Parallel Universes Exist

Although I am a huge science geek, my knowledge of quantum mechanics is so basic, so cursory, so pathetically limited, that I literally have nothing to say about this except ZOMG it's totally fucking cool!

Parallel universes really do exist, according to a mathematical discovery by Oxford scientists described by one expert as "one of the most important developments in the history of science".

The parallel universe theory, first proposed in 1950 by the US physicist Hugh Everett, helps explain mysteries of quantum mechanics that have baffled scientists for decades, it is claimed.

In Everett's "many worlds" universe, every time a new physical possibility is explored, the universe splits. Given a number of possible alternative outcomes, each one is played out - in its own universe. 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.
This "bizarre idea" has been previously been dismissed by experts, but, because it provides a mathematical answer to quantum conundrums, as evidenced by the new research, it's suddenly looking less fanciful than it once did and "suggests that Dr Everett, who was a Phd student at Princeton University when he came up with the theory, was on the right track."

According to quantum mechanics, nothing at the subatomic scale can really be said to exist until it is observed. Until then, particles occupy nebulous "superposition" states, in which they can have simultaneous "up" and "down" spins, or appear to be in different places at the same time.

Observation appears to "nail down" a particular state of reality, in the same way as a spinning coin can only be said to be in a "heads" or "tails" state once it is caught.

According to quantum mechanics, unobserved particles are described by "wave functions" representing a set of multiple "probable" states. When an observer makes a measurement, the particle then settles down into one of these multiple options.

The Oxford team, led by Dr David Deutsch, showed mathematically that the bush-like branching structure created by the universe splitting into parallel versions of itself can explain the probabilistic nature of quantum outcomes.
So what I totally love about this is how it pulls back a curtain to give us a glimpse of how little we really actually know about the universe(s). We think we're so sophisticated, but we're still bloodletting with leeches to cure us of our plethoras.

Naturally, I have already incorporated the parallel universe theory into our lives at The Nerdery, aka Shakes Manor: "In a parallel universe, you do not pass me the ketchup. In this universe, however, you do." I don't think I've seen Mr. Shakes (who forwarded this story to me yesterday afternoon) quite so pleased by my geekitude since we were playing "Who Would Win in a Fight" last week and I offered up "a warg or a tauntaun?"

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