Popular that the topic has gotten, the existence of multiple realities in nature has been of lot of question and debate recently. Not that it is any less than the attention that has gone to the school of people who believe in the existence of one and only one reality – the one we are part of and some others who believe reality is a huge mesh of inter-woven realities few others who claim that it’s just a really long recurring loop. Here I discuss my opinions on all these schools of thought in a simple way, the way I perceive it.
Time Travel has been a hot topic of discussion for decades and centuries now. It has been thought of and depicted in many different books and movies alike, for example, Interstellar, Back to the future, Avengers: Endgame and very recently on the popular Netflix series: DARK. Each one interprets it and portrays it in their own way and they all are pretty much right in their own unique way since there is no way to prove it in the present.
Imagine you have successfully built yourself a time machine. The one that allows you to get into any day and time of the day you want. Now, say you go back to your past, to a time when you were young and killed yourself. Yes. The future you, kills off the past you.
We will use the above example as a case study and use it to explain its effects on the line of events that will follow as per the schools of thought i.e. the set of people who believe that there is one and only one reality, the ones who believe in the existence of multiple strings or even layers of realities and the people who believe it’s a loop.
a) Singular Reality: There was, is and will be one and only one reality - the one we are currently living in. Any distortion in its time-space dimension will ripple out to the entire co-dependant reality system.
Imagine reality to be a tree. This isn’t the ordinary tree that exists in nature with roots beneath the soil, a thick bark, with branches high in the air, leaves and fruits hanging at these branches, No.
The tree of reality is far more complex in its structure. More so than the imagination can itself imagine. It(reality) was born during the Big Bang and has been growing ever since. Each branch correlating to an event; an event that branches out into smaller branches and further into even smaller branches and even to the last twig where the growth ends and the event attains completion. All of this is connected to the bark of the tree which here, signifies the Big Bang-the beginning of all events. The roots refer the events in reverse (meaning: coming together of various cosmic events) that led to happening of Big Bang in the first place.
The concept here is that every single event is related to another that either led to that particular event happening of will lead to it happening in the future, therefore being connected naturally. Like cutting one branch of a tree gets down all of its sub-branches, leaves, fruits etc along with it, likewise, altering even one event will cause drastic changes in all other events connected to it.
For the perfect example, we will consider the example I referred to previously (refer the example above again).
Say I use my hypothetical time machine to go back in time and kill the older me. The immediate effect of this event will be on me itself because the future me will cease to exist at that very moment. Next, all events that happened around me will change their course of time at that very instant. My wife, say, will have never married me at all. My kids will never exist. Any living creature I might have killed or hurt knowingly or unknowingly, will be healed and come back to life. This is just the physical aspect of it. Think about the emotional aspect. Any fights I might have had that might have hurt someone else who in turn might have hurt someone else who might have in turn broken something in rage which in turn might have led to his parents being angry on him, every one of these events will reverse themselves and will never have happened and as you can see, it is very, very complex to imagine. All that huge line of events that were related to one another will never happen. Even more, think about the monetary aspect. A car I might have bought, a house I might have rented will be completely gone. The tax I might have paid to the government who in turn might have used it to build a road. That piece of road that was used to build with my money, might never be there at all.
So, as you can see, in this school of thought, where they believe in the existence of only one reality, reversing or undoing one event (here, my existence) will lead to a cascade of drastic happenings in other events as well. Simply said, changing your past will not only affect the future and the present but also the past of the past that you erased.
b) Multiple (Plurality of) Realities: there exists in parallel, a large series/sets of realities that do not interfere with one another but yet, are connected independently by one event that lead to the creation of the sets of events. A time travel will mean a temporary connection between two identical strings of these realities that will cease to exist once it has served its purpose i.e. the creation of another set of realities.
This is the more complex version of the Singular Reality theory. Many singular realities woven together in infinite layers and sheets of realities is what makes up the basis of the Multiple Reality Theory. Imagine a piece of cloth. This is cloth is not a single piece of material. It is made of many threads woven together. These threads are in turn made up of fibre which in turn are made up of the raw material. Here, each fibre can be considered as one co-existing reality that is interconnected with other realities but, independently. Which means they are connected to each other and yet distinct. This will best be explained with the case study example. (refer to the above example again).
Say with my hypothetical time machine I managed to go into the past and kill myself. Unlike last time. I won’t cease to exist the moment I kill the past version of myself, instead this will branch the realities into another set of parallel realities. But in those set of realities, I will never have been born. My existence and any event related to my existence will never have happened. In simpler words, we will now have two sets of realities: one where I exist and one where I don’t with both these sets of realities different and independent of each other. Now when I go back to my reality, nothing would have changed. Everything would still be the same as it was before. For a split second, there would be a connection between these two realities as it splits into two separate realities and that connection would be me killing my past self. At any point after, these realities would be independent and distinct. This net of realities separated just by a minor or major event each will form a massive web of realities that cannot be imagined with the power of mind itself thus making it difficult to come to a conclusion or even debate on their existence. This theory has been a constant topic of discussion due to its ability to answer most questions put forth, but again nothing can be said of its actual application since it hasn’t been proven.
c) Loop theory: Reality is a loop. Every event that is happening and has happened in this cycle of the loop has happened every single time in all previous cycles of this loop and will continue to happen again. This loop is predefined and the cycle remains the exact same every loop cycle.
The loop theory, though not very famous, has its own sets of believers and Is relatively easier to understand as compared to the other theories in existence but has problems answering some basic questions that other theories can answer.
In this theory, it is believed that the entire reality cycle, right from Big Bang in the past to the Big Crunch in the future, is a big loop. Every event that has happened or will happen, has happened the exact same way before in the previous cycles of the loop and will also happen in the future the exact same way. The best example to imagine this is a movie that is being played in an infinite loop. Right from the initial sponsors section to the end credits, all the way through, again and again. It is already predefined and playing it again and again for whatever time, will not change a thing in the movie at any point. The exact same way the Loop Theory of Reality states that the reality we are in now has already been played out millions of times and it keeps looping around forever and any event cannot stop or break out of this loop but it was always part of the loop and meant to happen that way since forever.
This theory, as you might have already noticed, has flaws. It fails to answer questions like our example case study. Also, the possibility of the exact same reality playing over and over again seems dubious and unrealistic. Thus, this theory isn’t that famous and not considered seriously for research purposes.
These are some of the many schools of thought that try to define realities. It is also important to note that these are just theories and cannot be proven by the level of technology we have now. So, coming to a conclusion on any one right now, isn’t possible. When science someday comes up with a way to travel time, we will be in a better position to imagine and prove these theories. Until then, all we can do is wait.