News from Around the Multiverse
“Parallel universes are not just a staple of science fiction. Other universes are a direct implication of cosmological observations”…. Max Tegmark 1
Scott Steelman © 2012
This explanation of my current artistic endeavors might satisfy the curiosity of those who would ask, “So what have you been up to lately?” I have been developing a conceptual approach to artistic expression through a unique structure called “The ART of Trans-Universal Exploration”.
Just as the voyages of ancient mariners produced exotic souvenirs from faraway lands, my explorations are bearing artistic realizations in the form of paintings, digital art, music, literature and audiovisual concoctions. It’s the trip of a lifetime – let’s get started!
Where are you? Well, you could check your GPS device to find out. As for me, I just returned from getting a haircut on the other side of town. I certainly know my location, including what city I’m in, the county, the state, the time zone, the country, the continent, the hemisphere and of course, my planet, solar system and galaxy. All these subsets of position exist within the ultimate all-inclusive most massive megaspace – the UNIVERSE. That includes everything there is, right?
Not so fast! For almost a century now scientists have suggested there could be more out there. Many theoretical physicists consider it a “done deal”. Various interpretations of quantum physics predict other universes and other dimensions, although it’s a tough thing to prove at this point. However, many features of reality (ie. the existence of microbes) were unknown not so long ago. But whatever you call them, there ARE other worlds, in fact, MANY other worlds. Let’s talk!
Perception starts right inside my own head (gee, it sure is dark in here!) Now I’ll venture out to explore by first opening my eyes. Hey! There’s the cat, and my steaming coffee, and all the stuff in my house. The neighborhood is visible through the window. Turn on the TV and computer and I can see happenings around the globe. For that matter, tonight I can watch LIVE as a spacecraft lands on Mars, which is right next door in our cosmic neighborhood.
Let’s come back to Earth for a moment. Our early ancestors inhabited a treacherous world that kept them busy just seeking food and shelter, let alone contemplating other universes. However, two gradual developments got them thinking about it: language and art. Using these tools they could begin to imagine other situations and places like, “Wouldn’t it be great if we caught that plump juicy ground sloth for dinner and then found a dry cave for the night?” Or “If we live long enough, someday we’ll just order out for Chinese.”
Developing language with “infinite combinations of symbols”, according to Nobel laureate François Jacob, enabled early humans to engage in “mental creation of possible worlds”.2
They also expressed in primitive paintings a view of the world sometimes different than their own harsh reality. The mind’s imaginative powers developed to enable visualization of other possible worlds where things were better and life was easier. These seem like mere musings of some caveman, but some modern philosophers like David K. Lewis3 posit that any possible world that we can imagine actually exists…somewhere. According to his theory of modal realism, these worlds may be slightly (or vastly) different from ours, but still just as real. Even the ancient philosopher, Plato viewed reality as consisting of parallel universes: our own and another of “pure being” – of ideas and forms.
Philosophy is one thing, but there is also hard science correlating with these notions. Einstein, with his theory of relativity and it’s multidimensional nature, put scientists on the path of searching for new dimensions that were somewhere beyond our universe or at least beyond our perception. Later theories in quantum physics developed by Erwin Schrödinger4, Hugh Everett5 and others showed that other worlds, amazingly, occupy the same space and time as we do, but are folded within imperceptible dimensions called Hilbert6 spaces.
Also, the well-established laws of probability and statistics necessarily predict that an infinite universe must contain multiple exact copies of our world as well as many others that are merely similar. Currently, prominent theoretical physicists like Stephen Hawking7, Max Tegmark1, David Deutsch8, Simon Saunders9 and David Wallace10 all agree that there is no longer reason to doubt the existence of other worlds.
“We inhabit a box called the ‘known universe’. We must think out of it to peer beyond it.”….Scott Steelman11
As an artist, the first step is to enter the space I call the Virtual Explorium. Within this framework of multiverse theory, one’s point of view expands to reveal the infinite possibilia of other worlds and other dimensions. What can be seen there depends on where one looks and who’s doing the looking. My personal perception relies on science, intuition, creativity and my own contextual experience – that is, what I have learned and observed in this universe.
My task is to examine how altered variants within other universes change them for better or worse. These alternate worlds become interesting in ways that are intellectually stimulating, inspirational or just downright comical. Once I get my bearings in an OtherWorld, I can choose to exit immediately if it’s too scary, intimidating or boring. Though in each of these realms I always learn or feel something before heading on down the cosmic road.
These travels produce thoughts and impressions that are, in turn, manifested in the visual, aural and intellectual ART that I produce. The results include paintings, computer art, poetry, prose, humor, philosophy, music, video, and hybrid combinations of all. This is my own collection of exotic souvenirs from beyond the everyday world of Mundania.
