Ever since I was introduced to the idea at North Shore, I've been fascinated by string theory, dark matter, dark energy, parallel universes and time travel. There's good reason for this fascination; everything breaks down on the quantum level. :D
There is an excellent introduction to Quantum Mechanics available here. It's meant for the layperson and is very clear.
I want to address the idea of parallel universes, multiverses, MWI (Many Worlds Interpretation) or Everett theory, whichever you prefer.
- Hugh Everett's "Many Worlds Theory" is the belief that for every possible outcome of an uncertain event a new universe in which that outcome occurs is created in some parallel yet utterly unreachable dimension. Thus the paradox of the ghostly simultaneous existence of contradictory outcomes until an observation is made is avoided. A good example is the paradox of Schrodinger's Cat, in which a cat has a 50% chance of dying of cyanide poisoning. The Many Worlds Theory bypasses the unfathomable concept that the cat is in a limbo-like state of both life and death until human observation by stating that the cat either dies or does not die in our reality. If the cat dies in our reality, it lives in another reality. If it lives in our universe, it dies in another, parallel universe (Now you know where Star Trek got all its plots).
(From the aforementioned layperson's resource)
I also enjoyed (but certainly don't pretend to understand all of it) Max Tegmark's article "Parallel Universes."
Today I want to discuss the "Level Three" multiverse in which "a different kind of parallel universes/timelines is generated, based on slight differences in decisions and actions made by each realm's inhabitants. A single particular universe at the Big Bang over time multiplies into an infinite number, branching like a tree to incorporate every different possible outcome (source)."
The reason this approach is fantastic (other than its innate attraction for all those of us who enjoy magic and fantasy) is that it explains the very common idea of "these and these are the words of the living God."
This quote is from Eruvin 13b:
יצאה בת קול ואמרה אלו ואלו דברי אלהים חיים הן והלכה כב"ה וכי מאחר שאלו ואלו דברי אלהים חיים מפני מה זכו ב"ה לקבוע הלכה כמותן מפני שנוחין ועלובין היו ושונין דבריהן
- For three years there was a dispute between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel, the former asserting, 'The law is in agreement with our views.' and the latter contending, 'The law is in agreement with our views.' Then a bat kol (a voice from heaven) announced, ' Eilu v’eilu divrei Elohim chayim ‘these and those are the words of the living God, but the law is in agreement with the rulings of Beit Hillel.'
Since, however, 'both are the words of the living God', what was it that entitled Beit Hillel to have the law fixed according to their rulings? Because they were kindly and modest, they studied their own rulings and those of Beit Shammai, and were even so humble as to mention the words of Beit Shammai before their own.(Eruvin, 13b)
Well, cries the impatient reader, which is it? What actually happened? It's a historical event, isn't it; how can there be innumerable interpretations of what went on?
The most famous example is probably this one: Did the Phaorah of Egypt die? Or was it the same king, and he simply pretended not to know Joseph?
But you could ask this question on any event that is interpreted in various fashions, especially those where there are direct contradictions. (And when you get into Midrashim, all hell breaks loose...did Isaac die by the Akedah? The Midrash says yes; the literal commentary says no. How can they both be true- they directly contradict one another!) In school, the teacher will invariably answer with "Eilu v'eilu divrei Elokim hayyim." Don't know about you, but this answer always bothered me. But what happened? I wanted to ask. When Moses gave the Jews the sotah water to drink (after the sin with the Golden Calf) how did he do it? Ramban alone brings down four different ways he could have done it, but I want to know how it happened. Because it could only have happened in one way, right?
I was sitting in Forbes' class at North Shore Country Day and he had us watch this fantastic scientific film which addressed the idea of parallel universes, time travel and the grandfather paradox. Then I took Skal's class, where I learned about wormholes, black holes, dark matter and dark energy. As soon as I saw the movie, my immediate thought was,
This could explain everything!
If parallel universes do exist, and if they exist on the third level, then everything happened and continues to happen. Pharoah died; Pharoah lived and forgot Joseph. Moses ground the gold into powder and threw it into the lake streaming down the mountain, a natural act; the act was unnatural and there was a miracle involved in this. Even rationalism and mysticism exist at once- Rambam's Moreh Nevuchim and everything he disagrees with and attacks could both have happened. Miracles could be natural; miracles can be unnatural. Everything depends on choices and events at a crucial juncture at time (or even not-so-crucial; even everyday choices.) Every single commentator (except those who are interpreting based on faulty manuscripts) could be correct and events could have proceeded exactly as they claimed.
Indeed, "these and these are the words of the living God."
Everything happens, happened and continues to happen in this world of all possible realities.
Parallel universes, my friends, account for the differences in the commentaries and the fact that they are all correct. It's a beautiful concept.
I just hope it's true.