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Why are you obsessed with parallel universes?

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IIn 2009, two Stanford physicists, Andrei Linde and Vitaly Vanchurin, wrote a paper in which they calculated the number of possible universes that could exist, based on the then and now prevailing theory of how our own cosmos came into being 14 billion years ago .

Her answer was 10^10^10,000,000 – that’s a one followed by a billion zeros.

I didn’t write about it at the time because it wasn’t much news. An even larger number of potential universes have been thrown around based on other speculations about physics and cosmology.

A short century ago, astronomers could scarcely comprehend the idea of ​​a universe. Well, this idea is not big enough to fulfill theorists’ dreams. There are as many possible universes as a mind can invent, spun out of imagination, desperation, hope, heroic mathematical extrapolation, and that old what-if mind to answer questions most of us didn’t know existed we have them. Welcome to the “Multiverse”.

There is not a shred of evidence that other universes exist, nor any idea how to discover them, let alone how we might visit the neighboring universe. But none of that has stopped the idea from becoming a trump card of science fiction, modern cosmology, and popular culture – especially movies. Hardly a new Marvel film comes out without its heroes stepping in and out of strange spacetimes in one quest or another.

So meet Evelyn Wang, a middle-aged Chinese immigrant who runs a laundromat and struggles with her taxes, her traditionally forbidden father (newly arrived from China) and her lesbian daughter. In the new movie Everything, everywhere at once, Evelyn was chosen to save the realm of universes from a destructive demon because she is such a loser in this case. Above all, she must reconnect with her daughter, the root cause of chaos in her local cosmos. So she races through alternate universes and alternate versions of the self she could have been.

The film was written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, who call themselves the Daniels and are best known for the 2016 film Swiss army manabout a bloated corpse, played by Daniel Radcliffe.

Her new film is a meditation on the loneliness of the infinite, disguised as a raunchy kung fu astro comedy, with subtle nods to other films such as Ratatouille and 2001: A Space Odyssey. In one universe, Evelyn has gummy hot dogs for her fingers. In another, she is a famous martial artist and movie star. At the other end of their journey, which means ultimate doom and the psychic black hole, is a giant, ominous bagel of everything.



The multiverse, with its billions upon billions of alternate realities telescoping outward, only seems to reinforce our insignificance

The film, which premiered at South by Southwest in March, has garnered rave reviews. As a self-proclaimed lover of all things cosmic, I was eager to see it and learn the basics of their multiverse.

Via Zoom, the Daniels profess to be devoted fans of pop science and cosmology. They sent me a copy of A Giant Mindless Spin Of Radioactive Rocks And Gas You Happen In (A24 LLC)a collection of scholarly and speculative texts by authors such as Jorge Luis Borges and Carl Sagan who edited them.

Needless to say, there isn’t just one theory of the multiverse, there are many, depending on what physics you use. For example, the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics posits that whenever you make a decision — say, turn left out of your driveway rather than right — the universe splits in two and continues to branch at each intersection. There’s a universe for every way you could spin, every way a ball could come off Aaron Judge’s bat, every way a cookie could crumble.

Another version of the multiverse comes from string theory, the supposed “theory of everything,” which describes elementary particles as vibrating strands of energy. “Theory of Anything” might be a better nickname; It turns out that the theory has at least 10^500 solutions in 11 different dimensions, each representing an alternate universe, perhaps with its own laws.

Michelle Yeoh and Jamie Lee Curtis star in the film

(AP)

Yet another multiverse springs from the prevailing, though not fully validated, theory of cosmic inflation. Thanks to a violent roar fueled by negative gravity at the dawn of time, an endless series of bubble or “pocket” universes branch out from each other at a dizzying, exponentially increasing rate.

The Daniels describe their multiverse as a combination of many worlds and the cosmic bubble bath that inflationary theory implies. “It’s fun imagining both versions,” Kwan said. “Both point to infinity or just to the unknown.”

But, they added, their film is less about physics and more about how physics makes you feel. “If you could see alternative lives, it would be — it would spiral you,” says Scheinert. “It would put each of us on a sort of spiral of lives you could have lived and choices you could have made.”

The multiverse, they say, could also be a metaphor for the attention-deprived lives we’ve embraced in our bubbles of social media truth. “I think our stories need to constantly look for ways to calm us down or bring us back to a different version of center and grounding,” says Kwan.

Evelyn’s backstory, says Kwan, is that she suffers from ADHD (like Kwan), and as such she flirts distractedly from one activity to the next without mastering any. She’s a Marco Polo of the multiverse, with more “what if” questions to explore in the dimensions of reality than anyone else.

The Daniels describe their multiverse as a combination of many worlds and the cosmic bubble bath that inflationary theory implies

(AP)

Whatever you may think of the multiverse, it’s a logical next step in our progression from the earth-centered universe of Ptolemy to the modern cosmos of dark energy, fantastical galaxies, and perhaps other life forms.

“Every new discovery decenters the human experience, which can be really frightening,” says Kwan.

Who knows what we’ll be moving beyond soon. Beauty is “nothing but the beginning of terror”, wrote the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. “It amazes us because it calmly refuses to destroy us.” The night sky is filled with stars that are impossibly far away, and it is impossibly powerful. What or who is out there? Will anyone ever find out about us? The more we learn about the cosmos, the smaller we feel.

The multiverse, with its billions and billions of alternate realities telescoping outward, only seems to reinforce our insignificance. Steven Weinberg, a physicist who died last year, once said, “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more meaningless it seems. At the end of her search, Evelyn comes to the conclusion: “Nothing matters.”

But that realization can also be inspirational, the Daniels claim. “I think that’s probably one of the most liberating ideas we can have,” says Kwan.

“I grew up in a very religious home, so everything was important,” says Kwan. “And when everything counts, navigating the world is a terrifying experience because everything, every action, is filled with regret, and every action is filled with guilt in a way that can be debilitating.”

If nothing matters, you are not responsible for the universe. Nothing is prescribed, everything goes; Do what you want, love who you want. And these hot dog fingers go great with mustard and ketchup.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/multiple-universes-science-kwan-film-everything-b2064996.html Why are you obsessed with parallel universes?

JOE HERNANDEZ

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