152 – Fake Universe

I have a report here from Gordon Zank, the director of the Division of Realities.

“Thank you for getting in touch, Mr. Deeth. I am happy to tell you my story, but I have to acknowledge that it might not do anyone any benefit. 

“I run the DIvision of Realities, where we try to contact and experiment on other realities, or dimensions, or whatever you want to call them. Parallel Universes. These have been theorized for a long time, but it’s not the easiest thing in the world to prove. You may remember the time when we made contact with a Universe just slightly darker than ours. Sometimes if the Universe is too similar to the one we’re in, you can hardly tell the difference. It’s an open question whether alternate Universes are created by little differences in decisions by conscious actors, or if those Universes always existed and simply weren’t distinguishably different until the moment that the decision was made. It’s not possible to know right now. What we do know about the Universe we live in is limited, and while we say that it’s infinite, we also say that it’s expanding, and we don’t really have a clear explanation for why. It is possible that we are several paradigms away from having the understanding that we need. Perhaps our need for paradigm shift will scale with our understanding of the Universe. Perhaps it won’t. These are the kinds of thoughts that keep me up at night. My job is only to make use of these alternate Universes for Evil, but having a greater understanding of the nature of them makes it easier to do that. We spend a lot of our resources  on research and development for that reason. I was in bed one night beside my partner having trouble sleeping when it came to me. An experiment that could potentially generate a whole other Universe. Now I know that this might sound comical based on everything I just said. Either you can’t generate another Universe, or you’re generating them all the time. But this experiment was different. It could generate just one other Universe, and a very specific copy of the Universe you’re in. You will understand, of course, that I have to keep some of the details of the experiment out of the records here. These kinds of experiments are extremely dangerous if left in the wrong hands and the only thing keeping us safe here is ignorance. 

“I will summarize briefly. The experiment is somewhat like the concept of quantum death. You set up a machine that kills you based on the outcome of a quantum state, and you essentially become immortal in the reality that you remain in. The trouble with that thought experiment is all of the realities that you end up leaving behind with your corpse sitting there for that version of all of your loved ones to deal with. In this scenario, no one needs to die, but there is a similar quantum element. This one answers a question. You ask a question in a certain way and the decay of the particle collapses, leaving you in a reality where the answer can be easily given. There’s a catch, though. In the Universe where you ask the question, the answer is always true. Every single time. It cannot be any other way. And if the experiment was a total failure, the answer would also be true. So in the Universe where you ask the question, you don’t really get to find out the result of the experiment. While this seems kind of silly from a certain perspective, I think you have to agree that making that other Universe question its whole existence is a pretty Evil thing to do. Letting them know that they are from a copy Universe, a fake Universe, a Universe that was created just for the sake of this experiment. 

“Well, based on the amount of bloodshed in my office, I think you know where this is going. We asked the question simply enough. We asked the experimental apparatus and we allowed the collapse of the wave function do its job. After everything I did to set up the experiment and make sure that the outcome would be accurate, we lost that cosmic coin toss. I regret to inform you and everyone listening that this is the fake Universe. The result came back false. I can tell you with confidence there is simply no way that could occur under the circumstances unless we are the Universe generated by the experiment, and not the Universe that originated the experiment. It is possible that nothing you know really existed before the experiment, and that we are some kind of copy of the original Universe living in its shadow. 

“Certainly, some people might think that this doesn’t really matter much. We have a whole Universe to ourselves, and this concept of real versus fake Universes doesn’t really matter. But for others, the implications are clear, and they are terrifying. We are in a shadow Universe. There are implications for physics here that we are just barely beginning to understand.

“Obviously, I was weighed down by this situation and I needed some time to think about it. I went home. I spent time with my partner. I tried to bring myself up from the subatomic level back to the human level, and it worked to some extent. I could convince myself that it didn’t matter. I could convince myself that everything was going to be fine, at least as long as I was around. Probably longer than for the sun to burn out. The consequences could wait a long time. 

“I came back to the lab the next day to find that my assistants had not gone home. And that they wouldn’t ever again. The investigators seemed to think there were two murders and three suicides, but that could shift either way by at least one. It was a messy scene, Mr. Deeth, and one that will never leave me. What might be even worse was the little slips of paper on the ground. There were dozens of them. True here. False there. True again. False again. They must have run the experiment another forty or fifty times. That’s forty or fifty more Universes. All of them are copies of the fake Universe. Well, all but one. They all have consequences. Compounded consequences. Consequences on a time scale we might be able to experience. At this point, I don’t know how many times removed we are from our original Universe, and I can’t know in what order the paper slips came about because everyone who was there is dead. All I can say is that we aren’t where we started. 

“Then it dawned on me how many Universes must have been created in the other Universes in that same night. The tragedy was exponential. I not only condemned our Universe to its fate, but also potentially infinite other Universes. And then there’s my lab assistants in all of those other Universes, too. All dead. Perhaps the ratio of murders to suicides changes based on which Universe you find yourself in.

“I will be cursed with this knowledge, and this guilt for the rest of my life. Still, there’s one thing I keep thinking about. There’s the Universe that started it all. The one that made the rest of us. They won’t ever even know if the experiment worked. Hell, they might run it a dozen times just to see, and every time for them, the slip of paper will say true. And they will have no idea what they have done to the rest of us.”

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