by Steve Heller
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
Ihave recently invented a new interpretation of quantum mechanics. This is synthesized from various sources, along with a few observations of my own. I would welcome any comments or discussion.
Here are the “sections” of this theory, numbered I through IV, followed by the conclusion:
I. There are an infinite number of parallel earths
The cover article in the May 2003 edition of Scientific American is entitled “Infinite Earths in Parallel Universes Really Exist”. The article begins:
“Is there a copy of you reading this article? A person who is not you but who lives on a planet called Earth, with misty mountains, fertile fields, and sprawling cities, in a solar system with eight other planets? The life of this person has been identical to yours in every respect. But perhaps he or she now decides to put down this article without finishing it, while you read on.
The idea of such an alter ego seems strange and implausible, but it looks as if we will just have to live with it, because it is supported by astronomical observations.”
The article continues by explaining that not only is there an exact replica of you or me, but “infinitely many other inhabited planets, including not just one but infinitely many that people with the same appearance, name and memories as you, who play out every possible permutation of your life choices.”
And, of course, given that quantum mechanics describes only the probability of an event’s occurring, not whether it does occur, any conceivable series of events must be taking place somewhere at this instant, in fact in infinitely many places.
This means that there is no such thing as fiction. Any story, dream, vision, or idea of how things might be is in fact being played out “right now” (in a sense that I will describe shortly), has been played out infinitely many times before, and will be played out infinitely many times again.
II. The entire universe is connected by an “instantaneous telephone line”
There is a famous “paradox” called the “Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen effect” (EPR), colloquially referred to by physicists as “spooky action at a distance” (see https://www.counterbalance.net/ghc-obs/epr-body.htmlfor a more-or-less intelligible English description of this effect). Here is a case where Einstein was wrong: he believed that the extreme weirdness of this effect indicated that quantum mechanics (which predicts its existence) must be incorrect. In fact, experiments have indicated that this effect actually exists.
To vastly oversimplify, EPR says that when two particles are “entangled” and then separated to any distance whatsoever, measurements made on one of the particles will instantaneously affect the results of measurements made on the other particle.
A special issue of Scientific American (“The edge of physics” issue, available spring 2003) explains this in a fair amount of detail, including the standard disclaimer that (paraphrasing, because I do not have that issue at hand) “we cannot use nature’s instantaneous telephone to transmit information faster than light”.
However, even though we cannot use that “telephone”, its very existence means that it is possible for influences from any part of the universe to affect events anywhere else in the universe, without any time delay or attenuation whatsoever.
III. The reason for the randomness of quantum mechanical effects
I am a computer programmer by trade, and am interested in a couple of topics that may seem unrelated to the above discussion, but in fact aren’t.
These topics are randomness and compression. Random data can be defined as data that cannot be compressed. That is, the most compact way to represent the data is by simply giving the data itself, rather than some means of generating it such as a computer program. This has the interesting implication that perfectly compressed data cannot be distinguished from random data by any test (other than finding the decompression algorithm and successfully decompressing it, of course).
How are these related to the nature of the universe? Well, quantum mechanical calculations are couched in terms of probabilities, not certain outcomes. Which actual outcomes occur in any given case cannot be predicted, according to current theories; only the likelihood of any given occurrence can be determined in advance.
Let us suppose that the “instantaneous telephone” is actually being used by some entity, which we will call “God” for convenience, to transmit information from one place to another in the universe. If that information is ideally compressed, it will appear to be, by any test known to man, perfectly random.
IV. The nature of time, free will, and causality
Every possible organization of matter actually exists somewhere in the universe, including the organization that follows one millisecond “after” any existing organization, given the decisions, actions, purposes, and behaviors of sentient beings. This provides an explanation for the “paradox of time’s arrow” (why does time seem to flow from past to future irrevocably, given that there is no physical theory as to why this should occur?): namely, we’re not in fact moving from past to future, but from one universe to another, according to the decisions that we make.
This also finally reconciles the paradox of free will vs. determinism that has been puzzling mankind for thousands of years. If the universe follows laws (whether Newtonian, Einsteinian, or those of quantum mechanics), how can our decisions, intentions, and thoughts affect the future? Clearly, in a Newtonian universe, given sufficient information about the starting positions and momenta of all particles, one could predict (in theory, at least) the entire future evolution of the universe in detail. This leaves no room for free will at all.
However, the situation is not much improved by including the randomness caused by quantum mechanics. If quantum mechanical events are truly random, then they cannot be affected by free will either. This would mean that, although it would be impossible to predict the future in complete detail, it would also be impossible for sentient beings (or anything else) to cause certain events to occur by exercise of will.
If my hypothesis is true however, each individual universe that we pass through can indeed obey the laws of quantum mechanics (and therefore be deterministic, except for the quantum mechanical randomness effects), but our path through those universes can still be determined by our behavior, thoughts, and decisions. Thus, the universes that we see are in fact influenced by our will.
The simplest hypothesis that accounts for all these facts is that the apparently purposeless “instantaneous telephone” is in fact essential to the existence and functioning of the universe. It is the mechanism by which our decisions and actions allow us to “switch” from one potential universe to another instantaneously.
This implies that our decisions and actions are much more important than we realize. We are actively creating the universe in which we live by the way we treat others and ourselves.
Happy with this piece? Annoyed? Disagree? Speak your peace.
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