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We May Already be Immortal-Welcome to the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics
We May Already be Immortal-Welcome to the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics
Although we may very well be on the verge of indefinite life spans for all on this Earth, there is an interesting theory that states that our world-line isn't the only one that exists, but might be one in an infinite, nearly identical
sub-infinity of what is termed the multi-verse. Because of this fact, although everyone you have known from childhood who was at that time over 80 years of age is no longer alive in this world, they may all be alive in others. Sounds
extremely far fetched? It has been stated that those who believe they understand quantum mechanics probably haven’t really thought it through. Well,let’s give it a shot here.
Every time there is an event that has an equal probability of happening,it can be said that our world line splits. If a coin is being tossed, in one reality it falls as heads, and in another it falls as tails. The world lines have to represent every possible event, not just the most probable.If you play the lottery, in which you have a 1 in 100,000,000 chance, than the world line splits 100,000,000 ways, so every possible combination of numbers is represented.
You win the lottery in one world and loose in the rest. Sounds daunting to say
the least, but Dr. Steven Hawkings goes much further.
The way the electron orbits a hydrogen atom ( it is the simplest) isn’t anything like the way the moon orbits the Earth. The electron doesn’t trace out an orbit in the way we like to think of it in the macro world, the electron creates a shell around the nucleus that is an electro-static force field. As a matter of fact, reality
as we know it depends on this property of physics. How this is interpreted is what is fascinating. The electron basically is at every possible position in the shell that is possible.
The wave property is said to represent nearly or perhaps and infinite number of electrons in coherence in this reality. Once the electron is disturbed, or ejected from the atom, it behaves like a single particle. This happens all over the known universe all the time. Hawkings has
interpreted this as the universe splicing off an unimaginable number of times into alternate timelines in which every possible position
of every particle in this universe is represented in the diverging time lines.
This is also observable with sub-atomic particles in the famous double slit experiment.
The setup is an electron gun, a barrier with two slits cut in it, and a target on the other side that can measure the electron. Fire one single electron at either slit and the electron converts
to a wave and go through both slits imultaneously and creates interference patterns on the other side. This has been more easily explained, as I understand it, by stating that
the electron splits into a myriad number of alternate space/time lines and navigates all possible paths from the electron gun to the target, therefore going through both slits an infinite number of times. The pattern
you see on the target, is where the electrons (from all realities) hit the target more and less than the mean statistical norm. All possibilities are represented. After the pattern appears, only one electron is present in our reality. All the others collapse into their individual realities and the alternaties
diverge never to have contact with each other again, at least not that we know of.
What could the above have to do with "immortality"? Remember, all possible outcomes, no matter how improbable are represented in alternity. Imagine that at age 20, there is a 5% probability that you could die. That translates to 1 in 20. In one reality, you could have died and in the other 19 you would have lived.
At age 50 or so, the probability is higher. Let’s say 1 in 10. In one world line, you are dead and in the other 9 you are alive.
Age 85, it might be 5 out of 8 world lines you are dead. But, you would only be aware of the world lines that you are alive in (barring a spirit, or maybe a spirit that operates across dimensional barriers in association with living bodies, all pure speculation, but who are we to say how the multi-verse is designed?).
So, is there some possibility that you could be alive when you reach 150 (assuming no breakthroughs in longevity beyond the normal)? We know of no individuals that we can verify that have. You would only be able to verify it to yourself.
As time goes on, the probability that you would die goes up dramatically. You or I might find a 98% probability of being dead at 105 years.
You or I would only be aware of the 2% probability of being alive. All other "realities" in which we are dead don’t matter to us.
As time goes on, the probability of death would be 1 trillion to 1 against being alive. If there is a slight probability of being alive, that would be a certainty in an infinity of realities.
In 1 reality out of a trillion would be the only reality that we’d be aware of. None of the others would be relevant. This would go on until only 1 in a google realities would we find ourselves alive in. The prospect would be that we would exist in only extremely improbable worlds in which we would be the only individuals seemingly immortal in a world populated by people who we would witness dying all around us after several centuries.
