New interpretation of quantum physics: Many Interacting Worlds

There’s a new interpretation of quantum mechanics: Scientists propose existence and interaction of parallel worlds: Many Interacting Worlds theory challenges foundations of quantum science — ScienceDaily.

This new interpretation appears to be similar to the MWI (Many Worlds Interpretation) where quantum superpositions don’t collapse, but spread, creating what amounts to new universes.  However, in this theory, the parallel worlds already exist and interact.

The team proposes that parallel universes really exist, and that they interact. That is, rather than evolving independently, nearby worlds influence one another by a subtle force of repulsion. They show that such an interaction could explain everything that is bizarre about quantum mechanics.

…Professor Wiseman and his colleagues propose that:

  • The universe we experience is just one of a gigantic number of worlds. Some are almost identical to ours while most are very different;
  • All of these worlds are equally real, exist continuously through time, and possess precisely defined properties;
  • All quantum phenomena arise from a universal force of repulsion between ‘nearby’ (i.e. similar) worlds which tends to make them more dissimilar.

Dr Hall says the “Many-Interacting Worlds” theory may even create the extraordinary possibility of testing for the existence of other worlds.

The fact that this might be a testable theory makes it seem more scientific than the more speculative interpretations.  From the abstract, this new view would be completely deterministic, with probabilities only arising from our ignorance about which worlds we are in and interacting with.

The actual paper is here.  The abstract and “Popular Summary” are readable, but the rest quickly becomes greek for non-physicists.  Hopefully we’ll see a write up soon from Sean Carroll or one of the other blogging physicists.

11 thoughts on “New interpretation of quantum physics: Many Interacting Worlds

  1. I’m not a big fan of MW theories. They raise as many questions as they solve, and they don’t violate Parsimony so much as utterly humiliate it. On the other hand, I do like quantum theories with alternate ontology. I look at the Standard Model, and a part of my mind yells, “Epicycles!” every time.

    Despite how well the SM works, I can’t help but wonder it we made it up. Once we see it correctly, the quantum and relativistic views don’t conflict. String Theory promised that, but so far it’s been only a tease.

    (We know, between GR and the SM, one of them is at least incomplete if not wrong. The general idea has been to quantize gravity, but I’m on Team Albert. Maybe quantum mechanics simply doesn’t describe spacetime and gravity. Maybe it’s just another duality. Maybe QM takes place on a smooth GR background. Maybe lots of things, but just, please, no gravitons. 🙂 )

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    1. I agree about many world interpretations and parsimony. Advocates typically claim they have mathematical parsimony on their side, but I’m not convinced that mathematical parsimony is necessarily the same thing as ontological parsimony. I actually don’t have a problem with people exploring these interpretations, only with anyone saying that we should adopt one as settled truth in the absence of evidence for that specific interpretation.

      On epicycles, I’ve thought the same thing, that maybe we’re at the Ptolemaic stage of particle physics. But both QM and GR have enormous empirical support. As I understand it, the problem is that where they differ is in places like black holes or at the Planck scale, neither of which is currently conducive to experimental investigation.

      It seems to me that gravity is a fundamentally different force from the others. I’m not really expecting gravitons to ever be found.


      1. Even excluding experimentation, it would be nice to have at least a theory that unifies GR and QM. As you suggest, the problem is that when you take QM down to really small areas, the math goes to hell — you get a singularity (like a divide by zero or other undefined result). But the math for GR is smooth, so vanishingly small areas are allowed by the math. Which is a problem for QM.

        GR predicts black holes because the math allows geometric points with mass. But those are below the Planck length, so QM has a mystery with BHs. What exactly happens at the singularity?


        1. My understanding is that many physicists see problems for GR in black holes as well. Both have a singularity (or singularities). In the case of GR, they’re usually described as infinities popping up in the solutions, rendering the equations unusable.

          That said, I can’t claim any familiarity with the mathematics. I’m just basing that on what I’ve seen physicists say or write.


          1. Yeah, I believe the question is: What exactly happens at the singularity? It has no size, but does have lots of mass.

            I’m no math-whiz myself, but I believe there are different sorts of issues here between GR and QM. GR has us scratching our heads about what a singularity actually is. QM has us scratching them about what happens sub-Planck level.

            FWIW: GR involves tensors, which I’m still trying to teach myself, but I would imagine the singularity problem is similar to what happens with distance and time in Special Relativity. As velocity approaches c, the denominator of the equations that give you distance and time approaches zero. At c it is zero, and you have a divide-by-zero situation. A velocities above c, now you have a square root of a negative number in the denominator which suggests distance and time are “imaginary” (or at least “complex”). 😀

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    2. In special relativity, at light speed, you also have infinite mass, which I would think represents a problem.

      Your mention of tensors reminds me of my own feeble attempt to understand GR several years ago. Tensors was one of several advanced math things I was told I would have to understand at the ground level, at which point I decided understanding the mathematics of GR wasn’t for me. Best of luck!


      1. Yes, for a different equation than for distance or time dilation. The famous E=MC2 links mass and energy. It takes energy to accelerate an object (with mass). That gives the object energy and hence more mass. It takes infinite energy to accelerate anything with mass to c.

        With a massless object you’re on the other side of the same equation E=MC2 comes from, and the applicable equation is E=PC (where P is a momentum term). You get E=MC2 from the same equation when you assume momentum is zero. The energy of photons and matter is related in the same equation.

        What I think is neat is that when you come in from playing out in the cold and warm up, you gain mass. When your hot coffee cools down, it loses mass (the mass of the steam that evaporates is way greater, but still).

        For that matter, most of the mass of the atom comes from the relativistic energy of the quarks and gluons in the nucleons. Most (matter) mass, quite literally, is energy.

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    1. Thanks! Very interesting, and excellent animations. Not sure if I understand it all (actually pretty sure I don’t), but the idea that the subatomic particles arise from gravitational fields interfering is mind blowing!


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