Quackcast 660 - The Multiverse

The QuackCast

07-11-2023 • 1時間 16分

Multiverses are really popular in fiction right now, eg. Dr Strange into the mouth of Madness, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, The Flash, Everything Everywhere All at Once, Rick and Morty, and The Loki TV series (which I love). So what is a multiverse and why is it used? Basically when multiple universes coexist at the same time, either there are a few and they're widely different or they are infinite and every possibility exists. In the real world the idea of multiple universes is purely theoretical and a relatively minor part of various quantum physics theories, while in fiction it's an important tool for mashing together separate IPs that wouldn't normally fit together and also telling interesting stories with parallel elements and “what-if” scenarios.

There are some obvious logical issues with the way a lot of multiverse ideas are presented in fiction, though the concept is clearly magical rather that scientific in the way it's used it should STILL have logical consistency in order to be plausibly believable. One of the biggest issues is that the multiverse is too anthropomorphic and deterministic: humans are far too important, different worlds are “created” when people do different things, and in most of the different world the same people, places, and events exist and even when they don't the same characters exist, ie. no matter which world or who it is there will always be a Spiderman. This idea wouldn't be supported be any multiverse theory.

The easiest multiverse idea to use in fiction is the one where any random change produces a split and a new world. These random changes would NOT be whether you decide to go down a a different path because that is a very complex change an not in any way random, it'd be about simple particles in the quantum realm doing different things because those are the only truly random events. The trouble is this would happen incalculable times every femtosecond in every part of every new universe, but it WOULD produce infinite world worlds where many different possibilities exist.

There would be many, many, many almost identical versions of the same world with no visible change at all, there would be many worlds with all sorts of small changes and big changes but still having the same events and people in them and there would be just as many worlds where everything is different and no people in them at all. The trouble is that the kind of changes would be more limited than we think despite the infinite nature of the world because “initial conditions” play a huge part. The thing about initial conditions is that if they're different the end result will never be the same no matter how many times the scenario runs, and you also can't accurately predict what the result will be at any point unless you know the initial conditions that generated it.

What this means that time will play a huge part: the point a which the universes diverge is significant to the amount of change and the kind of changes that will happen. But these changes could only involve things that are possible- there couldn't be a universe where there is a version of you that was born a different sex or ethnicity for example because those changes would have to have happened too far back for the conditions to have resulted in YOU. Every time they would result in someone else quite different from you living in a scenario that was also very different. Eg. the initial conditions were different so the result can't be the same and the further back the changes happen the more divergent the result, regardless of the infinite nature of the variations.

This also mean you can't have a version of New York where magic exists, or a version of earth where we have two suns or something huge like that. But a world where you have a beard, where you became an accountant instead, where you died in childbirth, where you won a Nobel prize at 21, or where you're evil and have a goatee etc are all possible.

Anyway, what are you fave depictions of a multiverse and do you use multiverses in your work?
At the moment mine are the Loki TV series, Run Lola Run and Rick and Morty. Sliders was pretty fun back in the day though.

This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to The New Butler - Portentous, epic, intriguing, glorious and really quite regal.The one proudly proclaims wealth and taste (a very rare combination in these crass days). It speaks of wide open rolling green grassed grounds and forests surrounding the lordly manor house, packed with partridge and pheasant for hunting…

Topics and shownotes


Featured comic:
Psychoborg - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2023/oct/31/featured-comic-psychoborg/

Featured music:
The New Butler - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/The_New_Butler/ - by TENSA1, rated T.

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
Banes - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Banes/
Kawaiidaigakusei - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/kawaiidaigakusei
Tantz Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/

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