This is not my usual post. It’s kind of a story and pure whimsy. Enjoy.
As well as being a systems thinker whose main interest is understanding clarity of vision I am a physicist. One of the topics that dominates the interest of the public is quantum theory –more than 112 years after the discovery of the core ideas.
Many self help gurus will tell you that they are long time students of quantum theory. What they mean is they are students of the interpretation of quantum theory, not the details. I doubt there is 1 of those folks (out of hundreds) who could do an elementary calculation such as tunneling behavior through a barrier.
Quantum behavior is odd at the atomic level. It produces behavior that at the verbal description level is paradoxical yet all the experiments verify the predictions. When you do the math all is clear. When you try to talk about it all is muddy. Part of the reason for this is that people try to extrapolate atomic level behavior to the macroscopic level. As if our bodies are acting like electrons; not likely.
All behavior in the quantum world tends to produce the same results from experiments. That is, predictions of theory always predict the same atomic behavior. This leads to many different verbal interpretations of the same data. You can talk about if forever because there are no measurable differences you can test for in those verbal interpretations.
One of the most interesting interpretations is the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Theory. This interpretation says that an atom experiment is made up of atomic events from many universes. Thus a quantum interference experiment is actually electrons from other universes interfering with electrons from ours. The key hypothesis here is that there are an infinite number of uncountable universes next to ours. We get to interact with these because at the atomic level there is ‘leakage’ between the universes.
You can take this further and ask how do we prove this? If we could show there are multiple universes the reality of MWI (Many Worlds Interpretation) would be established.
The whimsical idea is given to us by James Hogan in a book titled Otherwhen. The central notion here is that consciousness is inherently an atomic process. (This by the way is unknown at this time). Thus if there is leakage at the atomic level some parts of our consciousness could leak into other universes. The people in the story try to build amplifiers of the leaky signals of consciousness. They develop such powerful systems that they can transfer the consciousness of my self into the consciousness of my alter ego in another universe. In universes close to ours there is always an alter ego of mine. If I go to universes far enough away there is no alter ego for my consciousness to transfer to and nothing happens.
The heroes and heroines use this transfer to escape a world they no longer love.
Let’s get very whimsical here. Could this be true and from a probabilistic point of view could there be rare events where there is a transfer of not only the consciousness but the whole body to another universe? At first glance this seems quiet silly but remember the documented case (many witnesses) of the Austrian diplomat in the 1870’s who walked around his carriage and disappeared.
Have you ever had a discussion with your spouse or significant other where they describe a complete conversation that not only you don’t remember but you clearly remember doing something else? If you let it become an angry shouting match you forget the implications. If you sit down and think about it you can start doubting the solidity of the world. My wife and I now joke about our other spousal conversations. (My other husband, my other wife).
Lastly a little story that I’m sure is part of your experience. My wife and I were looking for a small package that we were sure was in the cabinet. We both searched the cabinet, taking everything out. Finally I got down the bright flashlight and examined everything on the floor underneath the lazy susan. Nothing. Finally we both had to go do things. I came back a few hours later and the package was lying on the counter. I said to K, “Where was it?” She said, “Right here,” and pointed to the place I had used the flashlight to search and ran my hands over. Needless to say I was shocked. And there were less pieces in it than when I’d used it the time before.
If any of this is possible I’ve started listening for ideas that are outside my normal modes of thought; especially when I am working on something that I need a creative solution for. Perhaps I’m getting help from my alter egos through consciousness leakage.
We think we know that the world is stable and unchanging. Perhaps it is neither.
As an addendum I must tell you that I’ve always been antagonistic towards the MWI of quantum theory. I generally hate theories that say they are different but predict the same experimental outcomes. Thus experiment gives you no mechanism for choice but rather how the idiosyncratic pieces of your mind is how you choose. The major reason I loved the work of the late Professor Ed Jaynes is that he is the only quantum theorist I know who predicted totally different results from standard theory. Experimentalists loved it because it was a new and different result. And they rushed to check it out. I once had a quite violent argument with a totally nice friend of mine who liked MWI. Oh well. I hope you like the whimsy.