I’ll keep it brief. Someday humanity will discover how to travel elsewhere in the multiverse, and when that happens, space astronauts discovering new worlds will be terrified by what they find. Therefore, it is vital that we discover as many infinite parallel universes as possible before we develop the ability to visit them. Myself, I have listed three thousand universes. It’s a considerable head start, but you need to help.
- If everybody in the world were to create just one universe today, we would have discovered 7,400,003,000 by nightfall.
- If everyone were to create just one a day for one year, we would have discovered 2,701,000,003,000 by nightfall, a year from now.
- If everyone were to create just one a day for a hundred years, we would have discovered 98,651,324,000,003,000 by nightfall, a century from now.
That’s a lot. But don’t think we can’t do it – we only need seven and a half billion creators per year to meet our goal. That means that the largest of these figures is actually the most viable, since the population is going to be much higher than seven and a half billion in 2117. The longer we do this, the easier it gets.
We could go even further – if only three thousand more people were to create three thousand universes, we’d have an extra nine million on top of the ninety-eight and a half quadrillion and three thousand. The future is within reach.
The multiverse is full of wonders beyond our wildest dreams. So let’s make sure that future travelers will experience it with the joyful squeals they deserve to make.
What is a parallel universe?
A parallel universe is a universe which exists parallel to our own, where different outcomes have resulted in a different universe. Similar terms include “alternate reality” and “alternate universe.”
Physicists argue that there are multiple parallel universes which together comprise a “Multiverse,” a universe of universes. Apparently, the behaviors of subatomic entities points to the existence of the Multiverse, which is also attested by misspelled names, misremembered events, and imaginary movies.
While this is all very interesting, it doesn’t matter here.
What does matter is that Multiverse theory asserts that there is a parallel universe which exists for every possible thing that could ever happen. In other words, there are an infinite amount of parallel universes.
Many people, thinking of all the universes where they must be either murderers or celebrities, have thought about what this means. Since everything has happened somewhere, since every version of yourself has made every possible decision, they have said that nothing matters, there is no free will, and there is no morality. Since everything already exists, they have said that there is no such thing as an original idea. Nothing is real, and nobody ever dies.
That’s what they say. While we’re not going to address those implications here, we are going to explore what some of these infinite universes could be.
Precisely how many infinite universes are there?
The term ‘infinite universe’ means that there is no limit to the amount of universes which exist. That said, the universe itself is not infinite, as far as we know, so it is absolutely possible to estimate how many infinite possibilities it contains. There are two questions we can ask in order to reach this estimate. First, what is the largest known number, and secondly, what are all the different things an object can do?
What is the largest known number?
It’s worth investigating the largest known number because, by definition, the largest number ever discovered is the closest we have ever gotten to discovering infinity.
So, what is the largest number ever discovered?
When mathematicians try to discover large numbers, they use mathematical principles to create equations. The numbers discovered through this method, such as Graham’s Number and TREE(3), are so large that they couldn’t even be written in full if every subatomic entity in the universe were used to represent every digit. We, however, are interested in numbers which could be displayed in this universe, so let’s forget about all that.
An alternate figure, which it is possible to display properly, is the largest known prime number. A prime number is a number which can only be divided by a one or by itself (for example, the numbers 5 and 7). Because mathematicians avidly strive to discover this number, apparently, it gets bigger every few years. Since January 2016, it has been 274207281 – 1, which was discovered by a team led by Dr. Curtis Cooper at the University of Central Missouri. It contains 22,338,618 digits, which can easily be viewed as a txt file.
However, the size of the text file which contains this prime number is 21.7 megabytes, which means it is 182,032,793.6 bits large. A bit is always represented by a 1 or a 0, which means that this massive file size is also a massive number, which exists on a computer system, which exist in this universe. By definition, this means that it could be displayed in it as well.
And yet 21.7 megabytes isn’t even that big for a modern home computer, which can handle amounts of information millions of times larger than that. And supercomputers do even more. As of November 2016, the world’s most powerful computer is the SunWay TaihuLight in Wuxi, China, which is so powerful that it can’t even be described in terms comprehensible to people without degrees in computer science. If we want to see the largest known number, we’ll have to display all that computing power in 1s and 0s.
