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The Multiverse

mathematical universeMax Tegmark lives in world that "is not just described by mathematics, it is mathematics," writes Amir Alexander in The New York Times (4/22/14). Max is author of Our Mathematical Universe, and his "vision of a purely mathematical universe, one that can be understood solely through rigorous mathematical reasoning, is far from new." It’s an idea dating back at least to "the sixth century BC," when "the Pythagoreans declared that ‘all is a number’," but Max puts his own, special stamp on it.

His focus is on "the building blocks of matter, the elementary particles governed by the laws of quantum mechanics. The position of a particle at a given time is described by its ‘wavefunction,’ but this provides only a probable distribution of locations, not an absolutely determined one." Niels Bohr and Werner ‘Say My Name’ Heisenberg "resolved this problem by positing that the wavefunction ‘collapses’ into a specific location when a measurement is made." Max disagrees, and says that wavefunction values do not collapse, but rather "continue to exist, side by side."

The implications of this just might blow your mind. It would mean "that the universe is constantly splitting into more and more realities, in each of which the particle is in one of its possible locations … Since we are made of elementary particles, our actions, thoughts and feelings ultimately depend on their position, and our world, too, is constantly splitting into all its possibilities." Max terms this our "multiverse," or a world where "everything that can happen does happen — in at least one of an infinite number of universes."