Parallel Universes: Fact or Science Fiction?
It’s an exciting notion. Thinking that there is another universe where you have been faced with all the same situations, but each choice you make is different, with every different decision leading to a different outcome. Like a choose your own adventure novel where you actually have chosen every possible option. But while it may seem like something out of science fiction, the notion of parallel universes has perplexed and intrigued scientists ever since it was first proposed over 60 years ago by Hugh Everett III.
The idea of a parallel universe falls under a facet of the astronomical theory of multiverses. The theory states that shortly after the Big Bang our universe expanded at different rates and in different places which lead to the rise of many universes outside of our own.
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The parallel universe notion, also known as the many worlds theory, proposes that every possible alternate timeline for the universe is real, all happening in an ever branching way. So while in one universe you may have said no to dessert, in another you said yes, leading to completely different series of events. Therefore we only live out one of the infinite possibilities that is present to us. This follows the theory of quantum mechanics which is focused on explaining how matter and light behave. How this relates to parallel universes is that the range of possibilities in quantum mechanics is infinite, with particles potentially moving in all directions. It is believed that once a particle’s position is measured, the many other positions that are possible for the particle do in fact split off and create another universe. So while in one universe a particle moves right, another universe is created where the particle moves left, while another is created where it moves up and so on and so forth.
It is a complex theory and has continued to be doubted and scrutinized ever since Everett proposed it in the 1950s. Many scientists believe that the multiverse theory is something that is not observable and therefore not provable. This leads many to believe that discussion of such a notion is pointless and even unscientific.
However earlier this year a group of scientists believe that they may have found a small bit of evidence to support this bizarre theory. A ‘Cold Spot’ in the universe was found 1.8 billion light years away, and as the name suggests it is a particularly cold spot in the universe. Many researchers believe that this spot is indeed just one large empty area in the universe. However some believe that the Cold Spot was a result from our universe colliding with another universe in its early days. With the impact releasing energy which would have created a Cold Spot in the universe.
Yet despite this slim strand of hope for those who believe that parallel universes exist, many aren’t phased by the difficulty to test for the presence of other universes. Those who support the theory believe it has great merit and only hope that one day that science fiction will become fact.