Split Identities and Parallel Universes

Splitting into two (or more) identical selves appears to be a process of simultaneous creation: Each identical self becomes separate from the other, resulting in the original self being replicated. The original self is now gone. Did the original self perish? What if YOU were the original self -- before (and after) this existential transformation?

I have researched several ideas on this topic, exploring the famous theories of Hugh Everett and John Wheeler regarding multi-universes and quantum worlds. It seems apparent that if these complex speculations are true, then all of us must be splitting apart -- all the time.

Flip a coin. The universe splits into separate (or parallel) branches of itself. In each universe, you examine the coin as faceup or facedown. In each scenario, each of you remains unaware of the other.

Your original self is still you, but there’s also a duplicate of yourself in a different dimension. Your other self reaches a complementary conclusion. Nothing unfamiliar during the transition has been experienced by the other. In addition, you’re each continuous from the state of being you were in before the coin’s flip and your subsequent duplication.

Let’s take it a step further. What if you split apart in the SAME universe? Suppose that you’re sitting on a park bench. You split into a pair of identical entities, each one separate from the other. Each one is sitting on the opposite side of the bench. The logical result: You’ll each experience a sudden shift to the left (or right) side of the bench -- but which of the sides will be a statistical coin flip. Each person who identifies as you will be sitting on the opposite side of the bench in the same universe.

Let’s add some jalapeno sauce. Suppose that each time you split on the park bench, your left-shifting duplicate is killed -- a nano-second after the split. The question becomes: Have YOU died? The answer: Perhaps not. The most plausible reason: each time you split apart, you find yourself on the right side of the bench. What else could you expect? Your other self is dead! Perhaps your reaction on the right side of the bench is to emit a sigh of relief. But is that emotion of relief justified?

Let’s not stop there. What if thousands of sequential experiments take place on the park bench? Should the lost duplicate in each experiment be considered a murdered soul -- or just a flicker in time? Perhaps the definition of death should be reconsidered. A nano-second of existence in reference to the doomed counterpart seems too short a period to contemplate. The left-shifting duplicate resembles a deleted time fragment, similar to a mental blackout. On the other hand, you (as the conscious survivor) remain intact and undergo a shift to the right. Perhaps the existential question of murder becomes a factor only if the doomed counterpart’s prelude to extinction is extended in duration.

Could this kind of logic open a quantum loophole in the accepted folklore surrounding our concepts of mortal death? Perhaps it depends on a specific set of extra-dimensional preconditions. This idea is not new. For example: suppose that you die in this life, but your identical self (in a duplicate universe) escapes that fate -- due to a random set of variables on the other’s parallel world. Your original consciousness, at the threshold of immediate cessation, continues to exist. It departs from the critical point of variance to merge with the other. After all, infinite possibilities exist. Could not one of them be a perfect fit?

The crucial question now becomes: Could you and your counterpart merge together to continue as One? Could identical parallel selves shift back together, to reappear as the original? Perhaps under meticulous conditions. But keep in mind that re-assemblage of the original might pose several barriers to success. The unique experiences of each separate self, prior to their re-assemblage, might clash together in the final product. Self-conflicting memories might be dismissed as schizophrenia or dementia.

It all depends...

When it comes to parallel worlds, infinite replications, quantum universes, and human consciousness, the ultimate truth might be a cascade of astonishing possibilities -- a fleeting quasar of mind-bending paradoxes.

All of them but flickering shadows, cast from the glow of quantum gaslight.

Written by John DiPrete

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