I have been reading up on Hugh Everett’s interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, recently. A scientist named John Von Neumann predicted that possibilities are condensed down to one single point, at every level, as seen by us, humanity. Simplistically, what it means is for every decision we make, that is the only decision possible. Almost a hard determinist view of Quantum Mechanics. It is known as wavefunction collapse.
Everett however suggested otherwise; his theory has become known as the many Worlds theory, which states that for every choice, there is an infinite number of universes that presuppose you took a different choice. An infinite number. Meaning limitless. Now it’s easy to sit and say “Wow, that means there’s a universe where I didn’t read this blog entry”. It’s true. But look at the larger picture. It would mean that there exists universes in which the Nazis successfully invaded Britain; and universes in which we have evolved to a level that means Religion is unnecessary; and universes where Pharmaceutical companies and health insurance providers are not indirectly responsible for millions of preventable deaths; and universes in which the Feudal system never died; and universes in which Republican-American is a synonym for Oxygen-thief. Endless possibilities.
There is one aspect of the Many World Theory that strikes me as bewildering. If I go by the logic of Everett, and accept that I therefore exist in many different universes, and every choice I make is replicated but with both large and small tweaks depending on the universe, is it therefore logically impossible to kill oneself? But then, if it is logically impossible to kill oneself, it wouldn’t be impossible (obviously) for others to perceive that I had killed myself? Are you following? Here’s a scenario;
If I were to stand in a group of people, and hold a fully loaded gun to my head, according to Everett’s logic, the gun would never kill me. I would never die. I could keep pulling the trigger, but nothing would happen. I would keep existing in universes that the gun jammed, or the mechanism was broke. I would never know what it was like to die. I would be forever conscious. This presents a problem though, because with a fully loaded gun, if I pointed it at my head and pulled the trigger, there would be no jamming of the mechanism to others around me. They would perceive me as having just killed myself, the moment I pulled the trigger. To everyone else, I would be dead. To me, I would be alive. It is a similar idea to Schrödinger’s cat-in-a-box, in that I would be both alive and dead. In this universe, to everyone else, I would be dead. To me, I would never die. David Lewis, the late philosopher from the US, points out that if one were to try this particular experiment, one could end up in a universe in which the gun went off, but left you facially disfigured, or one in which you missed, and hit someone else. There are endless possibilities as to which universe you could find yourself in, relating entirely to the very second you pull that trigger. You wouldn’t find yourself in a universe entirely different to our own, the universe you found yourself in, would be identical to the one you just left in which everyone around you saw you kill yourself, yet the one you just entered would be different at the very point that the trigger was pulled.
To take that point to it’s reasonable conclusion, we must be able to say that using Everett’s logic, the first person is immortal, but the third is mortal. So, to me I am immortal. I am unable to die. Because there will always be a universe that I exist, and that will be the only universe that I am able to observe. But to you, I can die, because you are not existing in a universe that can prevent however it is I died, and you would still be conscious in the universe you exist. However, to you, you are immortal. Meaning, you would be both alive and dead at the same time. The many-Worlds theory proposed by Everett, directly implies immorality, because one can never stop existing.
Does an infinite number of universes also imply that there is at least one (and that’s an optimistic estimate) in which U2 are a good band?
My mind, is well and truly boggled.