Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Multiverse #2: Infinite Improbability

In my last post I covered why I don’t like the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics that is required for the existence of an alternate universe.  In this post, I would like to drive home just how ridiculously improbable the interaction with that universe is.

I have established that every second (or every period of time shorter than a second, for that matter) an infinite number of alternate universes are created for every atom in existence.  Thus there are a constantly increasing infinite number of alternate universes.

This leads to an interesting point: the likelihood of finding any one universe is literally infinitely small.  Imagine if you roll a die: there are six faces, so there is a 1/6 chance of any one face landing up.  Imagine now that you roll a die with an infinite number of faces.  Now what is the chance of a specific face landing up?  One over infinity.  Which, in mathematics, is treated as zero.  Of course, it isn’t actually zero.  One side HAS to show up.  But it’s a number so small it’s hard to imagine.

So it is already infinitely unlikely that any particular universe is found.  But consider the other ridiculous coincidences: the technology in the other universe is slightly better, but all of the people in this generation have the same DNA and same family tree, but a divergence is beginning in this generation with people marrying different people and sometimes having kids instead of being barren, etc.  To find a universe that meets those kinds of parameters is even more unlikely that the previously established one-over-infinity number.  Yikes.

So how did Walter find this universe through the window?  It stands to reason that, since he was dedicated to improving the well-being of mankind, he would want a universe that was slightly ahead technologically (not too much, or else he would not be able to understand what he was seeing).  It also stands to reason that he would want to view a universe in which he is able to recognize himself working in the same lab.  So his motivation in looking for what he found makes sense.

But how did he actually find it?  There are an infinite number of universes to browse through.  You know that impatient feeling you get when you search for something on Google and you don’t find it on the first page of results?  What if there were an infinite number of pages of results and you had to look through them all, and, oh-by-the-way, the number of results was increasingly exponentially every fraction of a second.  Yikes.

Ultimately, I forgive the show for all of this.  Because it’s fun to think about how some things could have been slightly different, and the alternate universe is a plot device that provides that.  So I suspend my disbelief.


  1. You have an interesting view on the cardinality of a multiverse. Infinity really is an interesting subject.

  2. This doesn't require multiple universes. If our universe was infinite (literally speaking) we could find every single possible combination of atoms there.

    If our universe was infinite, somewhere out there would be a world exactly like ours, but where some tiny detail would be different. There would be every possible combination out there somewhere. Actually there would be an infinite number of all the possible combinations. If the universe was infinite, there would be infinite number of yous (is that even a word?) somewhere up there! And not just clones of you, they would be exactly you!

    I'm kinda happy the universe isn't infinite.

  3. There are prolly better "universes" he could have found, i guess he stuck with the first really interesting one.

  4. I'd an infinite die would be a ball...

  5. thx for this interesting thread love the infinity talk keep it up

  6. Very cool. You should check out the p-brane theory, it helps to explain why gravity force decreases quickly with time and also explains dark matter in the universe. It proposes that there are 10 dimensions. It's all in Hawking's book, Universe in a Nutshell.

  7. Interesting take on this all. I've always been interested in this kind of stuff but it all seems so over my head.

  8. I enjoy reading about infinite theories and will eagerly await more from you!

  9. I agree with Timothy I love things like this