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Five Roads to the Multiple You - by John Prytz

Depending on what cosmological model you choose to adopt, there’s anywhere from a tiny, but still possible chance, ranging to the near certain probability, that you have had, and/or have now, and/or will have an absolutely identical counterpart to yourself. Across the board, one applies the well stated quantum mantra that anything that’s not expressly forbidden becomes compulsory, at least given enough time and space. Translated, you can indeed be dealt a Royal Flush or win the lottery!

 

If our Universe is vast in the extreme, far larger than our observable universe, then there is enough time and space for events to repeat. Now even on Earth, you’ve had, have now, and will have, not only say people with the same name as you, but actual Doppelgangers. Expand planet Earth’s time and space to that of an incredibly vaster Universe, with lots of bio-friendly planetary environments, there probably have been, are, and will be, copies of you so close to the original (assuming we make you the original role model) as makes no odds. Now you may argue that another you across the vast expanses of time and space can not really be a ‘carbon copy’ (excuse the pun) since it’s not the same set of star-stuff making up your cosmic twin. But, since all electrons, neutrons, protons, etc. are identical to all other electrons, neutrons, protons, etc. then I would maintain one carbon-12 atom is identical to every other carbon-12 atom, etc., and thus you could indeed be 100% identical down to the tiniest chemical detail to that of your cosmic twin(s). However, that such an identical, or near identical copy of you exists at this exact point in time is highly unlikely.

 

Then we have the Multiverse scenario. If Mother Nature can create one universe, then She can create more than one universe – and there are various physical mechanisms proposed that can accomplish this. This Multiverse, often termed ‘bubble universes’, is just that – in the cosmos there exists lots of universes, all separate and apart, doing their own thing. That vastly expands again the time and real estate that could lead to another identical or at least quasi-identical copy of you, somewhere out there. In fact, that other you probably wouldn’t just be as close to you as makes no odds, that other you would be identical to you and your lifestyle and environment in every way. There also would be a whole lot of other copies of you out there that would differ just ever so slightly, and in some cases quite considerably, from the life that you have lead, are leading, and will lead.

 

We also have the Many Worlds scenario. “When you come to a fork in the road, take it”* – take both! In this picture, painted by quantum mechanics, whenever there’s a choice to be made, at any level, by anything – from elementary particle to human being (composed of course of elementary particles) – both options (or all options) actually happen. You come to a fork in the road – left or right at Oak Street (as the popular song goes) - you go, say, left. The nanosecond you decide that, the Universe splits in two and in the now second Universe, you turn right! Given the number of ‘forks in the road’ that the world – indeed the entire Universe – meets in a day, well that’s one hell of a lot of Universes and one hell of a lot of you! Don’t debate me on the point – go argue with theoretical quantum physicists! You’ll find discussions of the Many Worlds interpretation in just about any popular treatment of quantum physics.

 

Then there’s ‘parallel dimensions’ (otherwise known as parallel or mirror or shadow universes). If the Multiverse is cosmology, and the Many Worlds scenario is quantum physics, then ‘parallel dimensions’ or hidden dimensions or higher dimensions is the realm, not of paranormal mystics, but of string theorists. ‘Bubble universes’ are separated by vast distances; ‘parallel dimensions’, all universes in their own right, are separated but not by distance. One copy of you in one room is right in the same room as you are, but on an ever so slightly different ‘plane’ – or some such. The upshot again, is lots of copies of you. Argue it out with string, superstring and M-theorists! There are many popular accounts available on the market.

 

Lastly, but hardly least, is the simulated universe scenario which falls into the realm of the computer sciences. In brief, you exist only in the realm of computer software, existing as either a part of a computer (video) game or as a part of a scientific simulation or as a sort of artificially created (programmed) holodeck (to use a Star Trek example) entity. You don’t really exist in the way that you think that you do. Of course, there could exist multi-thousands or millions (or more) copies of such software, each one containing one you. So, again, we have a multi-you scenario! Say you create a videogame starring yourself. You manufacture tens of thousands of copies, so there exist tens of thousands of copies of the virtual you. Depending on the scenarios played out by the individuals who play your video game, those tens of thousands of copies of the virtual you all do their own different thing.

 

The saving grace is that even if there are multiple copies of you, perfect and exact down to the last minute detail, there’s little probability (zero actually for all practical purposes) of you ever meeting yourself!

 

*Courtesy of baseball star Yogi Berra.



Science librarian; retired.

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