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Quantum mechanics, though firmly tested, is so
weird and anti-intuitive that famed physicist Richard Feynman once remarked, “I
think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.” Attempts to
explain some of the bizarre consequences of quantum theory have led to some
mind-bending ideas, such as the Copenhagen interpretation and the many-worlds
interpretation.

Now there’s a new theory on the block, called
the “many interacting worlds” hypothesis (MIW), and the idea is just as
profound as it sounds. The theory suggests not only that parallel worlds exist,
but that they interact with our world on the quantum level and are thus
detectable. Though still speculative, the theory may help to finally explain
some of the bizarre consequences inherent in quantum mechanics, reports RT.com.

The theory is a spin-off of the many-worlds
interpretation in quantum mechanics — an idea that posits that all possible
alternative histories and futures are real, each representing an actual, though
parallel, world. One problem with the many-worlds interpretation, however, has
been that it is fundamentally untestable, since observations can only be made
in our world. Happenings in these proposed “parallel” worlds can thus only be
imagined.

MIW, however, says otherwise. It suggests that
parallel worlds can interact on the quantum level, and in fact that they do.

“The idea of parallel universes in quantum
mechanics has been around since 1957,” explained Howard Wiseman, a physicist at
Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, and one of the physicists to come
up with MIW. “In the well-known ‘Many-Worlds Interpretation’, each universe
branches into a bunch of new universes every time a quantum measurement is
made. All possibilities are therefore realised – in some universes the
dinosaur-killing asteroid missed Earth. In others, Australia was colonised by
the Portuguese.”

“But critics question the reality of these
other universes, since they do not influence our universe at all,” he added.
“On this score, our “Many Interacting Worlds” approach is completely different,
as its name implies.”

Wiseman and colleagues have proposed that
there exists “a universal force of repulsion between ‘nearby’ (i.e. similar)
worlds, which tends to make them more dissimilar.” Quantum effects can be
explained by factoring in this force, they propose.

Whether or not the math holds true will be the
ultimate test for this theory. Does it or does it not properly predict quantum
effects mathematically? But the theory is certain to provide plenty of fodder
for the imagination.

For instance, when asked about whether their
theory might entail the possibility that humans could someday interact with
other worlds, Wiseman said:

“It’s not part of our theory. But the idea of
[human] interactions with other universes is no longer pure fantasy.”

What might your life look like if you made
different choices? Maybe one day you’ll be able to look into one of these
alternative worlds and find out.

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