The simplest way to do this would be to run a program on the system, which would translate all of its unused computing power as a single number. But there’s a problem with this method: since it wouldn’t be able to translate the power used by the program itself, we would have to create an even more powerful computer to read all the data from the first one. But that would make the new computer the new record-holder as most powerful, so we’d have to create a new one to read that one, etc, etc. It would never end.
A better method would be to write down all the numbers displayed, and once a few years have passed, spend a minute or two to copy an amount equivalent to the data which had been used to run the program. Once that is done, all you need to do is convert the 0s and 1s to 9s, and soon enough you’ll have the largest number known to civilization. From that point on, if you want, you could also record the 0s and 1s of every other computer in existence, and then every number in every printed book, and then every manuscript, booklet, handbill, flyer, hand-out, post-it note, napkin, serial code, bar code, desk, tree, and bathroom stall.
Another option, however, which would bring about the same result, would be to simply write the number 9 every moment for the rest your life. Or you could even just type a bunch of 9s on Microsoft Word and print it forever. But somehow, I don’t think that that would be as much fun as searching for all the numbers in the world and converting them to 9s.
What are all the different things an object can do?
The way to figure this out is to think about all the places an object can go, within a specific amount of time, if it moves as fast as it theoretically could. For every probable variation there is one parallel universe. If we were to think about humans in this way, for example, the thing to do would be to figure out all the places we could go if we were all as fast as Usain Bolt. However, I think it’s better to jump to even smaller objects, which will return us so many possible universes that we’ll have to write the numbers down with spaces instead of commas.
Let’s think about the possibilities open to an atom. This is the smallest substance in the universe (besides the ones which are even smaller). As nothing in the universe can ever travel faster than the speed of light (besides the subatomic stuff), any atom could theoretically travel at that speed, which is 299 792 458 meters per second.
Therefore, the amount of parallel universes which exist per atom, per second, is equivalent to all the possible locations it could occupy in a sphere with a radius of 299 792 458 m. Assuming that an atom is exactly 100 picometers in size, and that the atom doesn’t travel more than once, and that the atom doesn’t undergo any chemical change whatsoever, and that no two atoms interact in any way, and that no possible location overlaps with another, because it’s much easier that way, there must be about 1 128 627 730 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 universes which exist per atom, per second.
Now, let’s look at the universe.
Nothing in the universe ever travels faster than the speed of light, but we’ll have to find a way to do so if ever we want to travel to the stars in a practical way. Therefore, such a method must exist. And since we don’t know the hard limits of faster-than-light travel, we must assume that it is possible for anything in the universe to travel anywhere else in the universe instantly, without any time interval. While this means that we cannot measure it according to any existing unit of time, for convenience’s sake we’ll say that the atoms are travelling in “infinitely zero time.”
The observable universe has a diameter of 93 000 000 000 light years. Making the same minor assumptions as we did previously, the amount of parallel universes existing per atom, in infinitely zero time, within the observable universe, is 3 566 329 580 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000.
And as the total size of the universe is estimated to be at least 250 times larger than the observable universe, that gives us a final total of 891 582 395 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 universes which exist per atom, in infinitely zero time.
Therefore, if we ever achieve our most confident goal of discovering 98 651 324 009 003 000 universes by the end of the century, we will have discovered a nine duotrigintillion, thirty-seven untrigintillion, seven hundred thirteen trigintillion, four hundred twenty-one novemvigintillion, forty-four octovigintillion, seven hundred forty-four septenvigintillion, seventy-three sexvigintillion, two hundred eighty-one quinvigintillion, one hundred six quattuorvigintillion, three hundred eighty-five trevigintillion, four hundred thirty-seven duovigintillion, three hundred sixty-three unvigintillion, two hundred four vigintillion, six hundred ninety-three novemdecillion, six hundred seven octodecillion, seven hundred fifty-one septendecillion, nine hundred sixty-six sexdecillion, three hundred forty-four quindecillion, one hundred five quattuordecillion, one hundred thirteen tredecillion, five hundred fifty-one duodecillion, two hundred seventy-nine undecillion, sixty-five decillion, seventy nonillion, six hundred ten octillion, forty-six septillion, five hundred twenty-two sextillion, seven hundred thirty-three quintillion, nine hundred twenty-four quadrillion, four hundred ninety-five trillion, eighty-one billion, five hundred fifty million, eight hundred thirty-four thousand, two hundred and thirty-sixth of the universes which exist per every atom in the universe, in infinitely zero time.