Could things be another way? Yes.
Are things another way? Somewhere.
Should things be another way? Don’t know.
“Quantum Barrier” – Scott Steelman
One way to find out is to go look and compare the results from Here and There. Of particular interest to me are developments in language, art and science that may or may not have occurred in other worlds or possibly on a different timeline therein. Much can be learned by reflecting our own culture in the mirror of alternate universes. I’m also examining variations in biological evolution which depend on the conditions in each universe. Those that are devoid of life may still contain other features and Worldscapes of artistic interest.
This is where things get sketchy (I get it!). Bear in mind that during these long-winded explanations my tongue sometimes gets caught in cheek, but let me now discuss methodology.
I search, then observe.
I study, then postulate.
I research, then deduce.
I probe, then predict.
I experiment, then interpret.
I analyze, then extrapolate.
I contemplate, then nap.
1 Max Tegmark, (b.1967) Professor of Physics, MIT
2 François Jacob, (b.1920), French biologist who won the 1965 Nobel prize in Medicine
3 David K. Lewis, (1941-2001) eminent American philosopher
4 Erwin Schrödinger (1887-1961) Nobel prize winning physicist, co-founder of quantum
5 Hugh Everett III, (1930-1982) American physicist who proposed the Many-Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics
6 David Hilbert, (1862-1943) German mathematician, formulated Theory of Hilbert Spaces
7 Stephen Hawking, (b.1942) British theoretical physicist- discovered Hawking Radiation
8 David Deutsch, (b.1953) Professor of Atomic & Laser Physics, pioneered Quantum Computing
9 Simon Saunders, (b.1954) Professor of Philosophy of Physics at Oxford, noted for his work on quantum mechanics
10 David Wallace, (b.1976) Philosopher of Physics at Oxford – noted work on Everett’s Many-Worlds interpretation of quantum theory
11 Scott Steelman, Artist, Composer, Explorer
Many thanks to the brilliant “Neuro-Artistic Transfer” specialists at The International Center for Higher-Dimensional Studies. Their revolutionary methods of extracting data from psychosensitive test subjects using hypnosis and brain imaging have facilitated the study and indirect observation of hitherto unknown dimensions of existence. More results from ongoing experiments will be documented in the 2013 issue of “Quantum Jitters“, the journal of the Royal Society of Inter-Universal Alternate Realists.
Also thanks to my colleagues at The Institute for Multiverse Research (Etna, Ohio) where tasteful renderings of optical emissions are synthesized in the Neurovisual Lab & Test Kitchen.
Chomsky, Noam. 2006 Language and Mind, Cambridge University Press
Deutsch, David. 1997 The Fabric of Reality, Allen Lane, Penguin Press
Deutsch, David. 2011 The Beginning of Infinity, Viking Press
Greene, Brian. 2011 The Hidden Reality, Borzoi, Knopf
Jackson, Frank and Priest, Graham. 2004 Lewisian Themes…, Oxford University Press
Jacob, François. 1982 The Possible & the Actual, Pantheon Books
Krauss, Lawrence M. 2011 Quantum Man: Richard Feynman’s Life in Science, W.W. Norton
Lewis, David K. 1973. Counterfactuals, Oxford: Blackwell
Lewis, David K. 1986. On the Plurality of Worlds, Oxford: Blackwell
Perplexus (the Great One) 2012 The Book of Lunch, Explorimedia
Wallace, David. Dec. 8,2010 The Everett Interpretation, Balliol College, Oxford
Wallace, David. 2012 The Emergent Universe, OUP Oxford
Most everyone has had a taste of Trans-Universal Exploration similar to the Lewisian version of Other Possible Worlds. In his theory, philosopher David K. Lewis explains that any possible worlds that we can contemplate are as concretely real as this world and full of actual characters and objects. Perhaps you have entered these worlds on occasion. Is the following scenario familiar to you?
You’re facing an important decision and deliberating upon the proper course to take. It seems prudent to weigh the pros and cons. To be thorough you must consider all the ramifications of your choice such as how it will not only change your situation, but how you will adapt and how other people will react, which might create still different circumstances, etc.. It’s somewhat like playing chess, where you must anticipate many possible responses to your next move and then consider the consequences of each successive move and the possible counter moves. But unlike chess pieces, the people in your “journey of thought” are real. Places and objects are real. Things that happen are real within your scenario. You’re visiting these possible worlds to determine how to proceed in this world.
In a whimsical way, I use a similar method to explore scenarios in other possible worlds. Excuse me now for I must be on my way. Ta-ta!