Do Parallel Universes exist?

By, Kayla Parker

In order to prove if parallel universes exist, you have to study Quantum Physics, which is thought to be the smallest level of matter in the universe.


The behavior of quantum particles is erratic, it makes our understanding of probability become questionable. I defies many of the rules of science, instead of the particles going one direction at different times, they all go different directions at the same time. Nothing is quite as it seems with quantum physics and we have no idea of what knowledge that it contains, thus meaning our understanding of the universe and what we think we know about it is challenged.

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The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

Physicists studying quantum physics have observed some peculiar things, such as the particles at this level of matter take different forms when needed. For example, they have seen photons acting as particles and waves. Even single photons have this ‘shape shifting’ quality. This is known as the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle was designed by Werner Heisenberg, who suggested that just by observing quantum matter we can affect its behavior. So, we can never be certain of a quantum objects nature and traits such as location and velocity. This is partly what makes it so hard to study the quantum particles. Physicists instead have to use thought experiments based on the real experiments that have been made at the quantum level.

The Copenhagen Interpretation

Schrodinger’s Cat is a popular known experiment, most people do not understand what it was trying to prove. What Schrodinger did was he put his can in a box with a hammer machine, poison, and radioactive material for an hour, just enough time for the radioactive material to start decaying, but little enough time so that it was possible that it wouldn’t decay. This is representing the Copenhagen Interpretation which states that a particle can exist in multiple states at one time but is forced to pick one when we observe it. Just like Schrodingers cat, you don’t know if the cat is alive or dead, so theoretically it is both and it is forced to pick one when you open the box.


When compared to the other studies of science, quantum physics seems quite ridiculous, it is a relatively new study dating back to only 1900. Maybe the right theory that will explain quantum physics hasn’t been suggested yet, maybe the person who will propose it hasn't been born yet. But when you look at all of the theories, all of them could be true at the same time, even the contradicting ones. The Copenhagen theory is one of the most comforting and most believable theories that have been put out there, even though it frustrates scientists that the particles could exist in more than one state at a time, it only puts our understanding of the universe slightly escue.

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The Many Worlds Theory

In 1954 Hugh Everett III came up with an idea that stated that there could be other universes just like ours. He came up with this idea while he was a student a Princeton University. His idea was that the universes were related to ours, they branch off from ours as we branch off from others. Everett made a suggestion saying that when a physicist measures a quantum object the universe duplicates itself, this would explain why the quantum object can measure as both a particle and a wave because in one universe the physicist will measure it as a particle and in the other universe the physicist will measure it as a wave form. The Many Worlds Theory is somewhat disturbing, suggesting that we are just passengers along for the ride in the universe, we have no power over what outcome that we get. It also contradicts the idea of Occam’s Razor which states that the simplest explanation is the correct explanation.


In the Many Worlds Theory time does not exist, instead it jumps and skips. Instead of in a line, the time is in branches. In one universe you win and in another universe you lose, in one universe you're alive and in another one you are dead. If there are infinite universes the laws of probability don’t add up. It would mean that every answer to every problem is definitely going to happen somewhere, this leads to a mathematical meltdown. It would make it so that we would no longer be able to use quantum problems the way that we do in our theories. Elementary particles can be in two places at once therefore you can be in two places at once. Your fate depends on which universe you live in, but you will never be able to know which quantum reality it is.


String Theory

String theory explains the entire universe by exclaiming that all building blocks(resembled by rubber bands or strings) of matter and all of the universes forces exist on a subquantum level and how much matter that is on that level depends on the vibrations in the strings. This makeup takes place over 11 different dimensions. String theory is showing that parallel universes do exist, but unlike the Many Worlds Theory it explains that the universes come in contact with one another and every time they do interact, a big bang occurs, the same kind that created our universe.

The Theory of Everything

Scientists have been “reverse engineering” the universe and studying each level hoping that when they get the smallest level (quantum physics) everything else before that will make sense. As the levels get smaller and smaller they get harder to study. Once they get to the smallest level, it will answer all physical questions. This is called the Theory of Everything, being Albert Einstein's suggestion. Though he was never able to to find the answer before he died physicists believe that they are close to finding the answer, if quantum physics is the smallest and last level of the universe that is, some physicists think not. One question that is often asked is, “As our understanding of quantum physics deepen, how will it change our perception of the real world?” The answer is, we don’t know. My guess is that when the discover the answer to the Theory of Everything, everything will be different because everything will make sense, and that will be something new for everyone. We will be aware of all of the things happening outside of our universe, and everything will feel even smaller than it already is.

The Cosmic Inflation Theory

The Cosmic Inflation Theory states that our universe is just one out of many in a large cosmic sea. They sit side by side unseen to each other. A goldfish's universe is it’s fishbowl, it’s the only thing it knows, it doesn’t know that there are other things beside the fishbowl and what it sees inside of it, Our universe could be our fishbowl, we don’t know that there is anything outside of our universe.The particles in the universe can only be arranged a certain number of ways, maybe there is another universe, far away, that looks like ours, only slightly different.
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Thought Experiments

Quantum suicide is a thought experiment involving a gun that is rigged with something that can measure the spin of a quantum particle. If the quantum particle is spinning clockwise the gun will shoot, if it is spinning counterclockwise the gun will only click. Let’s say a man sits down, puts the gun to his head and shoots, it only clicks and he is still alive. But in a parallel universe he is dead now. Everytime he shoots the gun and it clicks in this universe the universe splits in two. One with him alive, and the other with what could have happened, this thought experiment is proving the Many Worlds Theory.


The quantum level is the smallest level of matter that scientists have detected so far, it is nearly impossible for scientists to study this level using the traditional methods of science inquiry. This is why in order to study and learn about quantum physics, physicists must use thought experiments like the one mentioned above. Thought experiments mean that the experiments are only carried out hypothetically. But all of the experiments are backed up by data observed in quantum physics which make the experiment outcome more likely. Now based on the thought experiment mentioned above, you might be wondering,“ So how come people who have attempted to kill themselves aren't immortal?” The answer is, they might be, just in the other universe, in this universe we got stuck with the dead person, with that half of the universe split. But this thought experiment is only trying to prove one theory, there are many other theories out there.


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Vocabulary

  • Photons: small packets of light
  • Matter: any physical substance
  • Cosmic: in relation to the universe
  • Quantum: a very small or discrete quantity of energy