Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Going over Niagara Falls in a Giant Teacup


"[The Many-worlds interpretation*]", claims Wikipedia, "means that there are an infinite number of universes and that everything that could possibly happen in our universe (but doesn't) does happen in another." What if this is true?
I had my coffee black this morning. Is there another universe where I had it with milk? And one where I had tea? How far can this go? Is there another universe where I went to work in a chicken suit? Where I'm an astronaut? Where I'm going over Niagara Falls in a barrel?
How about going over Niagara Falls in a giant teacup? Or going over Niagara falls in a giant teacup with... Jack the Ripper? (Who talked me into that, anyway?)

*this is the simplified explanation. I'm no physics whiz, but as far as I can tell, the Many-worlds idea was cooked up as one (of many) explanations about how sub atomic particles behave. They're more rascally than than bigger things.

7 comments:

stray g said...

I knew we shoulda been rocket scientists!

Namowal said...

Ha! Good one, Stray G!

Linda said...

That giant tea cup is floating on some magical waves.

Namowal said...

Thanks, Linda,
That's Painter's "Van Gogh" brush you're seeing. The brush leaves streaks of about five or six stripes. The whole thing was done with the brush (to see if I could), but it took some practice to get the waves right.

Jesse said...

The Many Worlds theory is a natural way to smooth out the ad absurdium Schrödinger's cat paradox.

Why do I think it's so natural? I co-invented the bugger when I first read about Schrödinger's cat at the tender young age of 12. It was a couple of years later that I discovered that Hugh Everett got first dibs on it in the forties, and a couple of years after that I first watched "sliders" on Fox..

Anyway the mechanics mandate that there is no alternate reality where 1+1=3. Instead, the branching realities represent all of the closed timelike paths that act as solutions to the Copenhagen wavefunctions of elementary particles in transitions states across the universe. Now there are a smack bang large number of such solutions, but in short each "universe" would have a complete history where all of the surroundings obey the laws of physics.

More likely than the ripper teacup would be choosing to add milk, but more likely still than that would be spilling the coffee or getting called away to an unforseen event and missing coffee entirely.

Perhaps there is an alternate universe where all that BS I said 2 paragraphs back actually means something? I need to quit playing Balderdash! ;)

Namowal said...

Ok, ok, I know the teacup shtick was an abuse of the Many Worlds Theory, but it made a cooler picture than me putting milk in my coffee.
A similar paradox drove me crazy as a preschooler- I remember thinking I could choose to move my hand up and down or side to side, and wondered if I chose to do one, if somehow I was doing the other elsewhere. (The other mystery was why the purple crayon (sans wrapper) looked so much like the black crayon.)

Jesse said...

Regarding the back and forth, side to side question the Many Worlds™ theorem states, verbatim, "Sure, why the heck not?"

Now the crayons are a different question entirely. You think you are confused now, what will really bake your noodle later are the Easter Egg dies! XD