"Are we alone?"
Quite possibly the biggest question posed by eusocial primates. The need to know encouraged our forebears to climb down from the treetops. To brave the savannahs in hopes of sighting distant forests, or making meaningful contact with other clever apes. Over the millennia humans crossed oceans to new lands in hopes of deepening their gene pool, or their pockets. Unlike Alexander the Great, we do not weep when we see the breadth of our domain, knowing there are no more worlds to conquer. Instead we turn our gaze to the stars in hopes of expanding our real estate portfolio, and perk our ears heavenward to eavesdrop on aliens.
More esoterically, cosmologists and mathematicians propose the existence of parallel universes. If it happens we are the sole inhabitants in this dimension, maybe one day we can ping nearby branes of other universes, and hear what our parallel peers have to say about the human condition. The math seems to bear out the many-worlds interpretation, but where's the evidence?
Back in 2010, Stephen Feeney and pals performed the first observational tests of eternal inflation. They combed WMAP's 7-year survey of the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) for evidence of cosmic collisions. Their theory predicts our universe exists inside a single bubble within an expanding multiverse. Other universes exist within their own bubbles, sometimes 'bruising' ours. Bringing us to Roger Penrose and Vahe Gurzadyan detecting concentric circles in the CMB. These patterns could be indicative of a cyclical universe, with each incarnation ending with a big bang. The subsequent universe contains each of the previous universes, presenting a cosmological model akin to a Matryoshka doll. Feeney did note with the volume of data from WMAP, "t is rather easy to find all sorts of statistically unlikely properties in a large dataset like the CMB." [N.I. Ed Notes: Other explanations for the so-called 'CMB' proposed by Electric Universe exponents might preclude this as evidence]
More observations would be needed to support these theories. WMAP's successor, the Planck observatory, was up to the task. More sensitive than its predecessor, Planck left behind reams of data after its decomissioning in 2013. Ranga-Ram Chary took it upon himself to renew the search. His Spectral Variations of the Sky: Constraints on Alternate Universes describes bright anomalies in the CMB, possibly from our universe bumping into others. Chary's method was to subtract the CMB, dust, gas, and stars from Planck's data which should've left nothing but random noise. At the frequency of 143 GHz he found some parts of the sky were significantly brighter than others, proposing they're evidence of those bumps.
With such outlandish claims, there's a high burden of proof to support them. Chary proposes two explanations outside of alternate universes. He suggests the bright spots may be carbon monoxide in the foreground interstellar medium (ISM) from stellar nurseries. Something similar happened with BICEP2's data when scientists crowed about last year's detection of gravity waves. Instead, those waves turned up being dust in the ISM. Ranga-Ram goes on to say carbon monoxide in the ISM is highly unlikely, since the lines aren't as strong as they ought to be. Therefore a multiverse is a distinct possibility. At least 'til NASA's Primordial Inflation Explorer, or PIXIE, launches in 2016 to disprove these theories.
Bringing us back to Feeney's eternal inflation model. Once inflation starts it doesn't stop, producing smaller pocket universes within the multiverse. Most of these bubbles would have their own physics and composition, some tearing themselves apart in the blink of an eye. Others would be more or less indistinguishable from our own. Some, like Edward Harrison and John Gribbin, posit this is evidence of why our universe is so stable.
"[Harrison] says that there are three possible answers. First, that God designed it, though he argues that this answer precludes further rational inquiry. Second, the anthropic principle, but he finds this unsatisfactory. His third answer is that our Universe was created by life of superior intelligence existing in another physical universe. How does he arrive at that conclusion?
First, he picks up on the above suggestions of black holes as the birthplaces of new universes. Second, he argues that due to the rapid evolution of intelligence (which we currently see in humanity) there is every reason to expect that a time will come when we will be able to design and create our own universes. Thus, the fine tuning of this Universe is to be explained as an engineering project of superior beings. They have created this Universe out of a black hole. He calls it a 'natural creation theory', and claims that it also explains why the Universe is intelligible to us. It is created by minds similar to our own, who designed it to be that way." [url=https://books.google.com/books?id=7LDgECeg8DYC&pg=PA106&dq="edward+harrison+put+forward+an+even+more+extraordinary+reason"&hl=en&sa=X&ei=sbB-VI3yBcScgwTZ6IHwDg#v=onepage&q="edward harrison put forward an even more extraordinary reason"&f=false]cite[/url]
What if all those brief-lived universes are failed experiments? The product of graduate students pursuing their masters or doctorates, conjuring up each universe like a game of SimCity just to see what works. Or beings from another universe planning the ultimate exit strategy, abandoning their universe for another. Take Marvel's Galactus. Formerly known as Galan of Taa, his universe collapsed on itself. In the ensuing big bang, he was reborn as Galactus: Devourer of Worlds. In Stephen Baxter's novel Ring, an alien race called the Xeelee hopes to escape the heat death of the universe via the Great Attractor. It's the ultimate big dumb object, created by the Xeelee using cosmic strings as an escape hatch to other universes where physical laws aren't so familiar.
The possibilities are, literally, endless.
Quantum suicide is one of the most horrifying thought experiments proposed by Hans Moravec. To be brief, rig up a gun to a device measuring the spin value of a proton every ten seconds. The spin value randomly creates a quantum bit as 1 or 0. When the trigger's pulled and the quantum bit comes up 1, the gun fires, killing the subject. Zero? The subject survives, and will survive subsequent attempts should Hugh Everett's many-worlds interpretation prove correct. It's a riff on Schrödinger's cat, where kitty is in a superposition of being alive and dead at the same time.
