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Worlds apart

Last week found Daedalus musing on Everett's ‘many worlds’ interpretation of quantum probabilities. If a quantum choice happens to go one way in our world, there is some other world in which it goes the other way. Thus everything that can possibly happen, does happen, in some world or other. Your wildest secret fantasy is actually coming true somewhere. Conversely, in some world or other, there is an individual for whom your ordinary humdrum life is his wildest fantasy.

Indeed, says Daedalus, that is why we have the fantasies we do, or enjoy mental creativity of any kind. The many Everett worlds are embedded in a set of equally valid vector subdivisions with mixed, non-physical quantum states: the ‘spirit world’, through which information can leak telepathically between the Everett worlds.

But Daedalus now reckons that physical communication may also be possible. A quantum event in this world, such as a radioactive decay, must have its counter-event in another world, to preserve the total sum of possibilities. Daedalus recalls the enigmatic Schmidt machine, whose electric lamps are lit at random by pulses from a radioactive source. Some people, it is claimed, can predict by ESP which lamp is going to light next. Some can even will a given lamp to light next. This telepathic ability to influence quantum states could signal to another Everett world, in which the complementary decay is occurring. Physicists there could read the message in the nonrandom decay pattern of their sample. They could even signal back in the same way.

Now one counting experiment on 60Co and 137Cs has found, against all expectation, that their decay was serially nonrandom1. Someone, somewhere, is signalling to us! So Daedalus advocates a careful search for the lack of randomness in quantum events. Radioactive decay is an obvious example; electrical circuit noise is another; chaotic phenomena that rapidly amplify sub-Heisenberg irregularities to the macro scale are another. The field is vast and totally neglected; a positive outcome would be revolutionary. Many thinkers have imagined the likely form of coded messages from other civilizations — lists of prime numbers, the digits of π, and so on. They may be taken aback if the first signals seem to be descriptions of other people's fantasies.


  1. Anderson, J. L. & Spangler, G. W. J. Phys. Chem. 77 3114–3121 (1973).

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Jones, D. Worlds apart. Nature 395, 550 (1998).

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