multiverse

14 May 2022 11:03 - 01 Nov 2023 11:49
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    • In physics, an interpretation of quantum physics that posts a huge number of branching parallel versions of the universe. It solves various paradoxes of indeterminism at the cost of postulating a ridiculous expansion of the real.
    • In fiction, the trope that makes this explicit, and unlike in physics, the worlds can interact, with characters traveling from world to world to experience various As if situations.
    • This trope is having a moment – the 2022 file Everything Everywhere All at Once is a fucking brilliant use of it, His Dark Materials was based around it, there's a marvel movie, and a zillion other uses (see The Multiverse - TV Tropes)
    • It's an idea both disturbing and liberating. It cuts against our most basic experience, and a sort of iron law of reality – that the world is a certain way, and that the future will be a certain way, whether or not we have freedom of action to try to affect it. Instead, all possible states are equally real and we just happen to find ourselves in a particular subset.
    • Consider the idea of quantum suicide – which, if you took it seriously, would be a very powerful technique to achieve almost anything. Want to force a fair coin to come up heads? Flip it and kill yourself if it lands tails – voila, all living versions of yourself have gotten heads, congratulations. Or if you don't trust your future selves to carry out this plan, you could rig a machine to do the killing automatically.
    • I've had a couple of near-fatal accidents which have almost convinced that this is sort of how things work – most versions of myself are dead, but of course the version that is writing this right now is one of the survivors. But I don't feel immortal, and I have no desire to test this theory by engaging in further risk-taking.
    • While it might be pleasant in some ways to think that there are other worlds where versions of me are enjoying different activities and different fates, it's also the ultimate in nihilism. If every possible world is equally real, then really nothing matters, except locally. The vastness of the physical cosmos we can observe is nothing compared to the vastness of possible states of the cosmos, so our precious single-threaded existence is even smaller than it was before.
    • Jon Hawkins (@_jonhawkins) / X
    • The solution I suppose is the same as it is for the more usual dread inspired by the vastness of the classical universe – Be Here Now. Don't worry about the vast multiverse of possibilities; occupy the particular reality you find yourself in. This place, this body, this life, this roll of the quantum dice.