Recently I’ve been on a quantum physics kick. The vague thought behind it was, ‘If I read a coupla books about quantum physics ‘for idiots’, I’ll be able to discuss multiverses and the principle of locality and sound like I know what I’m talking about. It hasn’t worked, so far, but it did occur to me that the existence of multiple universes is a reason to be cheerful. In one or more of those universes, my son is not dead, Donald Trump works for the Salvos handing out blankets to the homeless, and nobody got round to inventing the atom bomb. On the other hand, in other universes… Anyway, I highly recommend ‘What Is Real‘ by Adam Becker, though (especially if you enjoy reading about physicists behaving like the Spanish inquisition).
Multiple universes also sews up the problem of determinism vs free will. If cause always determines effect, then the entire course of history has been laid out since Event 1, and there is no such thing as free will. You think you’ve made a decision – but in fact, external and internal circumstances have come together in such a way that you couldn’t have decided anything else. Well, forks in the road with a universe for every possible decision gets rid of all that rubbish.
Last week I decided, in my wisdom, to get up on a wobbly ladder and steady myself with one hand on a nail-studded plank. In this universe, I fell off, the nail ripped a chunk out of my palm (it looked like the bite of a hungry were-toddler) and I went to hospital for three days. I couldn’t write, I couldn’t garden, and worst of all, I couldn’t play guitar! Still can’t. In another universe, none of that happened and I’ve already finished my novel to critical acclaim and public adulation. And in another, I broke my neck instead of my hand, but let’s not go there…
I did manage to write a very short (and grim) story while my left hand was in plaster, on the general theme of ‘What could be worse than COVID19?’. It’s called Plague… And I also promised to promote some free books (thankfully, this promotion bypasses the usual sexy billionnaire crap and most of the books seem worth a look, plus, apparently, you can win a pendant!).