'The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.'
― Galileo Galilei, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems
Photo by Rémi Jacquaint on Unsplash
The multiverse theory suggests that in the cosmos, there are multiple universes. Multiple, as in infinite. There are infinite universes. They exist, in parallel, side by side in realms of a higher dimension than we can perceive. Each of these universes comprises space, time, matter, energy, the physical laws and constants that describe it, and a different version of reality.
In this universe, certain fundamental quantities have constant physical values:
The speed of light: 299 792 458 m/s.
The gravitational constant: 6.67408 × 10-11 m3 kg-1 s-2
The mass of an electron: 9.10938356 × 10-31 kg
It takes 26 fundamental constants to create the universe and reality. This universe, and this reality: ours, of the infinite that could have been.
In this universe, these 26 constants dictate every aspect of our world; our existence, the sun’s, that it rises every morning. The air, the way it smells when it rains. The pang in our chest we call heartbreak. Laughter. That it is an emotion we hear. The colour of strawberries, their sweetness in June. That we have strawberries, and June.
Reality is what reality is because of 26 unchanging numbers, precisely titrated out of an infinity of possible combinations. A change of a degree of one millionth of a decimal point, a tremor a hairbreadth to the right, and the universe as we know it would not exist. Nor would you or I.
The speed of light could have been a neat 21.11. In some parallel universe, somewhere, the theory goes, the speed of light is just that. The mass of an electron, somewhere in the cosmos, is the mass of a Lucky Charms marshmallow. In another universe, electrons have no mass, or there are no electrons, or Lucky Charms.
In a parallel universe, my life would have unfolded on a parallel line, never intersecting with the sum of experiences that led to the girl I am now. All I have loved and lived and remember, all the little scars on my skin, in a parallel universe could be completely different. Or, possibly, not be.
Infinite possible universes. A cosmos of could, would, and might. We could have had our eggs a different way this morning. We could have had cereal. Or toast. I could have been a ballerina, a mother to a boy with messy hair. Perhaps in one universe I could have walked a line where I am never hurt, never disappointed, never scared.
But on that other line I could have never met you, never loved you, been loved. The possibilities are endless, but one cannot touch or taste them like strawberries in June.
Astronomy, cosmology, physics, philosophy, religion and psychology, even literature, music, and art, every field of human intellectual inquiry has tried to make sense of this concept. Trying to understand why this universe, why 299 792 458. Why 26 constants, here, now. Why us. Searching for a reason, or none.
Meanwhile, we are here, you and I, your hand in mine, on the floor. Nursing cuts and massaging bruises from blows we have just been dealt. We did not choose this line we are on, but this is the line we are on. Let us wait a while longer, then we will get up, and I will walk it with you.
We will make it beautiful. It already is, and the most perfect of infinite combinations, because it is real and because in it, you and I exist.