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How Many Parallel Worlds Are There?

  1. Mar 18, 2009 #1
    If we accept the many-worlds interpretation, how many parallel worlds are there? Finite? Countable? Uncountable? Even bigger? Do we need to bring the continuum hypothesis into it?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 19, 2009 #2
    Well, in MWI there is only one world...Just different branches which dont interact. So lets call them 'worlds'

    Based on the Quantum Decoherence ideas, any system with finite energy has finite number of states, and it has finite maximum entropy. So the number of 'worlds' is also finite (for the given isolated subsystem).

    Our observable universe at any moment is finite in size and energy, hence, the number of branches in it is also finite (and we can not be decoherenced with any events outside our observable part of the universe)
  4. Mar 19, 2009 #3
    Nothing in quantum physics is described by an infinite dimensional state vector?
  5. Mar 19, 2009 #4


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    The explanation is rather simple, if every bit of infomartion is decoded to 0 or 1 (nay or yay) then the number of world is the number of sequences of 0 and 1, which we know from set theory what it is.
  6. Mar 19, 2009 #5
    If they never interact, with what experiment would you be able to test for their existence?
  7. Mar 19, 2009 #6
    I don't see how this is related to quantum physics, or the many-worlds interpretation.
  8. Mar 19, 2009 #7

  9. Mar 20, 2009 #8


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    Quantum physics tells you that before experimenting you have a probability for certain outcomes.
    Now the many world interpratation tells you that all of the possibilities for the other outcomes which havent happend do happen in other worlds, and because every outcome can be represented as a string of 0 or 1 as happening in our world, each world can be represented as a string of 0s and 1s of occurrences in our world, the set of all these worlds is unaccountable as a set of sequences of 0s and 1s.

    I look at the large scale, quantum cosmology, and not in a certain finite volume.
  10. Mar 20, 2009 #9
    Interesting question, but the replies leave me more confused than I was before.

    I suppose there are different versions of the MWI - some say that there is division on measurement (which reintroduces a version of the measurement problem), others that there's splitting whenever there's superposition (which introduces the preferred basis problem).

    On the second view, I would have guessed that there are uncountably many - the reason being that a quantum system can be treated as an integral of position eigenstates and that there are uncountably many of these, each corresponding to a branch. And, I suppose, even if we think splitting happens only after measurement, and there's a branch for each possible result, because any value of position is possible, there would be uncountably many branches.

    MathematicalPhysicist: I didn't understand your reply. How are these strings of 0s and 1s being generated? Why does every outcome correspond to an infinite string of 0 and 1, and why does every infinite string of 0 and 1 correspond to an outcome? You need a 1-1 correspondence between the two to get the result.

    Dmitry: interesting link, but I don't understand Max Tegmark's argument.
  11. Mar 20, 2009 #10
    Classical mechanics: How many possible orbits can you imgine for Earth rotating around Sun? Infinitely many. Any system of 2 gravity-bound objects can be in infinite number of state.
    QM: How many states can you imagine for the Hydrogen? 2 (on the ground state) - ortho- and para-
  12. Mar 20, 2009 #11
    I think he means that all the information in the universe can be coded into bites, 0 & 1, based on this information, one can calculate the number of times universe splits, because one could predict all the events that occur in the universe.
    In this interpretation according to quantum theory- in any event, what happens, all the possible outcomes that are possible, do happen, even if the probability is very small. Just every outcome that is possible, happens in different universe or parallel world, that means universe splits. And it is speculated that the most probable one happens in our universe, thats why we do not see really bizarre things here ;)

    For example, if we collapse electrons´ state to spin +45 or -45, we see only one of these spins in OUR world, but actually the other possibility too happens, only in other universe
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2009
  13. Mar 20, 2009 #12
    I'm still confused about the answers. Our observable world might be at any time finite in size and energy, but what if the "splitting" happens infinitely often during a finite time period?
  14. Mar 20, 2009 #13
    In standard quantum mechanics, there are uncountable many positions at which you could observe a particle, the set has cardinality of the continuum of real numbers C. This would imply that each event has C outcomes. The number of splittings can be put into correspondence with the moments of time which are another uncountable set of size C. It seems that C times C = C so there are C world in the that interpretation.
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