As we would continue to exist in realities that splice off from former ones, extremely improbable explanations would come to bear to explain our strange "fortune". Extremely rare anomalies of cosmic radiation mutating our DNA just right, an extremely improbable combination of unusual medicines, herbs, ext that reacted in just the right way with our metabolism.
As we would continue to die off in more "common" realities, our very existence that continues in the "fringe" realities would be extremely improbable, almost miraculous, or magical.
THE POSSIBLE DARK SIDE
As exciting as this may sound, what if the following scenario happened?
One is dying of cancer, and is in pain. There is a 99.97% probability that the person in question will die in the next month, therefore bringing final relief. There is a .03% that this would not happen, and following the logic of quantum immortality, the only worlds that one is conscious of are the more improbable ones that one still exists in.
Now, hopefully, in this scenario the only possible way to survive would be total remission. I would hate to think that one would survive indefinitely in pain, as one dies in all but 1 in a google or a googleplex worlds.
It would probably be impossible for a body to live indefinitely with an all consuming disease like either cancer, Alzheimer's or anything that is totally destructive. Unfortunately, the nature of quantum mechanics is that when a world splices off, it is (at least to known science) impossible to research the outcomes and verify the statistical possibilities of fringe outcomes.
TAKING CONTROL OF THE OUTCOMES.
Remember the lottery? Here is a thought experiment that would no doubt test ones faith in the many worlds theory of quantum physics. But if it is true, than winning the lottery would be just the beginning .
This would require the construction of a "quantum lottery machine".
Sounds like sci-fi, doesn't it?
It is fairly simple. you build a machine that connects to a computer that would be programmed to compare lottery results from a drawing to the numbers on your ticket that you buy for that drawing.
When the lottery is drawn and the results known, a comparison is made.
If your ticket dosn't match the winning numbers, than the computer releases a lethal gas into the chamber that you reside in.
If you win, you live.
You live in 1 in 100,000,000 realities, and die in all the rest. Provided the theory is valid. Remember, this is a thought expiriment and not encouraging any such recklesness.
This experiment isn’t one that a totally rational person with a reasonably good existence would care to do, for it is extremely high risk. If the theory of quantum mechanics in regards to the many worlds interpretation is flawed, than the outcome would be undesirable. We humans only know a little, and our ideas about nature have had to been revised though out history.
For me right now, at age 50 in good health with a job, home, and good companion, and living a good engaging lifestyle with varied interest’s in writing ( like now) composing music, surfing the net, going to the gym, and other interesting extra curricular activities (nudge nudge, say no more! Know what I mean?), than the experiment would be too risky. But here is a scenario in which it could make perfect sense.
It is the year 2040 and none of the really cool breakthroughs in life extension that many of us hoped for have happened. The likes of bio-Luddites such as Leon Kass and Francis Fukyuama have been successful at slowing down the progress of life extension, based on an extremely narrow view of what it means to be human, and that tampering with genetics would change that. So,I am 85 years of age, and have been privy only to enough new technology to make old age somewhat less frail and unpleasant than in the late 20th and earlier part of the 21st centuries. I am retired, play music at clubs for extra money and fun. But, life is getting harder (except, you know, sexual function would still be declining, so one thing isn’t getting as hard as often if you know what I mean) and the prospect of not being able to be fully independent is becoming more and more a real possibility. The mentalities of the dark ages are rearing their ugly, intellectually truncated, superstitious tendencies, are putting pressure to limit technology even more. Not much of a future at this point. Even though the theory of quantum immortality is popular, the way it can manifest itself in progressively older, infirm, improbable existence, isn’t anymore appealing than a natural death in a classical universe theory.
Why not put the theory to the ultimate test? The lottery has been a thought experiment up to now, in 2040 A.D., as far as anyone knows (might have been done in secret). It is a thought, an experiment that, at worse, would not prove anything and result in the death of a declining 85 year old in a declining civilization. At best, an 85 year old who emerges as a multi-million aire and with proof, at least for myself, that the theory is correct.
