[This was my weekly column for GlobalNews.ca. – AC]
On the most infinitesimal level of reality, normal physics breaks down, and we end up struggling with the strangeness of quantum mechanics.
Amongst the many theories seeking to explain how the universe works at the sub-atomic level is the Many-Worlds Interpretation (MWI), first brought forth by physicist Hugh Everett in 1957. At the risk of oversimplifying everything, the inherent uncertainties and probabilities of the quantum world, the MWI says that if you can imagine an outcome for a certain event, then there somewhere exists a universe where that outcome is reality.
(If you want to go down this rat hole, just look up “wavefunction collapse” and “quantum decoherence.”)
The MWI is a fun place to play when it comes to creating speculative fiction. What if Nazi Germany had won the Second World War? Then we might have ended up living in a scenario similar to what we see in the TV series The Man in the High Tower. Quentin Tarantino had fun with alternative universes in both Inglourious Basterds (Hitler and his entire crew are wiped out while watching a movie) and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (the Manson murders were thwarted). Canadian sci-fi writer Robert Sawyer has a trilogy of novels where Neanderthals did not go extinct. Writer Philip K. Dick, a big fan of the MWI, once delivered an address called “If you find this world bad, you should see some of the others.”
Once you start getting into these what-if scenarios — here are some examples — your imagination starts to run wild. Can we apply all this to music? Absolutely. All of this is pure speculative fiction, of course, but it does make for a fun series of thought experiments.