Other Places

In an exciting bit of news, scientists recently observed an object vibrating and standing still simultaneously, the first recorded observation of a quantum state. Up until now, this had only been theoretical physics, the idea that at the subatomic level, where two states were equally probable, both were true until one or the other was determined by the observer. This lends some credence to parallel universe theory, the notion that for every choice we make, a second timeline branches off in which we made the opposite choice.

Parallel timelines are playing a big part in the final season of LOST, in which a major event, the detonation of a nuclear bomb in the 1970s, has created a second timeline in which all of the characters never crashed on the show’s mysterious island, and their lives have all taken different, seemingly better paths. As of the latest episode, we’ve seen the strongest evidence yet that the characters in the new timeline have a sort of Déjà vu, that in near-death experiences they actual catch glimpses of their original lives. One character seems to now split his consciousness between both realities. If quantum theory is indeed true, then these other universes coexist with our own, just slightly out of synch at the atomic level.

Fringe, another great series from LOST creator J.J. Abrams, also deals with the notion of a parallel Earth at the heart of its mythology. While LOST’s second timeline was created through more of a butterfly effect, one change in the past creating an alternate turn of events, Fringe works with the notion that there is more than one of everything, that two universes have always existed. The real trouble there came in to play when a scientist who invented a window to view the second universe figured out a way to go one step further and cross over, creating cracks and bleed-throughs that have only gotten worse. Two identical objects cannot occupy the same physical space without catastrophic results.

I definitely like the idea of many worlds, and I especially like the notion that at a subconscious level, we are aware of our alternate lives. Have you ever had a dream that was so vivid, you thought it was real? What if that was a glimpse of the other side? I had a dream there was scurrying on my ceiling. When I went up to the roof to investigate, my father was up there watering some plants alongside a greenhouse structure I’d never seen before. Inside was a crumbling concrete wall, which I shattered with a sledge hammer. Inside that, a dusty, curved staircase led down to a section of our basement I never knew existed, within which sat a single, lonely exercise bicycle. Maybe that’s what our house looks like in another reality.

In dreams and in the possibility of alternate reality, there is hope. For every mistake and terrible thing we’ve experienced here, we have a counterpart who was spared such things. Conversely, for everything that went right for us, it is we who escaped a worse fate. I’ve thought about time travel, about righting wrongs. There were tests and auditions I failed, girls I asked out that I shouldn’t have, and girls I should have asked out that I didn’t. Even little things like choosing the wrong route to work on the day construction was taking place, or an accident had occurred, might have been avoided if I could have changed things. So do we consciously determine our own reality, which of two possibilities we perceive? The one downside of this theory is that, even if we could time travel and change something, we would only be creating a new path and version of ourselves. We’d still have our memories, and still see things the same way. Only in the deepest corners of our minds would we dream or have a sense of the other place, but we could never go there. I don’t know if our minds could handle it. I think we would go mad; I wonder if some of the people who have gone mad are those who managed to split their perceptions. It’s not like we can just jump from one train track to another smoothly, and have it be as though the track behind us was the one that was always there. When we to straddle both, we’d only derail.

I’ve always accepted my path for what it is. The decisions I’ve made, and the things I’ve experience, both good and bad, led me to the present I’m in, and the future I’m heading towards. Changing a bad thing in the past might mean a good thing in the present or future might never happen. The probabilities are too astronomically huge to mess with. So, in the end, I’m glad to be on this path and moving forward. I just think it’s really cool that there’s another me in another train running alongside this one, and it’d be really cool if I could catch a glimpse of my mirror self and wave. Maybe someday, in another place, in the next life, when time has no meaning, my own mortal linear perception will be a shackle I’ve discarded.

One MCF=Endless Improbabilities.


Blogger Lorna said...

I love this post. I think it's one of your best, but maybe because I am so in tune with Lost and Fringe. Such a comforting premise.

4/08/2010 6:55 AM  
Blogger Rey said...

How can I comment without looking like an ass when I say "man, the media has seriously screwed over the implications of this actually working test."?

4/08/2010 10:38 AM  
Blogger MCF said...

Please elaborate.

4/08/2010 11:07 PM  

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