Research Question: Could the Notion of Choice Effect the Multiverse Theory
Our lives are dictated by the ideals of choosing what’s best. Choosing the outcome one thinks would benefit them is the driving factor behind every choice made and every action taken. It’s only natural that the Notion of Choice would be able to change the very fabric of how someone lives and how the World reacts to them, this idea also has a name: The Butterfly Effect. The Butterfly Effect comes from the old belief that with the flap of a Butterfly’s wings in one part of the world comes a natural disaster in another part of it. This extends into the belief that every action, no matter how small or inconsequential it may seem, has a consequence.
When it comes to choice, my mind always wanders to the thought of how our choices might effect everything around us. Could our actions have a bigger consequence than we can expect? Well that’s where something called Multiverse Theory comes in.
The Multiverse Theory is an idea often times shared amongst the many generations that ponder the existence of something greater than our world. The idea that out there, somewhere farther than we as Humans could ever possibly imagine, is a whole other universe with something different about it. Something that makes it an entirely new experience compared to ours. The differing quality of this other universe could be anything; The Axis Powers winning WWII, The Industrial Revolution failing to kick off, The Spread of the Black Plague becoming worldwide, but in my eyes these changes could only occur from one thing: The Notion of Choice.
For my project, I want to explore the topic of how the Multiverse Theory relates to the ideals of the Butterfly Effect, and how the Notion of Choices having set reactions and consequences could cause another universe to sprout into existence. Using examples in Science Fiction such as Peter Ramsey’s Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse or Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon’s lovely animated series Rick and Morty.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. Directed by Peter Ramsey, Produced by Columbia Pictures and Sony Picture Animation. 2018
The movie Into The Spider-Verse is a great example of the Multiverse Theory in Science Fiction, because the whole movie revolves about Universes colliding into one another. However, it’s also a great example of the Notion of Choice effecting other Universes. In the Movie, first Spider-Man we see is the perfect example of Spider-Man. He’s cheery, he’s heroic, he’s determined, and he’s a role model. Everything about him is perfect, and the Movie knows this which is why we get to see the flipside of this Spider-Man in the shape of his alternate self Peter B. Parker. In comparison, where the initial Peter Parker is the perfect definition of a Hero who gets back up, Peter B. is the opposite. He loses almost everything that’s important to him because he makes all the wrong choices and ends up being a Spider-Man way past his prime, all because of the way his choices were different from the Initial Peter Parker’s that we see.
Sloat, Sarah. “Into The Spider-Verse’: Parallel Universes Explained by Physicists”, Inverse, https://www.inverse.com/article/51808-spider-man-into-the-spider-verse-science
When it comes to Multiverse Theory, there’s no other place in Science Fiction to turn to than Comic Books. Throughout the years, more and more comic books and superhero type stories have used the idea of Multiverse Theory to create different versions of heroes and villains to help them stay relevant in the ever changing demographic they exist within. Thanks to this, and the immense popularity that came with Into The Spider-Verse, the question of the validity of Multiverses existing within close enough proximity to be brought together has come to light. Luckily, Sarah Sloat is there with a team of Physicists in order to help tackle the subject of Into The Spider-Verse’s example of Parallel Universes existing and being reachable by a particle accelerator. Surprisingly enough, it’s not far off from being possible, as stated by the fact that “So, physicists accept parallel universes, sure, but even in the wildly theoretical world described by string theory, there are rules — and Into the Spider-Verse breaks a big one.” (Sloat, 8).
Kim, Meeri. “The Physics of Rick and Morty“, Slate, https://slate.com/technology/2017/07/rick-and-morty-gets-multiverse-theory-wrong-thats-ok.html
In Science Fiction and Pop Culture nowadays, there’s no show more infamously talked about by the nerds and fans of the whacky world of science than Rick and Morty. With a show that takes a jab at everything and leaves even those with a higher IQ wanting more, Rick and Morty is among the few instances where Multiverse Theory is tackled at multiple intervals in multiple ways. So much so that Meeri Kim took it upon themselves to attempt and explain the physics behind the show’s comedic concept of the Multiverse.
