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Bewildering Stories

Hedging Bets

The Judeo-Christian-Islamic principle that “God is one” either predicts or coincides with — take your pick — the physical principle that natural laws apply consistently everywhere in the cosmos. If a physicist cites evidence that these laws may vary, the principle of Occam’s Razor might suggest that our understanding of physics or astrography is incomplete.

A theologian might argue that monotheism is one thing but monomania is another. For example, a child may have a favorite toy but, given the choice, will probably desire variety rather than an infinite number of the same plaything. And that leaves the door open to speculation in physics: if this universe is “good,” what — to quote Voltaire’s Candide — are the others like? The simplest conjecture is that other universes will have planets that resemble Earth or even Earth’s various ecologies: they’ll be different from ours in some ways but good for whoever or whatever lives there.

In the time travel discussion we’re not really saying that an entirely new “universe” is created every time a time traveler “gets noticed.” Rather, we’re saying that the time traveler causes the original to grow a branch, like a tree.

Are branches or offshoots as uneconomical as the Many Worlds theory in its pure form? Not really. An offshoot duplicates the matter, energy, galaxies, etc. of the original, but its future remains to be realized. And there won’t be an infinite number of branches; there will be only as many as there are time travelers who “get noticed” and change history.

Copyright © 2010 by Bewildering Stories

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