After the many ramblings I made regarding Dark Matter previously, I want to turn around and think about Baryonic Matter again. Ordinary Matter is something that physicists know much more about than the mysterious Dark Matter and Dark Energy, even though in reality they do make up more than 95% of our known Universe. We are more knowledgeable about Baryonic Matter because of its presence all around us, after all, it is everything we can see and detect: from forms of life, elements in the Earth’s crust and mantle, buildings, cars, the Earth, the Sun, all of the stars… you get the idea.
Now, the stuff that makes up the matter. Firstly what comes to our mind may be elements, which are a table of 100 odd substances that are often called the “primary constituents of matter”. These elements can be identified through their chemical properties and are placed in the Periodic table in order of increasing atomic number (the number of protons in its atom’s nucleus).
Atoms are another level down from the elements of the periodic table, which distinguishes different types of atoms. Atoms themselves is another study on its own. In the early 20th Century, Rutherford and a couple other physicists discovered an awful lot that directly correlates to our modern understanding of the atom through an experiment – firing alpha particles at a piece of gold leaf.
In the previous post I introduced the Many World’s hypothesis of Quantum Mechanics which is a possibility of parallel universe. Exploring possibilities of what types of parallel universes could exist may sound like science fiction however like time travel and teleportation, the idea of parallel universes is often the subject of mathematical and experimental investigation. In a recent episode of Star Talk, Michio Kaku mentioned the joy of trying to defy the impossible in his everyday job as a theoretical physicist.
The term parallel universes could seem vague and confusing to some. Exactly what is a parallel universe… Alternate timelines? An entire universe on its own outside the observable universe? Do parallel universes of all possible historical timelines exist? The matter is a little complicated. Physicists often use the words parallel universes to describe several different hypotheses of a number of possible universes outside our own combined to form something called the Multiverse. Hence the idea of parallel universes arises from the multiverse theory itself.
Having attended European Researchers’ Night (also known as Explorathon) in the Glasgow Science Centre, the extensive work of post-graduate researchers left me intrigued. Perhaps the most memorable was the talk with a Quantum Physicist about polarization of photons. Tempted, I then asked him, “What is your favourite interpretation of Quantum Mechanics?” He replied, “This is a pretty debated topic among physicists but I have to go with Many Worlds. I’m a Many Worlds person.” The Many worlds version of Quantum physics is the second most popular interpretation after the standard Copenhagen. Many worlds, also known as parallel universes is probably deemed one of the most out of this world interpretations of Quantum Mechanics and is commonly used in science fiction. Many people are fascinated by the term parallel universes, maybe it’s the appeal that alternative possible realities would exist and their lives turn out differently – though most don’t give it a second thought and just dismiss it for a fantastical perception.