The Worlds Beyond — Understanding the Multiverse and Convergent Evolution

The universe is like a jar of marbles. Each marble represents a planet. Now, think about marbles. There are only so many existing color combinations, so many possible designs. So by definition, some marbles will look very similar, perhaps even identical.

So what does this mean to planets?

Well, there are over thirty different varieties of planets already discovered, and likely more than just this. Let’s begin with the idea hitting closest to home: similar development on different planets.

Interplanetary Convergent Evolution

We all know the going theory of humans evolving from an aquatic beast to a reptilian to after thousands of years became a common ancestor, starting from Africa before traveling by land to Europe, Asia, and then crossing the land-bridge to get to the Americas (or perhaps another way, given new evidence that suggests they rowed boats). After that, tribes began to form, introducing tools and turning the hunter-gatherer lifestyle to one of peaceful farming.

From that, villages came, and different forms of social hierarchies emerged. We could keep going, but we know this story. It’s the story of humans.

Now, picture if you will, another Earth — except here, the development of the common ancestor occurs a million years later. Or, instead, imagine a world where Rome’s empire never fell, and instead thrived for centuries after it did on Earth. It sounds like something out of a crazy sci-fi movie, right? Well, it’s not.

Looking on these possibilities for how our world could have developed, it makes us wonder why it didn’t. More specifically, why couldn’t it develop like this again.

Let’s go back to the marble idea, where every marble is a different world. Take one marble. This is Earth. How many other marbles are similar, if not identical to this one marble? Even just taking the atmospherical conditions on our planet, what’s the likelihood they’ll be found on another planet? Given that life evolves on this other planet, how similar will it be to Earth’s development.

Just because we don’t know what’s out there doesn’t mean it isn’t out there.

Parallel Universes — What Worlds Do We Live In?

This theory can be pretty similar to the idea of Interplanetary Convergent Evolution idea in the aspect of how our world is structured. It’s still all theoretical, as no one’s really found proof of the existence of a parallel universe, yet it’s still brought to our attention. It hits the question ‘what’s beyond the universe?

In the parallel universe theory, it’s suggested that other universes like ours exist where some feature would make it different. Some ways this could be accomplished include:

  • Subtle differences: the type of breakfast cereal you eat is different
  • Obvious differences: human development formed on Mars, and tried to colonize Earth
  • No differences: maybe it’s exactly like our universe

An underlying support of the parallel universe theory is the space-time continuum. As no one is truly sure what shape it takes, nor how it’s structured, theoretically multiple universes could be stacked in on one another like Russian stacking dolls.

Additionally, there’s the idea that for every action you take and every thought that runs through your mind (down to the movement of atoms), there’s an alternate course of action. For example, if you choose to wear red socks instead of green, you’re making a decision that could impact the entire timeline.

Lastly, a theory exists of “bubble universes”, the idea that each universe could exist in its own separate bubble, isolated from the other bubbles. This would put boundaries around each universe, separating them from each other. It also wouldn’t limit physics to the same laws in every one, so many more variations could exist.

Schrodinger’s Cat — Linking a Feline to Quantum Physics

You’ve probably heard of Schrodinger’s Cat before, but here’s a quick sum-up of what it is:

  • There’s a cat, a test tube of poison, and a radioactive item all in a box
  • If some monitor from within the box finds the radioactivity, the bottle breaks, killing the cat
  • In looping this into quantum physics, after a point in time the idea is that the cat is both alive and dead, yet when you look in the box, it’s either alive or dead, not both
  • This is called quantum superposition: the ability of a quantum particle to exist in both states at once (spinning both ways), yet when you measure the particle it switches to one of the states
This diagram represents the spin of atoms, with either a ‘south’ or ‘north’ orientation. Quantum bits (or qubits) have the abilities to hold both spins at the same time, called quantum superposition.

So how do we use this to understand parallel universes? Well, it suggests that for as long as no one looks at this cat, it remains in both states, or two separate realities, and so when interrupted, it will collapse into but one of the realities. However, this still begs the question of what element allows the cat to choose one of its two states.

English Class and Quantum Superposition?

Remember this poem from your english class?

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

That’s the famous poet, Robert Frost. Although you probably had to analyze every sentence for a deeper meaning, here’s one that actually applies to quantum superposition. Similar to Schrodinger’s cat, the poet suggests there are two options to be taken, but as there is only one observer who can look in and take one road (again, the two roads could both exist as the path until one is taken).

The last line of the poem follows this through:

And that has made all the difference

No matter what decision is made, that decision will show the difference in the future. One choice is made, and that choice leads to others, creating a different outcome than if the other choice were made.

In the poem, the traveler is the determining element of which path is taken.

Now, taking a look back at the cat, what’s the element that chooses whether the cat lives or dies? And is there truly only one answer?

The Multiverse Theory

Here’s where it gets really crazy. Remember when I talked about how every decision we make could be replaced with a different one — and how both choices could exist simultaneously, but in different planes of existence? That’s a possibility for the cat: if someone (let’s call them “Jean”) looks in the box and discovers a dead cat, then alternatively, another version of Jean will have found the cat alive.

That’s two different universes — two different realities — to work from. It also allows the cat to have existed as both alive and dead, and keep both places as alive and dead even though to Jean it only appears as though the cat is one or the other, hence Jean can’t exist in both realities simultaneously.

But that’s only two universes.

It also permits Jean to make decisions, different ones, in each respective reality. Every choice Jean makes affects that timeline — and creates another reality in which Jean make a different choice. So that’s how the multiverse could theoretically come out, with all the different possible outcomes from every single decision made by anyone.

It’s not just wondering what’s out there in space, or what the past of our planet was.

It’s beyond that. Even though so much of our daily lives are surrounded on this little green-and-blue sphere in space, there’s a lot more that affects us than we think. It’s not just life on other planets. It’s life in other dimensions, on different planes of existence.

The universe is a jar of marbles. We don’t know how many are inside. Each represents a planet — no, a reality. It’s all hypothetical, and yet it leaves us wondering what the rest of the marbles are like when we can only see one.

Takeaways: What It Really Boils Down To

  1. There’s the possibility of other planets coming to exist with similar ecosystems and creatures as Earth
  2. Parallel universes, although lacking in direct evidence, still have much hypothetical value to their potential existence
  3. Using Schrodinger’s Cat (and Robert Frost’s poem), we can see that every choice made will affect an outcome, leaving the possibility of another reality which supports the choice not made
  4. It’s not just a jar of marbles.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed my article! You can contact me on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amelia-settembre-4850aa194/ if you want to talk more. Please subscribe to my monthly newsletter if you want to hear more about what I’m doing, which you can do.

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A young woman who loves studying aerospace and philosophy! I’d love to talk, you can find me at amesett@gmail.com or on LinkedIn!

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Amelia Settembre

Amelia Settembre

A young woman who loves studying aerospace and philosophy! I’d love to talk, you can find me at amesett@gmail.com or on LinkedIn!

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