Could the all-everywhere-at-once multiverse be real? Here’s the science behind the film

The film, which first released on SXSW in March of last year, tells the story of exhausted laundromat owner Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) who is visited by a parallel universe version of her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) who says she has to team up with parallel universe versions of her to take on a universe-destroying monster – who is one of her daughter Joy’s (Stephanie Hsu) versions.

It sounds daft, and it is: there are some hilarious fight scenes, outfit changes, and a plot that keeps twisting and turning.

But many people have wondered if there is any real science behind the film.

Yes, admittedly, it is high maximum It’s unlikely there’ll be a parallel universe out there where Hollywood actors have b*tt pl*g-wielding fight scenes – but there are some professors and scientists who support the theory that parallel universes exist.

For example, an article published in Scientific American by MIT physicist Professor Max Tegmark said, “Not just a staple of science fiction, other universes are a direct consequence of cosmological observations.”

Here we break down the science for you.

The concept of the multiverse

What is it?

The idea of ​​the multiverse is that our universe is just one of many, many universes.

In 2009, two Stanford professors, Andrei Linde and Vitaly Vanchurin, found that there could be as many as 10^10^10,000,000 multiverses, which, as The New York Times put it, “far more than a 1 followed by a billion is zeros”. Then a lot.

“Our understanding of reality is far from complete,” Linde told National Geographic. “Reality exists independently of us.”

There are numerous different theories related to the multiverse, but the main unifying perspective is that our way of understanding space and time is not the only way to understand reality.

Here are a few popular concepts.

Theory 1: Cosmic inflation

This is the most popular multiverse theory. The idea is that at the Big Bang, about 13.8 billion years ago, the universe expanded incredibly rapidly for a fraction of a second, giving rise to numerous (potentially infinite) universes, and not just the universe we currently live in.

The Stephen Hawking Center for Theoretical Cosmology explains that this theory helps explain why photons from different regions of the universe have very similar temperatures when they shouldn’t.

The center said: “We observe that photons from opposite directions must have communicated somehow because the cosmic microwave background radiation is almost exactly the same temperature in all directions.”

An extension of this theory holds that the numerous universe bubbles that have formed could expand continuously – perhaps even indefinitely – and that these universes could even collide.

The science magazine Quanta published an article about some of the scientists working on the topic. Calling our universe a “bulging bubble,” the magazine explained, “The multiverse hypothesis arose out of efforts to understand the birth of our own universe…Physicists have a hard time predicting how vacuum bubbles behave.”

“Bubbles also change rapidly — their walls approach the speed of light as they fly outward — and exhibit quantum mechanical randomness and ripple. Different assumptions about these processes give conflicting predictions, without being able to say which ones might resemble reality.”

Theory 2: Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

A second theory, first proposed by American physicist Hugh Everett in 1957, studies the behavior of matter. Taken to extremes in layman’s terms, his theory held that the results of an experiment can only be attributed to Earth and should not be extrapolated to the wider universe because the experiment only proves that it took place on Earth and nothing else. He posited that there could be infinite universes and earths out there.

Everett said that quantum effects cause the universe to constantly fracture. The idea is that every time you make a decision—put your left shoe on before your right, choose to save yogurt instead of cheese—the universe splits. This means that in the course of one human’s lifetime alone, they have split the universe millions, if not billions, of times. This theory sits well in your head—especially when it comes to making tough decisions: at least there’s a version of you out there that’s taking advantage of the opportunities you’ve turned down.

Other theories

cold spot

But the theories don’t stop there. There’s the “cosmic microwave background theory” that questions whether a “cold spot” in the sky — a part of the sky that’s unusually cold and large compared to its expected properties — could actually be a blue spot that from around two universes actually collided billions of years ago.

NBC said: “In 2004, astronomers using NASA’s WMAP satellite discovered a cold spot in the constellation Eridanus that appears to be almost 100 times cooler than your typical cool spots. It’s also huge, stretching 1,000 times wider than the Milky Way.

“But this is not just an observed outlier. Models predict that the cosmos should be uniform over such large scales. They also predict that only one in 50 universes will naturally produce such a cold region — a probability some astronomers think is too small to be comfortable with.”

string theory

Next comes “string theory,” which is part of the “Theory of Everything,” which views elementary particles as strands of energy that oscillate and release more strands of energy. The idea is that these constantly multiplying strings create different dimensions.

In an article published in The New York Times, celebrated theoretical physicist Michio Kaku said: “In physics, the concept of a multiverse is a key element of a leading field of study based on the theory of everything. It’s called string theory, and that’s the focus of my research. In this image, subatomic particles are just different tones on a tiny, vibrating string, which explains why we have so many of them.

“According to this thinking, the universe is a symphony of strings. String theory, on the other hand, postulates an infinite number of parallel universes, of which our universe is only one.”

backwards theory

In March 2019, a group of scientists from the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Ontario, Canada, and the University of Manchester published a report dealing with symmetry in the universe, examining the theory that an anti-universe was also created during it became the big bang when the universe was created.

In the introduction to the 25-page report detailing their findings and research, they say: “We also briefly discuss the natural origin of the matter-antimatter asymmetry within this picture and ways of explaining the cosmological perturbations.”

The basic idea of ​​their theory is that there are fundamental symmetries in interactions in nature: charge, parity and time. The fact that this is true leads them to investigate whether there is a greater symmetry in the universe: perhaps a mirror universe exists.

The theory is particularly exciting because it helps explain some of the dark matter, which makes up about 27 percent of dark energy (which makes up 68 percent of the universe).

So could there be parallel universes?

Put simply, yes. Given that there’s still so much we don’t know about the universe – including some major scientific gaps in our human understanding – there could be parallel universes. But it is wrong to assume that these parallel universes would look like a different version of our own.

There’s also no evidence to support the multiverse theory — until now — instead, it’s something some scientists are starting to work on.

Geraint Lewis, a cosmologist at the University of Sydney, explained that the multiverse “doesn’t really have a mathematical basis – it’s a collection of ideas… In the cycle of science it remains in the hypothesis stage and has to become a robust proposal before we can really understand the consequences.”

But there is a little bit of hope. Speaking to National Geographic, science writer Tom Siegfried said, “Unless a whole lot of physics that we know is pretty firmly established isn’t wrong, you can’t travel to these multiverses… But who knows? A thousand years from now, I’m not saying someone can’t figure out something you never imagined.”

“The frontiers of physics have gradually expanded to include increasingly abstract (and once metaphysical) concepts such as a round earth, invisible electromagnetic fields, slowing down of time at high speeds, quantum interference, curved space and black holes,” Professor Tegmark wrote. “In recent years, the concept of a multiverse has joined that list. It is based on proven theories such as relativity and quantum mechanics and fulfills both of the basic criteria of an empirical science: it makes predictions and it is falsifiable.”

Everything Everywhere All At Once is now in select theaters Could the all-everywhere-at-once multiverse be real? Here’s the science behind the film

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