Are there parallel universes? Universes in which, rather than reading this article, you are still asleep; in which you are happier, unhappier, richer, poorer, or even dead? The answer is "possibly". It's a controversial claim but one that has won more and more followers over the last few decades.
Would you stake your fortune on a 100 to 1 outsider? Probably not. But what if, somewhere in a parallel universe, the straggling nag does come in first? Would the pleasure you feel in that universe outweigh the pain you feel in the one in which you've lost? Questions not dissimilar to this one occupy physicists and for entirely respectable reasons.
Hugh Everett III is the father of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. He published the idea in his PhD thesis but died before it gained the recognition it deserves. This article gives an insight into Everett's difficult life.
Are there parallel universes? In the latest online poll of our Science fiction, science fact project you told us that you'd like an answer to this question. So we spoke to physicists Adrian Kent and David Wallace to find out more. Happy reading!
In the first article of this series we introduced Schrödinger's
equation and in the second we saw it in action using a simple example. But how should
we interpret its solution, the wave function? What does it tell us
about the physical world?