Did you know that due to the nature of matter that given enough time, material and space there will at some or other have to be an identical copy of you?
The bigger the universe gets the more likely there is to be a copy of you out there somewhere and that’s because in the approximate 1 cubic meter of space that you inhabit there’s only so many finite combinations of matter that can occur, hence the idea that if it was physically possible to traverse the universe, it’s highly likely that you could not only meet your doppelganger, but it becomes a mathematical certainty if the universe is a Googolplex across?
No not Google, but Googol.
A Googol is 10(100) followed by one hundred 0’s (one hundred zeros) and is more than all of the elementary particles in the entire observable universe, which come in at a mere 1 followed by eighty zeros. In comparison, a Googolplex is a staggering 1 followed by a google of zeros or 10(10)(100).
It’s the nature of matter to keep on repeating its combinations. Stars can be classified by spectral class, some galaxies have the same type of shapes as others, planets can be separated into broad types by mass, chemical composition and the characteristics of its atmosphere as a result of repeating cosmological patterns. Likewise here on Earth, you can recognise a tree by the repeating patterns of its leaves or bark and predict the weather by looking at the sky, from far enough away all swans look the same.
The universe unfolds due to deterministic laws as laid out during the initial starting conditions of the big bang. Tiny fluctuations in the universe’s inflation at the dawn of time led to the formation of our own galaxy that is host to our own solar system and our own planet that once was home to the dinosaurs as well as being the final resting place of the asteroid that wiped them out 65 million years ago. In order for there to be an identical copy of you out there that has had the exact same experiences and possibly even the same thoughts as you in a different part of the universe that sits in an identical galaxy and solar system that has experienced an indistinguishable history to our own all that there ever needed to be is a duplicate of the initial fluctuations in the expansion of spacetime that occurred in our region of the big bang!
In other words what can happen once in nature can surely happen twice…
In a big enough universe there should be enough fluctuations in the initial moments of the big bang that there are not only identical copies of you living identical lives, but there are near duplicates that live similar lives and others whose existence is radically different to yours.
It seems that every possibility of repeating forms must exist in a universe that is big enough.
So the question becomes is the universe big enough?
Well perhaps not, but in recent years a new theory has been gaining ground of eternal recurrence, in other words, that when the clock of entropy has run the universe down to the point that there’s no movement of any particles at all we will get a second big bang, and then when that universe has run down, we’ll get a third and a fourth and so on for all eternity.
“What if some day or night a demon were to steal into your loneliest loneliness and say to you : ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it you will have to live once again and innumerable times again; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unspeakably small or great in your life must return to you, all in the same succession and sequence – even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself.’”
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science.
That’s because a universe in which there can be no more disorder is mathematically exactly the same as the singularity that started it all of in the first place. Zero can be presented in a multitude of forms. In mystical terms it seems that when you have nothing, something has to happen, each new universe eventually begets another and another and so on, thus it’s only a matter of time before an identical arrangement of matter such as yours comes into being again. As previously mentioned all possibilities must be true in enough and space and time across multiple universes spawned one after the other (and this doesn’t even consider the implications of the many worlds or Everett interpretations of quantum physics) in which every decision or die rolled spawns a multitude of new universes in which every possibility exists.
“The eternal hourglass of existence is turned over again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!’ Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ‘You are a god, and never have I heard anything more divine. ‘ If this thought gained power over you, as you are it would transform and possibly crush you; the question in each and everything, ‘Do you want this again and innumerable times again?’ would lie on your actions as the heaviest weight! Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to long for no thing more fervently than for this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?”
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science.
Quantum physics and cutting-edge cosmology aside the question we need to ask ourselves is ‘are we and our duplicates the same? This is where it gets really interesting because our first impulse is to say no. These copies of ourselves are separated from us by space and time, we’re not connected to each other we have no knowledge of the activities of our doppelgangers and as such, they may as well not exist. Also, they are made up of different atoms to ourselves. They might look like us, talk like us and think like us, but they are not us. Yet every day we gain new atoms and lose some too, so the individual atoms and molecules that make up our bodies aren’t actually that important, we still have a sense of persistence, of being ourselves despite the changes that our bodies undergo thanks to entropy and its effects within our environment. As I frequently say in my other works, at best we can describe ourselves as a pattern in the universe, a mere arrangement of atoms that exists within a much larger cloud of atoms. The pattern seems to be important but the atoms, not so much. This returns us to the same problem if two objects have the same ‘pattern,’ are they the same?
Objectively the answer is ‘yes,’ they are one and the same, subjectively the answer is ‘no,’ because your experience of mind is unique to you. In the realm of matter, all duplicates are ‘you,’ even the divergent ones that are having different life experiences and look slightly different to you are for all intents and purposes ‘you,’ albeit in other circumstances, in the realm of mind you are it seems unique. This is a theme and topic I’ll return to in a later article as it diverges somewhat from the main point of this essay, that in infinite time, with infinite space and unlimited materials across multiple universes that your most outlandish fiction is taking place somewhere else. You cannot conceive or imagine anything that is possible under determinism that isn’t taking place somewhere else right now or hasn’t already occurred in the distant past or the extreme future. This becomes even more mind-boggling when you consider that physical laws may vary with each passing universe whether it occurs in succession or alongside this one as per the many worlds interpretation is unimportant.
In another universe, you might be a Viking raider, a brave crusade night, a Nazi concentration camp guard, a fortune 500 CEO, a rear admiral, celebrity, or a truck driver who’s down on his luck. All things must happen it seems. In a distant galaxy in a distant universe possibly, there must be a little blue man standing next to every single lamp post that you pass by. In other realms you might be the king or queen of England, this makes us wonder what is imagination? After all you can’t imagine anything that isn’t already taking place at a distance. Is imagination a type of clairvoyance or remote viewing?
I’ve based some of my philosophisings on the abstracted and simplified knowledge that I hold of the work done by the renowned scientist Sir Roger Penrose who as far as I know has not argued for any of the materialist forms of reincarnation that I’ve posited today. That’s because his mind is on bigger things (namely cosmology) that I’ve talked about in the last few paragraphs, as a philosopher I am interested in the ramifications of scientific theory and how their implications feed into the sensation of being. If ‘A’ leads to ‘B’ then ‘B’ must lead to ‘C’ and so on.
More reading –