Multiverse and Science Fiction

Something that bugs me as a nerd …

I’ve seen/read a bunch of science fiction with a “parallel universe” as the premise. In this other universe, there is an exact copy of you and the world you presently inhabit, but its history is slightly different. (The Amazon series “The Man in the High Castle,” for instance.) I’ll skip the obvious problems with that cliche, but it brings me to the multiverse.

As I understand it, the universe has at least five constants:

They include the velocity of light in vacuum ( c ); the charge of the electron, the absolute value of which is the fundamental unit of electric charge ( e ); the mass of the electron ( m e); Planck’s constant ( h ); and the fine-structure constant, symbolized by the Greek letter alpha.

I may not entirely grasp the multiverse concept, so I’m open to correction, but I understand the multiverse to mean that different physical constants are theoretically possible, which means we can imagine universes where one or the other constant isn’t what we find in our universe. The problem that I have is this: If you change one of the constants, isn’t life impossible in that universe? In other words, if we could travel to another universe in the multiverse, wouldn’t we most likely find it devoid of galaxies, stars, planets, moons, and life?

What am I missing?

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I still don’t understand all this, either. What happens to the other me in the parallel universe if I die in this one? Without the same boulder falling on my head, do I persist in the other one?
Or is that too simplistic? I’m asking as a novice. It seems rather odd.

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if remotely interesting, the question of the “fine tuned” universe is one area i most strongly dissent from those in the ID camp with whom i usually find so much commonality.

i would say that life as we know it may well be impossible given a universe with such different constants. but then, perhaps in that universe, there would be hyper-intelligent shades of the color blue existing as super-accelerated plasma at 100000 F who visit black holes for holidays and interact with each other by sharing electrons the size of grapefruit, that laugh about how impossible life would be if matter was so cold and slow it all condensed into non-plasma forms like solid or liquid… All you would find i such a universe we’re things like stars, planets, moons, and the various organic growth that might happen to appear on such… but “life” as they know it might well be impossible in such a universe.

another idea of a multiverse (someone correct me if i am mistaken) is that, if you go far enough, you leave our entire visible universe, and beyond that is another entire universe (perhaps or presumably with the very same physical constants?)but which is entirely outside of any communication, interaction, or causality with our own… it exists entirely separate and apart from our current visible universe.

Assuming space and matter to be infinite, there are then an infinite number of these universes. if they are literally infinite, then you will surely find some where the universe developed similarly enough that there is an exact double of me in it ( This I believe is where that idea of a parallel being comes from?) in fact, if we are talking infinite universes, then there is an infinite number of universes with doubles of me.

and, given that there are an infinite number of “me” throughout the multiverse, then statistics demand that at least one of those versions of me randomly deals a royal flush, purely by chance, every single time throughout his entire life. in fact, there are an infinite number of versions of me where this happens.

to this, i can think of only one adequate reply…


Right. Makes no sense. Think of the swarm of your dad’s sperm that fertilized your mom’s egg. What are the odds of the exact chain of circumstances that led to your birth re-occurring at exactly the right moment in the other universe? And for everyone else presently existing too? Zero.

I’m asking another question. If any of the constants are changed, is life itself impossible because matter would scatter and never gather into clouds and then galaxies, or it would collapse into itself?

I don’t have the bandwidth to absorb @Daniel_Fisher’s reply right now. Sorry bro! haha

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We’re talking the fundamental dimensionless physical constants. I don’t imagine they can vary at all, they are what they have to be, vertices of variables that intersect, that crystallize out of the… matrix. No magic necessary, no insanely meaningless ID probabilities.

No, I get that. I think. I’m not a fan of the fine-tuning argument, and I don’t think the multiverse has any bearing on our predicament, which is what to do with the existence we have. Even if the multiverse is true, I just wonder whether this universe is likely the only one capable of supporting carbon-based biological “life” as we know it? (Not hyper-intelligent shades of blue. Sorry, @Daniel_Fisher. haha)

I’d say they all do Jay. We’re average if there’s a distribution in any way. So an infinitely large subset, of an infinitely larger set, at least. Universes are self tuning or rather the matrix that spawns them is, in the ova of quantum perturbations. The multiverse is a rational certainty and so is the infinity of practically infinitely inhabited universes.

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Sorry I’m slow. Had to let your answer percolate a minute. Let’s see if I understand. I don’t think infinity multiplied by anything comes up with a greater infinity. An infinitely large set is an infinitely large set, in plain language. But that’s a nitpick that doesn’t really affect what you’re saying.

Are universes self-tuning? Just wondering out loud, but can’t we imagine a universe with a gravitational constant too low to gather mass into the clouds that formed galaxies & etc.? Is the speed of light bound by some law to be the same in every universe among the infinity of multiverses?

Is it a mathematical certainty or a rational certainty? Is there a difference? Honestly asking.

If I understand you correctly, you’re saying the quantum fluctuations that (presumably) resulted in the Big Bang will self-tune to average about the same constants that exist in our universe. Since we’re talking about infinity anyway, that means an infinite number of universes exist with the same physical constants as our own. Have I mangled it anywhere?

