Do Parallel Universes Exist?

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I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of parallel universes, although I don’t read nearly enough science fiction; don’t write any. What brought it all back was my outlining the next Zoe Sinclair novel, the research involved in trying to get the story moving in a direction I feel more than know at this point.

After Stranger or Friend, the character reemerges with somewhat of a fractured psyche. We can’t walk though a dark forest, as Zoe did physically and emotionally toward the end of the book,  and resurface unscathed.  

But what does a broken psyche have to do with a parallel universe?

Well, according to physicists, we, the observers create our own reality. There is apparently overwhelming evidence, forcing physicists to admit that the universe is a “mental” construction. So, in real life, a person with a fractured psyche, someone like Zoe, would see the world differently, but maybe not for the reason we imagine.

First, let me take you to Susanna Kaysen’s memoir, Girl Interrupted, in which the author describes her “struggle to transcend across the boundary that separates her from two parallel universes: the worlds of sanity and insanity, security and vulnerability.”

Kaysen details “her existence as a patient diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder in a mental institution where time seems circular alongside a parallel universe where time is linear.” She describes “the reality of her situation and experiences, leaving her readers in a disturbing position of being suspended between the world she paints and the factual reality.”

Which leads to the question:  Does the patient suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder, or is it possible that by having suffered severe trauma she’s able to see into a parallel universe closed to the rest of us, the so-called sane?

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The questions are too great to remain unexplored. And yet exploring them only leads to more questions.

I touched upon the idea of dream interpretation in Stranger or Friend, allowing my character to alleviate suffering by ‘dreaming’ of a long-lost relative, crossing into a different universe, if you will.

We often hear stories about people able to access different parts of their consciousness after severe trauma, or the ability to enter another self through transcendental meditation. But is that what it is, or are they accessing something else entirely?

Here is what scientists have to say about parallel universes:

“A fundamental conclusion of the new physics acknowledges that as observers we are personally involved with the creation of our own reality.”

Meaning that through perception we create our reality, and reality does not exist outside our thought process. And there are parallel realities all around, “universes were wars had different outcomes than the ones we know, species that are extinct in our universe have evolved and adapted.”

Physicist Sir James Jeans wrote: ‘The stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter, but the governor of the realm of matter.” – R.C. Henry, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University.

I can easily get lost in such complexities, life is stressful enough already, but as writers, as thinkers, we can say this thought boggles the mind and yet, it is still comprehensible… well, almost.

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Images: http://www.flickr.com, galerie.designnation.de

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23 responses to “Do Parallel Universes Exist?

  1. This is fascinating stuff to think about. Silvia.

  2. Ah yes, what is reality? Have you ever seen Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman? He highlights all sorts of questions like these.

  3. I am thinking this is truth.

  4. Something I’ve contemplated with interest…you did a great job discussing the basis and potential.

  5. My brother had his master’s in para-psychology. His belief was that once the electromagnetic energy was released from our bodies that it was free to join the other spirits of the world. In other words he exists in another form. It will be interesting to see where you take your novel!

    • Gwynn, your brother may have been on to something. Smart guy. We are, in that case, mind and matter, which dissolves upon death and reappears elsewhere in whatever form, be it in this universe or a different reality. Wild stuff. Thank you.

  6. Girl, Interrupted is one of my favourite books. You’re right though. These are questions worth asking but only lead to more questions…

  7. Hmmm. How do I say this? If you’ve read “A Testable Hypothesis: Creation and Evolution” and “Noah in a Cellular World” (both on my website), you’ll notice that I’ve been looking a a single pattern with a number of interpretations (although only 2 have so far made it into print). The book of Genesis seems to transcend time and space…and that means that it also transcends “dimensions” (since, according to Einstein, the 4th dimension is “time”). In other word, the words themselves represent a pattern that holds true for 3.7 billion years across an entire universe, for 780 millions of earth evolution, for the timespan and space of fetal development, and for the time and space of a single cell’s life cycle. So far, I’ve found at least 7 time/space interpretations within that one book.

