Parallel Worlds Could Explain Wacky Quantum Physics
The concept of an endless number of parallel worlds coexisting with our own is difficult to grasp, but a variant of this so-called Many Worlds theory could provide an answer to the contentious concept of quantum mechanics and its many alternative interpretations.
Bill Poirier, a physics professor at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, offered a hypothesis that not only implies parallel worlds exist, but also claims that their interaction can explain all of the observable quantum mechanics “weirdness.”
Poirier initially proposed the theory four years ago, but other physicists have just begun expanding on it and demonstrating that it is mathematically feasible. The most recent study was published in the journal Physical Review X.
Quantum mechanics is the discipline of physics that describes the microscopic principles that control the cosmos. It attempts to explain how subatomic particles can behave as particles as well as waves. It also explains why particles appear to exist in many locations at the same time.
A “wave function” – an equation that predicts how many possible positions a given particle might occupy — describes this fuzzy clump of possible positions. However, the wave function collapses the moment someone measures the particle’s true position. This is where the multiverse theory enters the picture.
Some physicists believe that once a particle’s position is determined, the many possible positions it may take based on its wave function split out and form distinct, parallel worlds, each only slightly different from the original.
Hugh Everett was the first physicist to postulate the existence of a multiverse — an endless number of parallel universes coexisting with our own. In the 1950s, he published his “Many Worlds” theory, but it was not well welcomed by academics.
Everett left physics shortly after receiving his Ph.D., but many physicists today take the multiverse and parallel-worlds theories seriously. Poirier revised the Many Worlds theory into the less abstract “Many Interacting Worlds” (MIW) hypothesis, which may assist in explaining quantum mechanics’ strange reality.
Quantum physics has been around for more than a century, yet its interpretation is still as contentious now as it was 100 years ago, according to Poirier’s original work.
Quantum mechanics did not appeal to Albert Einstein. He did not understand how a particle could exist in a cloud of probability rather than a precise location, and he famously stated, “God does not play dice with the universe.” This new MIW hypothesis, on the other hand, may have served to put Einstein at ease. Quantum particles, according to the MIW theory, do not behave like waves at all. Each parallel universe contains particles and physical objects that behave normally. The wave-function equation is not required to exist.
In the new work, physicists from Griffith University in Australia and the University of California, Davis show that it only requires two interacting parallel worlds — not an infinite number — to cause the strange quantum behavior observed by physicists. The researchers claimed in their report that neighboring universes repel one another. This repulsive force could explain strange quantum events like particles that can tunnel through boundaries.
But how can physicists demonstrate that we live in one of millions of other universes, or that these worlds interact? Poirier believes that developing a method to test the notion will take some time.
“Experimental observations are the ultimate test of any theory,” Poirier said in a statement. “So far, Many Interacting Worlds makes the same predictions as standard quantum theory, so all we can say for sure at present is that it might be correct.”
The new paper’s authors expect that expanding the MIW theory may lead to new ways to test for parallel universes and explain quantum mechanics.
Richard Feynman, a physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project, once said, “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics,” but Poirier and his colleagues argue that physicists have much to gain from trying.