If they have time, I’d also like to hear from some other physicists who frequent the joint: @pevaquark, @glipsnort, @heddle. Forgive me if I forgot anyone.

My hunch is the same but I wouldn’t put it so strongly. It’s just that every time we’ve assumed our celestial neighborhood or we ourselves were special there has turned out to be a wider context which has forced us to dial our egos down again.

But I don’t know what to make of the science fiction angle. I’ve been told that if there is a multiverse then there exists an alternate one for every different choice we’ve ever made. Really? The structure of the cosmos is finely tuned to … our choices? :face_with_raised_eyebrow: Not feeling it. And I’m with you about parsimony where the constants are concerned. I’d expect to see largely the same everywhere - if it was possible to check but which of course it never will be.

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I can just hear the partisans of the middle ages asserting the same thing [a “rational certainty”] about the immovable earth … the difference being, they actually had a lot of evidence at hand to back up their conviction.

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Klax speaks with absolute certainty about all topics, and I suspect in many cases, as it often is in physics and cosmology, he is wrong. First of all, there is no theory that predicts the values of the dimensionless constants, so the fact that he “doesn’t imagine” that they can vary is just that-- his imagination.

His claim that the multiverse is a “rational certainty” is simply a fallacious argument from incredulity. He is in effect saying “I find it unbelievable that the multiverse is not real.”

And I don’t even know what he means when he says universes are “self tuning.”

Finally, he (like many others) seems to think the fine tuning argument has something to do with probabilities which it does not. The fine tuning argument is this, with no reference to probability:

It appears that the habitability of our universe, in particular the ability of our universe to produce stars which then produce the heavy elements necessary for any kind of life, and then that some of the stars explode and seed the surrounding space with heavy elements so that rocky planets and life can form and evolve, is very sensitive to small changes in the physical constants.


  1. It says nothing about probability.
  2. It doesn’t say that our universe has the only set of constants that result in habitability, it only says that if you change our constants slightly then our universe would be uninhabitable. It does not rule out other habitable universes with very different sets of constants.

Good day FRiends,
Yes I am back of a very loooonngg absence!
As a died in the wool Sci-Fi reader/writer let me explain a bit more about multiverse that expands beyond the “physics” as discussed above.

The multiverse is based on Quantum “wave-collapse” theory. Every possibility for every choice possible, for every wavical (partical-wave-energy) creates a new multi-verse.
Therefore there is a new universe created every time I make a choice which creates a new plethora of choices that now can be made based on the last past choice.

As to the actual multiverse, the idea is just another “explanation” to make an end run around requiring Elohim God as the prime mover of Creation. Indeed, physics may postulate there are an infinite number of multi-verses out there, but they are all “potential” in nature, and as if they are “real” they are across the “brane” separating each universe and we have no ability to access them, and makes the whole idea moot - other than as a mechanism to escape first-cause of Creation.

Phillip K Dick wrote “Man in the High Castle” in 1962 as an alternate history of WWII results.

Robert Heinlein’s “Number of the Beast” (1980) popularized the idea in sci-fi. It has a small group of adventurers traveling through “sheaves” of related universes. At some point they enter universes that are the realization of other sci-fi author’s books – made “real” buy the author’s imagination. Just recently a new version based on the same story beginning came out from unfinished material he had cut from the first book “The Pursuit of the Pankera: A Parallel Novel about Parallel Universes”

Eric Flint’s “1632” alternate history series has ballooned into a huge gathering of books based on same principle.

The whole idea is a multiverse gives a writer an unlimited canvas to “explore strange new worlds, to discover new life, new civilizations, to boldly…” well you know! :innocent:

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It think the ending is: “to boldly split infinitives, no man (or woman) has split before.”


Oh, you’re one of those Alien Liguistophones! :smiley:

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You’re both making the same look up the wrong end of the telescope. Which look is more closed and which is more open? Rationally one offs, anomalies are infinitely more complex than infinities.

It’s NOT you Jay, it’s my failure to communicate.

So you can’t have an infinite set of infinite sets?

I reckon so. It’s parsimonious. It’s simplest. Could be wrong. Doesn’t matter. No magic is involved regardless.

Ah go on! As they say in Ireland. You, Sir, are gentleman. But it doesn’t take one to know one.

It’s rational. No mathematics is necessary. Just uniformitarianism a.k.a. common sense.

Perfect. Unless there’s no variation at all in the dimensionless fundamental physical constants. So yeah, c is c.

Only those without some irrational. superfluous, imparsimonious theist agenda count : )

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It’s an argument from common sense, from the philosophy of science, from uniformitarianism. Nothing to do with incredulity. There is no incredible, unbelievable, irrational, meaningless alternative, whether God is the ground of infinite eternal being or not.

there are also an infinite number of universes where animal life appears intelligently designed, but is all an accident of shmevolution, a process like evolution but where the laziest and least fit are most likely to survive

what you don’t realize is that Klax is always righ

he IS the cosmological constant

if physics ever disagrees with Klax it better self tune itself back into accordance with the Klaxomological constant!


Klax could never disagree with physics. But the absolute certainty of uniformitarianism - including of physics - is a matter of rationality. He couldn’t disagree with that either. There can be no faith reason to after all.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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