    If we think of the book of Genesis as “light” coming through a window and that each one of us filters that light in some way or other, we may begin to realize that understanding all that lies within its pages isn’t simply a matter of “black and white.” Our beliefs “color” what we see.

    For a long time we were taught that a rainbow had only seven colors, but if we didn’t put limitations on where one color ended and another color began, we’d find that there are many more colors than what we were taught as children. More importantly, if we stopped insisting that only one of those colors was the “real light” and stopped arguing over which interpretation is “correct”, we might come a bit closer to the true meaning of the book of Genesis…and begin to wonder why all interpretations seem to work.

    Dimensions are like that. We tend to see “end points” rather than continuums. A book that goes beyond space (3 dimensions) and time (the 4th dimension) must have originated in some higher dimension (i.e., higher than 4). Is that another “reality”? Or, are we already a PART of that reality, but have yet to see beyond the limitations that we’ve created for ourselves?

    • Lyn, thank you for this detailed answer. I’m inclined to say the answer to your final question is yes, but that’s a huge assumption, as everything having to do with ‘realities’ is. If I’m understanding the scientists correctly, our minds are limited in the amount of information we can grasp, what we can see. I don’t know that we are part of other realities. We may somehow share some similarities, but the concept of time, and life as we know it, would be different, wouldn’t it? This is not to say that we can’t see into other ‘realities,’ or at least some people could, as in the Girl Interrupted example, but it takes a certain chemical balance, or imbalance, for it to be happen. So, the final answer is, I don’t know. :) Our minds are limited in the ways in which we perceive reality, as in the great examples you give above. The mind is the energy which governs everything, but for it to do so it needs physical presence — a body that can take us only so far — then the energy releases, joins a different physical presence, or it doesn’t … and on and on. It’s what makes this stuff fascinating.

  8. Blending, filtering, spectrum positioning … I think our minds are capable of transporting us to alternate universes; I’m not as firmly convinced of physical alternates.

    It’s fascinating to contemplate as you’ve piqued my thoughts😀

  9. I too am piqued and I like Lyn’s response to you re continuum. It reminds me that we use only about 10% (max) of our brain/mind power; and if/when we get into an e.g. meditative state certain parts of the brain which are normally not active get activated. Anyway, I’m not going to get into a thingamy about that!

    Parallel universes? yes, why not. Carl Sagan, Einstein spoke of them … other sages have…. maybe our dream worlds are parallel universes …

    Thanks Silvia. Interesting!

  10. Many stories are written this this concept in mind. I’ve seen a few where the Nazi party wins and how the world is different. Even in It’s a Wonderful Life, George is shown what would happen in the world if he wasn’t there to do his part. Sometimes, I think of the philosophy discussions in college, what is real? Is this table real, or do we just think it is? It can boggle the mind.

  11. This is a question that I have been pondering for years and I’m still no closer to a definitive answer!
    Popping by on the A to Z Road Trip
    Debbie
    http://www.myrandommusings.blogspot.com

  12. Excellent thoughts on parallel universes! It’s a subject that really interests me as well, and I think has a lot of potential for use in fiction. “Flatland” is my personal favorite example of a being living in two dimensions encountering a being in three dimensions, and I think that main character’s struggle with perception is pretty applicable to characters in all sorts of other stories. :]

  13. Wow, Sylvia, you are grappling with a huge and fascinating “Tiger.” In addition, you are a published writer of fascinating books! I have an acquaintance with some of the science you are immersed in, e.g., COSMIC CONVERSATONS, DIALOGUES ON THE NATURE OF THE UNIVERSE AND THE SEARCH FOR REALITY, Stephan Martin, 2010. Stephan dedicated book “To my parents and grandparents, who encouraged my love of nature and wonder at the night sky.”

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