Sunday, March 23, 2008

Eels and the multiverse

Before I got went away and got sick, I watched a documentary called "Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives" via the BBC Iplayer. This was a strange documentary about Hugh Everett III who invented the many world interpretation of quantum mechanics. The documentary was narrated by Hugh's son Mark Everett (known by some as E). The documentary was weird in some sense, because it was both a celebration of his father's life, as well as a settling of scores. There was not a lot of love in Mark's life. The only time he held his father was when he picked up his father when he died. There was a lot of sarcasm in the way the family talked. Mark hadn't done well (as in flunked) in maths or science. So part of the trip was him traveling to famous physics places such as Princeton to ask about quantum mechanics and his father's work. Everett did the work on the many Universe theory iof quantum mechanics when he was a graduate student. This interpratation of quantum mechanics was not popular, so he left academia to join industry. As time passed the many universes theory of quantum mechanics gained in popularity (not with me though of course), so before he died Hugh started to get invited to conferences. Reading between the lines, it was clear that Hugh was a bit bitter that his revolutionary theory had not taken off. However, he also seemed the classic Prof. type who was not very talkative. Some part of the documentary was sad. One of Hugh's daughters committed sucide. In her sucide note she said that "she would meet her father in a parallel Universe." Mark Everett is a singer and musician in the band called the Eels. The Eels are an alternative country band, who are famous enough to make the soundtrack for one of the Shrek movies. They are famous enough to have their CDs in the discount section of fopp. As part of my research I bourght a copy of the eels CD "beautiful freak". I didn't like it as much as some of the live tracks I saw on the documentary. The one problem I did see with the documentary was that it didn't mention that many physicists still feel that the multi universe interpratation of quantum mechanics is bollocks (and that includes the multiverse that the stringers like).