed in nature.

The idea of many worlds is not new. In 1957, Hugh Everett III published what is now called the "Many Worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics. "But in Everett's theory, the worlds are not well defined," according to Poirier, "because the underlying mathematics is that of the standard wave-based quantum theory." In contrast, in Poirier's "Many Interacting Worlds" theory, the worlds are built into the mathematics right from the start.

*  *  *  *  *
Let's rest here for a moment. If I need a break, you must as well.

Understand: I am not able to explain quantum mechanics or particle physics or whatever they choose to call it, let alone this new theory.  I flunked numbers in college.

To put it another way, I haven't a clue what the hell these guys are talking about. I understand that the universe is queerer than I understand or can understand. Thank you, Professor Haldane, we're with you so far.

Four dimensions, that I can work with, except the idea that time and space are actually the same thing unnerves me.

I've also read that physicists and mathematicians posit that String Theory, one of several competing "Theories of Everything," predicts eleven dimensions. Or twenty-seven dimensions. Poirer explains below that there are an infinite number of parallel worlds.
Andrew Sachs as the perpetually
bewildered Manuel on Fawlty Towers.
Mr. Sachs' desperate cry of ¿qué?
certainly conveys most people's
reaction on this entire subject.

To quote that noted thinker, Sesame Street's Hairy Monster, "Brain hurt." Or more accurately, I am as confused trying to understand this as the character, Manuel, was listening to Basil Fawlty on Fawlty Towers. I now understand the depth of feeling of Manuel when he said, "¿Qué?"

It is reassuring that eminent American theoretical physicist and physics explainer-in-everyday-terms, Richard Feynman, once said, "I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics." I assume he includes himself, not just you and I. I wouldn't be surprised that one sub-theorem of Quantum Mechanics is that if you think you know what's going on, you're fooling yourself.
*  *  *  *  *

Quantum theory is needed to explain how the universe works at the microscopic scale, and is believed to apply to all matter. But it is notoriously difficult to fathom, exhibiting weird phenomena which seem to violate the laws of cause and effect. However, the "Many-Interacting Worlds" approach developed at Griffith University provides a new and daring perspective on this baffling field.

"In Everett's 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. (I would love to visit the universe where Hitler is a men's room attendant so I can pee on his shoes.)

"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.
"I think I can safely say
that nobody understands
quantum mechanics."
~ Richard Feynman
Dr. Hall says the "Many-Interacting Worlds" theory may even create the possibility of testing for the existence of other worlds. (Might we not meet our inter-dimensional doppelganger once there? Only to learn he or she was assigned the beauty and fortune universe while we're stuck here, defeated at every turn. As noted philosopher Woody Allen once observed in a lecture on reality, "This is still the best place to get a hamburger.")

"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."

Suggested Reading
The Quantum Universe:
(And Why Anything That
Can Happen, Does)
According to Poirier's theory, quantum reality is not wave-like at all, but is composed of multiple, classical-like worlds. In each of these worlds, every object has very definite physical attributes, such as position and momentum. Within a given world, objects interact with each other classically. All quantum effects, on the other hand, manifest as interactions between "nearby" parallel worlds.

Does this prove anything definitive about the nature of reality? (Other than how easy it is to confuse people?)

"Not yet," says Poirier. "Experimental observations are the ultimate test of any theory. So far, Many Interacting Worlds makes the same predictions as standard quantum theory, so all we can say for sure at present is that it might be correct."

Related stories:
*  *  *  *  *
  1. Michael J. W. Hall, Dirk-André Deckert, Howard M. Wiseman. Quantum Phenomena Modeled by Interactions between Many Classical Worlds. Physical Review X, 2014.
  2. Jeremy Schiff, Bill Poirier. Communication: Quantum mechanics without wavefunctions. The Journal of Chemical Physics, 2012.
  3. Bill Poirier. Bohmian mechanics without pilot waves. Chemical Physics, 2010.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. parallel universes are necessary to immortality

  3. I wouldn't be surprised. I asked a theoretical physicist about this possibility, and he responded, in essence, "beats me." Of course, his answer was two pages long and filled with twenty-five cent words.


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