November 1, 2014
New Theory Suggests That Parallel Worlds Exist And Could Help Explain Quantum Mechanics
Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
When most people think of parallel worlds, their thoughts instantly turn to sci-fi TV shows such as Doctor Who or Star Trek, but researchers from Australia’s Griffith University and the University of California, Davis have presented a radical new theory based on the notion that such parallel universes not only exist, but interact with one another.Writing in the journal Physical Review X, Professor Howard Wiseman and Dr. Michael Hall from Griffith's Centre for Quantum Dynamics and Dr. Dirk-Andre Deckert from the UC-Davis Department of Mathematics submit that these worlds influence one another through a subtle force of repulsion, and that this interaction could explain the oddities of quantum theory.
“The idea of parallel universes in quantum mechanics has been around since 1957,” Professor Wiseman said in a statement. “In the well-known ‘Many Worlds Interpretation’, each universe branches into a bunch of new universes every time a quantum measurement is made. All possibilities are therefore realized – in some universes the dinosaur-killing asteroid missed Earth. In others, Australia was colonized by the Portuguese.”
However, in the ‘Many Worlds Interpretation’ that was first proposed by American physicist Hugh Everett over half a century ago, “critics question the reality of these other universes, since they do not influence our universe at all,” he said. “On this score, our ‘Many Interacting Worlds’ approach is completely different, as its name implies.”
According to the three boffins, their “Many-Interacting Worlds” approach proposes that the universe that we experience is just one of a gigantic number of worlds – some of which are nearly identical to ours, while others are vastly different. Each of these worlds are equally real and exist continuously through time, they added.
Furthermore, the scientists assert that these worlds each possess precisely defined properties, and that all quantum phenomena arise from a universal force of repulsion between similar or “nearby” worlds, which tends to make them more dissimilar. They even believe that their theory could eventually allow scientists to test for other worlds.
While quantum theory is required to explain how the universe works at the microscopic scale, and is believed to apply to all matter, the study authors admit that it has long been difficult to fully grasp, largely because it involved unusual phenomena that appear to violate the laws of cause and effect. Wiseman, Deckert and Dr. Hall believe that the “Many Interacting Worlds” approach could make this highly complex field of research easier to understand.
“The beauty of our approach is that if there is just one world our theory reduces to Newtonian mechanics, while if there is a gigantic number of worlds it reproduces quantum mechanics,” said Dr. Hall. “In between it predicts something new that is neither Newton's theory nor quantum theory. We also believe that, in providing a new mental picture of quantum effects, it will be useful in planning experiments to test and exploit quantum phenomena.”
“A surprising feature of our approach is that the formulation contains nothing that corresponds to the mysterious quantum wave function, except in the formal mathematical limit in which the number of worlds becomes infinitely large,” the authors wrote in the paper, which was published Oct. 23. “Conversely, Newtonian mechanics corresponds to the opposite limit of just one world. Thus, our approach incorporates both classical and quantum theory.”
If scientists are able to approximate quantum evolution using a finite number of worlds, it could have serious ramifications in the field of molecular dynamics, which is vital to understanding chemical reactions and the actions of drugs, Griffin University explained. Texas Tech University chemistry professor Bill Poirier, who was not involved in the research, praised the concepts and said that they were likely to engender future numerical breakthroughs.