July 27, 2004 | David F. Coppedge

Modern Cosmology Goes Schizophrenic

According to Charles Seife writing in Science,1 more cosmologists are taking parallel universes seriously.  This is a consequence of the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, one possible mathematical solution to the effects of quantum “weirdness.”  If you think our headline is too harsh, read Seife’s opening in a Rod Serling voice while playing the Twilight Zone theme in the background:

As is your habit, you are reading Science at breakfast (today’s treat: an omelet made with dodo eggs). But as soon as you finish this paragraph, a carnivorous wombat crashes through the door into your apartment and chomps angrily on your prehensile tail.  Right … now.
    Ridiculous?  Certainly—here.  But it’s true somewhere in the universe, according to many scientists.  An increasing number of mainstream physicists have espoused an almost unspeakably bizarre picture of the cosmos, one filled with mirror worlds and parallel universes, with doppelgängers and alternate histories.  In many of these parallel universes—countless ones—an exact duplicate of you is doing exactly what you’re doing: reading this article in Science magazine.  In others, you exist with subtle (and not-so- subtle) changes from your present-day life—you sport horns or speak in Latin or make a living by juggling hedgehogs at cocktail parties.

No further questions, your honor.


1Charles Seife, “Physics Enters the Twilight Zone,” Science, Vol 305, Issue 5683, 464-466, 23 July 2004, [DOI: 10.1126/science.305.5683.464].

Seife’s paragraph subtitles are twists on explicit religious phrases: Reasons to believe, You’ll never walk alone, Worlds without end.  (Question: why do you think he used the name of Hugh Ross’s organization here?)  Seife gives air to critics of the Many Worlds hypothesis, but he does not attack the idea as stupid.  Instead, he gives pretty good press to its advocates.  Undoubtedly if Richard Dawkins were reading this issue sitting on his prehensile tail, he would nod approvingly, while calling creationism ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked.
    If even in your wildest dreams you granted a nanometer of credibility to such claims, you would still have to ask what caused a universe of universes to have the properties such that the laws of quantum mechanics would give rise to a world like ours.  Anything that begins to exist must have a cause.  The universe began to exist, therefore the universe had a cause.  Q.E.D.
    Fantasyland was fun, but time to escape to reality and enjoy Adventureland.  There’s no boredom in the real world, and the equations have a way of working out in practical ways.

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