Not a bad start.
How is it possible to discover a parallel universe?
While at first blush it feels intimidating to try discovering a parallel universe, it’s actually not that hard. Since there is a universe for every single physical possibility, all you have to do is think of all the things which will have ever been physically possible.
The easy ones come quickly – just think of, say, a universe where your hand was slightly to the left, or to the right, or making bunny fingers. If it is possible, it must exist. Although it defies all known laws of propriety and logic, for example, there must be a universe where the Pope suddenly starts dancing in the middle of Mass, without his psychological state being in any way different than it is in our own universe.
Besides these really obvious universes, you could also hypothesize alternate histories or societies. Every work of fiction ever made which does not involve magic definitely exists, for example, and every conjectured alternate history, no matter how unrealistic it may seem. Everything in the universe has an equal chance of being immensely important, or immensely insignificant.
That said, the majority of alternate universes are probably those which bear absolutely no bearing to our own reality. Not because the societies in these worlds are so different, but because the physical properties are. There must be universes which are composed of nothing but floating atoms, or no atoms, or all atoms. Or universes where objects suddenly dematerialize or explode. These universes may be less fun to think up individually, as much of it would just be a matter of saying an atom is here rather than there, but it would be a rewarding exercise to develop a method to list these efficiently.
The big challenge is to discover where the limits are. Are the laws of nature identical throughout the universe? Is magic possible? Some multiverse theories are anchored on the idea that the laws of physics are different in different universes, and that those universes are, in fact, the consequences of these different laws. Myself, I verge towards assuming that the rules are the same wherever you go, though the list I have drafted does not fully reflect that. It’s for you to decide for yourself what to think (or for the scientists, I suppose).
A final thing to ponder is to ask why our universe is so well ordered, if anything which is physically possible is possible. The easy answer would be to say that this universe only seems so well ordered because it is the only one we know, but that doesn’t satisfy me. After all, there must be an infinite amount of other universes which seemed to be coherent too, until they suddenly exploded for some reason, or until everyone’s hat disappeared.
It could be that we are among the lucky few who live in a world which is blessed with making sense, in which case, we ought to cherish our good fortune and prepare to share it with the people who face other realities (unless that’s actually a bad idea). Although our universe may indeed be among those which will suddenly disappear in five years, until then, we must savor what we have. I know I will.
How could I wrap my head around the infinite possibilities of the multiverse?
Easy. Just slow down for a second and think about yourself. Think about your feelings, your thoughts, your dreams, your past, your future. Do that, and you will get a good sense of what ‘one’ is.
Get a good sense of yourself, and then double it. Think of another person, and create her personality. Imagine the interactions you two share. That’s what ‘two’ is.
Double it. Think of the four new personalities. Double it; think of eight. Double it, double it, double it. You’re your own best barometer; the best way to think about other things is to think about them in the same way you think about yourself.
Think about a whole group at once, attributing the same complexity to everyone, and you will have created a society. Think of a group of groups of groups, and you will have developed a sense of the entire world, and then of the universe, of infinite 1s and 0s which are each a whole world to themselves. Not just humans and animals, but plants, and microbes, rocks and waters, all the things in creation which may not have life, but are still there, and contain their own multitudes.
Do all that, and in time, you might be able to contemplate a fraction of eight hundred and ninety-one septentrigintillion universes per atom, in infinitely zero time.
Piece of cake.
This is a satirical website. I am not a professional scientist and have only gone through the calculations above because I think large numbers are funny. Do not use any “fact” mentioned on this page as a legitimate source of information, regarding any scientific theory of any kind, much less multiverse theory. Pay attention to real scientists.
If, for whatever reason, you’re actually interested in the interesting theories physicists have thought up to make the case for the Multiverse, I recommend you read up some Max Tegmark and Stephen Hawking, and many others, and learn about oscillatory multiverses, fecund multiverses, mathematical multiverses, quilted multiverses, inflationary multiverses, brane multiverses, cyclic multiverses, landscape multiverses, quantum multiverses, holographic multiverses, simulated multiverses, and the ultimate multiverse. You could do that, but remember, as far as we’re concerned, it all comes down to the same thing.