Ward, Cassidy. “Science behind the Fiction: What the Reality Behind Multiverses and Alternate Realities?” Syfy, Amazon Prime, www.syfy.com/syfywire/science-behind-the-fiction-alternate-reality-multiverse-string-theory
In this Syfy Article, Ward talks about the presence of Multiverse Theory within a plethora of various novels, shows, and media examples. On of which, an Amazon Live Action series titled The Man in The High Castle details an Alternate Universe in which the Axis powers win WWII. The series itself is more than enough to serve as an example, but it goes even further by having a reference to our world thanks to an in-World novel titled The Grasshopper Lies Heavy where history plays out the way it does here and the Allied Powers win.
Alexander, Donovan. “Just Like Your Favorite Comic, We May Be Part of a Bigger Multiverse.” Interesting Engineering, interestingengineering.com/just-like-your-favorite-comic-we-may-be-part-of-a-bigger-multiverse
In this wonderful article posted to Interesting Engineering, Alexander not only explains the basis of Multiverse Theory and what it is, but he brings up the points I want to try and make with this entire research project. What if? The Universe is amongst one of the biggest and strangest things we as Humans have ever experienced. So who’s to say that another Universe that’s close by would be the exact same? As he says in the later paragraphs of his “In one universe, you could have a different job, blue hair, be born in a different country, and so on. Trippy right?” (Alexander, 20). It all depends on the choices that both of the instances made and how different they are.
Abbruzzese, John. “On Using the Multiverse to Avoid the Paradoxes of Time Travel.” Analysis, vol. 61, no. 1, 2001, pp. 36–38. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3329154. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.
This article talks about using Multiverse Theory to better counteract the paradoxes of Time Travel. In it, Abbruzzese talks about how most media featuring concepts of Time Travel make it apparent that using Time Travel frivolously can have dire consequences that immediately affect the person who caused the rift, unless of course there was another Universe outside of the one where they existed in which the direct result of the Time Traveller’s actions took full effect. This strengthens the ideas of the Notion of Choice because of how important the decisions a Time Traveller(s) made when they jumped back in time. Even doing nothing at all would lead to another Universe being made where they actually did do something.
The Butterfly Effect. Directed by Eric Bress & J. Mackye Gruber, Produced by Katalyst Films & Blackout Entertainment. 2004
Another Time Travel film with the idea of Choice effecting things to such a great scale that they end up creating a split reality, The Butterfly Effect features the idea of a man being able to travel back to his childhood in order to try and fix the various traumas he suffered. Evan, played by Ashton Kutcher, has the strange ability to travel back into his childhood self whenever he reads his old journals from that time. With each time he goes back, Evan changes something about his past and therefore causes a rift in which that event he witnessed never happened and now never affected his life. This ends up creating various other timelines, even one where he ends up as a quadruple amputee, but it makes me wonder about how his choices truly affected his life. Like the initial choice to go all the way back to his childhood, how had that affected the self that witnessed the trauma? Is his initial timeline, his Prime Universe, just completely erased because of his actions? It’s showed that he’s had blackouts since he was a kid and that those blackouts were his adult self travelling back and taking over his body, but is there a universe without those blackouts? Was he doomed to discover this power?
Donnie Darko. Directed by Richard Kelly, Produced by Flower Films. 2001
With the end of the world coming in a couple of days, and a strange rabbit named Frank telling you to commit crimes, what else are you going to do but play along? Donnie Darko is a strange film to say the least, but a definite must have when it comes to exploring the idea of Choice and the Multiverse Theory. Throughout the film, Donnie is faced with the fact that the world is going to end and that the only things he can trust are the words of a strange man in a sinister looking bunny suit. With this in mind, Donnie does what Frank tells him, and although they are a string of violent crimes they end up helping those in need like causing a closeted pedophile to get ousted after burning his house down and several other things. In the end a vortex swallows the world and Donnie with it, yet he wakes up at the beginning of the story like nothing ever happened. Much like Donnie, you’re left questioning if what he experienced actually happened or if that was just him having a bad dream before a plane crashed into his house. You’d be right to suspect the latter, but there’s evidence of traces of the events being real with the fact that after the Prophesized end occurs and everything goes back to the beginning, characters interact as if what had happened drew them closer despite never even talking before. It makes you wonder, is the supposed “End” actually the third loop and did Donnie’s actions affect the outcome of this new universe? Did Donnie experience all that he did throughout the story because of something that might’ve happened to cause a first loop? Was Frank a figment of Donnie’s prior trauma from the first Vortex which only showed up to try and help him better the outcome of the second?