But who wants to risk their lives despite the prospect of quantum immortality? Isn't there a safer way to test this?
Enter Daniel Filan and Joseph Hope, two of the Australian National University's brightest, addressing the question, "What would it have looked like if it looked like I were in a superposition?" Their theory has nothing to do with conspiracy theories, disinformation, nor dodgy memories but remembering events from parallel universes, harkening to Fiona Broome's Mandela Effect.
In case you've been living under a rock, the most popular example of this theory is the Berenstain Bears controversy [see below]. Rap duo Run The Jewels, and many others, insist the children's book series was originally spelled "Berenstein".
Filian and Hope discover it's impossible to find definitive proof, but their paper describes how to detect if a person was in a state of superposition. It's a non-lethal take on quantum suicide. The experimenter enters a machine with pen and paper to record the state of an electron as "yes" or "no". After noting their observation, they exit the machine, leaving the data on a table. After, say, 100 tries, the data is reviewed. Should the compiled results be roughly 50/50, then the person wasn't in superposition. If all the results are the same, the experimenter was in superposition.
"We also note that this test relies crucially on both the 'memory loss' experienced by the experimenter, and the knowledge of the phase of the initial superposition. The full quantum state of the experimenter, including their memories, is being generated by the machine. This means that it is possible for them to have any memories at all, but we have shown that they must be identical across multiple branches of the superposition, and therefore cannot be correlated with the actual relevant measurement results."
What if these memories only appear identical, and the differences are so insignificant where realities are indistinguishable from another? For example, the differences between a pair of realities might be an atom resonating at a lower energy than its parallel doppelgänger. Over these iterations, based upon the experimenter's measurements, a universe with a significant difference like Berenstain/Berenstein could crop up and conflict with "reality".
The possibilities are endless, like our infinite universes.
A few days ago I posted a link to a blog post from earlier this year about 'The Berenst#in Bears Problem':
"Now, if you don’t know about The Berenstein Bears, they were a series of children’s books, and eventually a cartoon, created by Stan and Jan Berenstein. They focused on a family of bears, and did the usual educational children’s book/tv series thing. Simple enough. I remember them, vaguely, and I believe I owned a book or two when I was a kid. It’s been a while.
So what’s the problem?
They’re not The Berenstein Bears. They’ve never been The Berenstein Bears. Despite the fact that many others remember them as The Berenstein Bears, and I myself still pronounce their name as The Berenstein Bears, this is false. This is wrong.
They are The Berenstain Bears."
Now, from this seemingly minor oddity a number of rather major theories have developed across the intarwebs. Could it be that the discrepancy is evidence that at some point in the last two decades, we all "shifted into an almost indistinguishable parallel universe"? Or perhaps it's the effect of a time-traveler messing with the past and changing the future...our present? You know, those wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey issues that this guy was concerned about:
Okay, it's an odd little bit of Fortean fun, and your response to it all could lie anywhere on the spectrum from stoners mumbling "can't deal with this right now" to anal retentive skeptics making "harumph!" noises. But it's a great jumping off point for two of my favourite topics: firstly, the philosophical arguments over reality and perception (a la Philip K Dick storylines), and secondly, the modern-day creation of mythologies.
In the first instance, the arguments for 'alternative world/timeline' in this case are complicated by (a) in the former, the fact that there are many who *do* remember the books as 'Berenstain', and (b) in the latter, that any change to the timeline should also have changed everyone's memories as well. But it does raise an interesting question: how would anything of this sort be scientifically provable, if the only 'evidence' for such changes were memories retained in consciousness, rather than the physical world?
I could show you a Google NGram (which shows the frequency of usage of words and phrases in books over the last couple of centuries) with Berenstain as the most often used spelling, but what does it prove if the timeline did in fact change?
In the second instance - the modern creation of mythologies - at the moment we're watching one play out with the Berenst#in Bears Problem. People are spending serious hours hunting images down on the internet, looking through their wardrobes for old books, and asking their parents.
Some - most often those that grew up thinking of them as the Berenstein Bears, and cannot accept that it may have been Berenstain all this time - seriously feel that the alternative world/timeline theory is a possibility. Others (like myself) are enjoying the Fortean elements of this story, and are having some fun with it. And then some are taking that fun one step further, and creating fake 'evidence' to support the alternative world/timeline theories.
And now, as all that develops, the Berenst#in Bears Problem is starting to reach much larger audiences as it gets shared across social networks, and some individuals with larger follower counts become aware of it. Just yesterday musician El-P spent much of the day debating it with his 100,000+ followers on Twitter, taking many of them down the rabbit hole with him.
El-P also posted the following series of tweets, referring to the images at the top of this post:
ok. this is not a joke. the same page that had that pick of the simpons holding the "berenstain bears" 5 minutes ago. the one i posted...
— el-p (@therealelp) August 4, 2015
IT LITERALLY NOW SAYS BERENSTAIN IM NOT EVEN KIDDING GOD DAMNIT https://t.co/IXWFFcuIxt
— el-p (@therealelp) August 4, 2015
El-P's obviously joking. Or maybe someone played him real good. Or maybe some time traveler is hastily covering his tracks. It really doesn't matter anymore, this myth is alive now, and we can expect it to take its place in the modern mythology pantheon with Slenderman and John Titor before too long.
Speaking of John Titor, does anyone know if he was involved in children's book publishing at all...?
Thanks to: http://nexusilluminati.blogspot.com: