Arthur C Clarke said “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
For my final assignment for the A363, I’m writing a short story that includes a mirror, through which a missing woman may or may not have travelled to a parallel world. Because I’m a nerd, this is ample excuse for me to research parallel worlds.
First I delved into Neal Stephenson’s speculative novel “Anathem”. Even taking this more accessible route, I struggled at first. It's the first book of its kind that I've sunk my cerebral teeth into, and for the first 100 pages or so, it was like wading through molasses - slow and exhausting, but when I was able to stop for a moment and take a sip, sweet and stimulating.
Once the characters began to come alive in my mind, the concepts - maths and quantum mechanics, geometrodynamics, astrophysics, and more, gripped me and I found myself unable to put the book down. I actually gained at least a surface understanding of some very challenging subjects. The first 100 pages took longer to read than the last 800. Perhaps fiction is the best way to learn complicated concepts after all.
Next I tackled Michio Kaku’s “Parallel Worlds”, a non-fiction book that explains theories about the Big Bang, the properties and theories about our universe, and the likelihood that our universe is one of many worlds in a layered multiverse, nestled mere millimetres apart. I thought I would be moving from mysticism into pure science, but quickly realised that many scientists believe that the universe/multiverse was designed rather than created accidentally.
“String theory allows us to view the subatomic particles as notes on a vibrating string: the laws of chemistry correspond to the melodies one can play on these strings; the universe is a symphony of strings; and the mind of God can be viewed as cosmic music vibrating through hyperspace. If this analogy is valid, one must ask the next
question: is there a composer?”
“[T]he universe does have a point: to produce sentient creatures like us who can observe it so that it exists.”
“Countless worlds exist in deep space devoid of life, much less of intelligence. It should make us appreciate how delicate life is, and what a miracle it is that it flourishes on Earth.”
Although I rarely felt that I fully understood Kaku’s arguments, I did gain new insight into the workings of our universe and the point of investing in huge projects such as the Large Hadron Collider. Eventually, probably at the stage at which we develop into a peaceful, egalitarian and technologically superior species, the stars will go out and our universe will freeze. The LHC and other such experiments aim to understand our universe and move closer to being able to create an escape hatch to a parallel world or travel back in time, when that becomes necessary for our survival.
Fascinating reads, both, and I feel excited by physics in a way I didn’t before I began.