SNP’s word of the day: Multiverse
Meaning: A hypothetical set of multiple universes existing in a possible reality; also called parallel universes.
Usage: “Short of invoking a benevolent creator, many physicists see only one possible explanation: Our universe may be but one of perhaps infinitely many universes in an inconceivably vast multiverse.” — Discover, December 2008
You should know it because: Haruki Murakami‘s newest, epic-sized novel, 1Q84, is finally out in English and hardcover. The subject? Even weightier than the text. Murakami, long known for creating some of the most contradictorily realistic dream-states in fiction, has imagined a world in which characters slip off their tracks and find themselves in other worlds—worlds that are subtly different at first, but deeply ominous. What is real? Everything? Nothing? That kind of stuff.
The year of Murakami’s book is 1984; main character Aomame mentally renames it 1Q84, because “it’s a world with a question mark in it.” In “real” life, the “multiverse” wasn’t given its name until 1985, by the American philosopher William James. Here’s the idea as well as I understand it, which isn’t that well: our universe is perfectly calibrated for our existence. If earth were a hair further or closer away from the sun, it’d be uninhabitable. If the basic matter-shaping forces present in the Big Bang were even slightly different, an element as essential to breathing as carbon wouldn’t exist. How is that possible? Ruling out the existence of God, physicists are left with an infinite conundrum. Enter the multiverse, in which other universes, all similarly created in the Bang, but different from ours. Or Hugh Everett’s “many-worlds interpretation,” based on one universe, split into several parallel worlds, populated by our doppelgangers.