It’s the day after Halloween. You probably spent last night gorging on candy, peeling sticky wrappers off of your adorably dressed kids, or – if you’re like me – you worked late, came home, put on sweatpants and watched Contact.
Either way, you’re in recovery mode. So what better way to get the ol’ mind moving again than by blowing it?
Aware of my nearly obsessive admiration of Neil deGrasse Tyson (who recently tweeted, “I love the smell of the universe in the morning.”) and longtime dream to meet Carl Sagan in some kind of heaven-like afterlife, one of my coworkers recently sent me this Radiolab Podcast (thanks, Brad).
In it, theoretical physicist Brian Greene uses statistics to make the case that there’s likely another you out there, doing the same thing you’re doing now. Not only that, there are an infinite number of other yous, doing the same thing or only slightly different things than you’re doing now. Or, doing the same thing or only slightly different things, with slightly different thoughts than you have now.
If everything that exists and can exist does exist, the odds simply point to the fact that there are more yous (I just paraphrased an enormous concept… don’t take my word for it – just listen to the Podcast).
The later part of this interview moves beyond the real universe (or universes) and posits that it’s more likely we actually live in a simulated universe as opposed to a real, natural one. Like, a universe manufactured by something or someone with a good grasp of technology.
For me, the most interesting part of these concepts isn’t that they might be true, it’s that we can imagine them to be true. We’re equipped with this amazing capacity to be curious and eager and hungry to understand. We can conceptualize realities that are in direct conflict with our actual concepts of reality. It’s oxymoronic in the best way.
“To me, the most wonderous thing about science – and physics in particular – is the fact that through the power of thought and calculation and observation, you can be led to conclusions vastly at odds with what you would think based upon experience. I don’t think there’s anything more wonderous than that moment when you think the world is one way and your equations, your math, your ideas, your theories begin to convince you that is it another way.” – Brian Greene
Check it out. It’s 50 minutes long, but you’ve got time.
Image of the Coma cluster of galaxies from Nasa.gov