Or, am I just lucky.
Perhaps, now that I got my hundred or so million dollars (in 2006 constant dollars) I can try it again. If I win a lottery two times in a row, than I am almost certain that I am eliminating myself from undesirable realities and navigating to more desirable ones. Winning a lot of money is only the beginning of this.
So, I win the lottery twice. Now, I am world famous. I haven’t revealed my quantum lottery machine secret, and will not until I can accomplish some more interesting feats.
With my money, I can now take a small portion of my fortune and hire some bio-tech and nano-tech personal and pay them mega-bucks to develop some extremely improbable human enhancement technology. I say improbable because in the world I am describing, much of this type of technology is regulated because of popular support for neo-luddite thinking.
Now, I have my scientist working in South America, or the Far East, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on some islands.
I instruct the scientists to take my DNA sample and develop some new age reversing, human enhancement therapies/engineering for me. To redesign me into what I want to be.
It is clearly understood that this would take years and I would die (at least in many of the worlds I was alive in) before any result’s could be achieved. Radical break throughs in a short time would prove to be extremely improbable.
I stated improbable, and as far as I would be concerned, no problem.
I put the scientist's to work, explaining what I want and that they are to try a variety of approaches, or put a variety of choices into a "lottery" of sorts, and choose randomly. Why not? More potential sub-groups of infinity to work out solutions.
I build a better version of my "lottery" machine and cut myself off from external realitie(s) so I can remain in an isolated Hilbert space (may want to google that one, can't go into that without 20 extra pages) unaware of how the reality chips are falling.
After my people work on ideas and potential applications for a limited time period, say 2 weeks, they send information from a computer on site (or one of the sites) to mine. The program is simple. They acknowledge success or failure. In, probably, most of a billion possible realities, they will acknowledge failure.
In one in a billion potential realities they will acknowledge success.
I will only live in the one in a billion. Still, an infinite number of realities.
Now, the first two problems have been eliminated through focused, conscious navigation through this new understanding of reality.
I am economically secure, and have brand new vigor. My "age" is now closer to 70 than 85. 70 in the year 2045, even after the envious malefactors have been successful at slowing progress, is still better than age 60 at the end of the last century.
I have had minimal effect on most of the realities, I just simply have collapsed my sense of self to more desirable realities.
Even now, this moment, realities are diverging and new ones are coming into being that are, mostly probable, and also some very improbable, perhaps, almost impossible by our understanding.
But, if the theory of quantum immortality is valid, than all of us will someday end up in extremely improbable realities, and perhaps, in a different interpretation, our own heavens and hells.
Now, in the more improbable realities I have partially engineered in 2040 A.D., I can give this wonderful technology and also the basic history of how I came to win the lottery two times, engineer improbable human life extension, and one more thing before I just rest for a while, to this group of realities.
The last thing to do for that time being is this. Hire some physicist's to work on a communication device that can do the following..
Maintain contact with all diverging realities from the time the first one is turned on.
The way this is done is just the same as before. Sorting probable outcomes. After that is accomplished, than civilization(s) in all (or most) of the diverging realities will maintain contact with each other.
In a reality where a father, mother, wife, husband, child, any or all relatives have died (after activation) there would be others in which they would still be alive. An infinite number. And they would all be in contact with each other.
I would say that is a good start, for with an infinite number of people in an infinite number of civilizations, the speed of improvement would accelerate once again.
The previous little thought expirement is the foundation of a little sci-fi story I am writing called "Hal Valdemont and the Quantum Lottery Machine" in which I chronicle the progression of this concept in an alternate world starting in the mid 1970's and how the diverging realities result in quantum computers in some realities in the 1980's, replicators and teleporters before the turn of the century.
That's it for for now.
7/1/2008 3:52 pm
My intuition has sort of suggested me for quite a time now that there are other worlds within this world....but I must say I find most of your round about explanation...a bit obtuse. I am keen on clear sciences...style Toulmin or Dawkins...hope you might find success with that sci fi book...|