The Futile Search for Anti-Me

“Nice call, Sy.”

“Beg pardon?”

“Your post a couple weeks ago. You titled it ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once.’ That’s the movie that just won seven Oscars — Best Movie, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress… How’d you predict it?”

“I didn’t, Susan. I wasn’t even trying to. I knew the movie’s plot was based on the multiverse notion. That’s the theme for this post series so it seemed like a natural cultural reference. Besides, that post was about the Big Bang’s growth in a skillionth of a second from a Planck‑length‑size volume out to our ginormous Universe and all its particles. ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once‘ seemed like a nice description of what we think happened. A mug of my usual, Al, and I’m buying Susan’s mocha latte.”

“Sure, Sy. Nice call, by the way. Have a couple of scones, you two, on me.”

“Thanks, Al, and thanks, Sy. You know, I’ve noticed the multiverse idea cropping up a lot lately. They used it in the Spiderman franchise, and the recent Doctor Strange pic, and I just read it’ll be in the next Flash movie.”

“Oh, it’s an old writer’s ploy, Susan. Been around in one form or another since Aristophanes invented Cloudcuckooland for one of his Greek comedies. Small‑screen scifi uses it a lot — Star Trek used it back in the Kirk-Spock shows and DS9 based a whole story arc on the idea. Any time an author wants to move the action to a strange place or bring in some variation on a familiar character, they trot out the multiverse. Completely bogus, of course — they may sound all science‑y but none of them have anything to do with what we physicists have been arguing about.”

“You mean your anti-Universe won’t have an evil version of you in it?”

“I certainly don’t expect it to if it even exists. Suppose an anti‑Universe is out there. Think of all the contingencies that had to go just right during 13½ billion anti‑years of anti‑quark‑soup and anti‑atomic history before there’s an anti‑planet just like Earth in just the right environment around an anti‑star just like ours, all evolved to the level of our anti‑when, not to mention the close shaves our biological and personal histories would have had to scrape through. I’d be amazed if even anti‑humans existed there, let alone individuals anything like you and me. Talk about very low probabilities.”

“You’ve got a point. My folks almost didn’t survive the war back in Korea. A mine went off while they were working in our field — another few feet over and I wouldn’t be here today. But wait, couldn’t everything in the anti‑Universe play out in anti‑time exactly like things have in ours? They both would have started right next to each other with mirror‑image forces at work. It’d be like a pool table show by a really good trick‑shot artist.”

“If everything were that exactly mirror‑imaged, the anti‑me and I would have the same background, attitudes and ethics. The mirror people on those scifi shows generally have motives and moral codes that oppose ours even though the mirror characters physically are dead ringers for their our‑side counterparts. Except the male evil twins generally wear beards and the female ones use darker eye make‑up. No, I don’t think mirror‑imaging can be that exact. The reason is quantum.”

“How did quantum get into this? Quantum’s about little stuff, atoms and molecules, not the Universe.”

“Remember when the Universe was packed into a Planck‑length‑size volume? That’s on the order of 10‑35 meter across, plenty small enough for random quantum effects to make a big difference. What’s important here, though, is everything that happened post‑Bang. The essence of quantum theory is that it’s not clockwork. With a few exceptions, we can only make statistical predictions about how events will go at microscopic scale. Things vary at random. Your chemical reactions are predictable but only because you’re working with huge numbers of molecules.”

“Even then sometimes I get a mess.”

“Well then. If you can’t reliably replicate reactions with gram‑level quantities, how can you expect an entire anti‑Universe to replicate its partner?”

“Then <singing> there can never be another you.”

~~ Rich Olcott