EEAAO’s Multiverse is based on real-world science. It incorporates Hugh Everett’s Many-Worlds theory, along with quantum mechanics.
“In another life, I would’ve really liked doing just laundry and taxes with you”, said Waymond Wang, oblivious to the fact that this “other life” he imagined was much more than just a dream.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is being touted as one of the greatest science-fiction films ever made. It explores the depths of human emotions using the story of a family and their journey through multiple universes.
However, the concept of a multiverse isn’t exactly new to audiences.
Iconic films such as Back to the Future, 12 Monkeys, and MCU films have explored the concept in great detail.
So, what sets EEAAO apart from this growing crowd?
EEAAO’s Unique Multiverse
EEAAO’s multiverse is based on the theory that every choice you make, or every event that happens in the universe, creates a branch of its own within the universe. This is known as the Many-Worlds theory.
For instance, upon flipping a coin, the two basic possibilities are that it lands on either heads or tails. Consequently, there’s going to be at least one universe where this coin lands on heads and another one where it lands on tails.
Now, just because the coin lands on heads in our universe doesn’t mean that the coin didn’t land on tails anywhere else. It means that we could see it only in the universe where it landed on heads. Sound familiar? Does this remind you of a particularly popular cat, perhaps?
Schrödinger’s Cat—an Analogy For The Multiverse
Erwin Schrödinger, in a now-legendary thought experiment, placed a cat in a sealed box with a flask of poison and a radioactive source. A few possible outcomes of this setup were as follow: The cat dies due to radiation; it dies upon consuming poison; it dies eventually due to starvation; it survives; or the cat does not exist in the first place.
According to Schrödinger’s theory, however, all of these events are happening at the same time, just in different universes.
The cat hypothesis is Schrödinger’s metaphor for quantum mechanics, specifically our observations of subatomic particles. It is known as the ‘Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics’.
Moreover, it leads us to the concept of quantum superposition, which states that a quantum particle exists in all of its possible states at the same time. This is exactly how Evelyn Wang was a laundromat owner, chef, actress, and married to Deirdre, instead of Waymond, all at the same time! Everything is happening everywhere… all at once.
The Many-Worlds Theory
While Schrödinger introduced the idea of quantum superposition, it was Hugh Everett who introduced the idea of the universe splitting into different versions or branches whenever such a quantum choice occurred, thus spawning the Many-Worlds theory.
EEAAO depicts multiple such universes: one where the conditions on Earth can’t sustain life; one where humans possess sausages for fingers; one where Evelyn lives out the life of Michelle Yeoh herself, etc.
However, only the inhabitants of a universe called the Alpha-Verse know about the existence of other universes.
One might think, “How are sausage-fingered humans biologically possible?” This is where the explanation for this multiverse lies.
Traversing The Multiverse
The Alpha-Verse’s inhabitants discovered the existence of the multiverse and figured out how to travel to the other universes within it. However, it’s not possible for humans to physically break the space-time continuum, i.e., the continuity of time in the universe. Instead, they travel to other universes by tapping into the minds of the versions of themselves that live in those universes.
This is done by making a choice so bizarre that it leads the maker of this choice into the consciousness of their alternate selves from another universe. Each universe has its own unique path in the form of a choice.
Examples of such choices, as presented to Evelyn throughout the movie, include wearing her shoes on the wrong feet, peeing her pants, professing her love to the woman trying to bash her head in, and more. Each choice is so bizarre that it helps its maker transcend their own universe.
However, these choices represent something even more bizarre: Nothing shown in Everything Everywhere All At Once is a scientific impossibility.
Where Does EEAAO Meet Real-world Science?
All quantum particles are constantly in a state of superposition, and one state of any quantum particle always affects its other movements. For example, the velocity of an atom will always affect its position, which will affect its momentum, and so forth. This phenomenon of one quantum property interfering with another is known as quantum interference. It leads to a state wherein every property of a quantum particle is coherent with its other properties, known as quantum coherence.
This concept of quantum coherence is what forms EEAAO’s multiverse. These sausage-fingered humans wouldn’t thrive in our universe, which is why they exist in a universe of their own. In their universe, human evolution led to fingers existing in the form of sausages because that’s what their universe required for survival.
Similarly, in the universe where Evelyn is a rock and there are no human beings, there was no evolution, since there were no humans to evolve in the first place. Human life wasn’t coherent with this universe, so rocks inhabit that version of Earth.
The Beauty Of EEAAO’s Multiverse
While Everything Everywhere All At Once may be a bit fantastical in its characterization of Jobu Tupaki and the “everything-bagel” it places at the center of its multiverse, the science used in the film is based very much on real-world scientific principles. It manages to blend quantum mechanics and human behavior to tell a story of how maybe life is a sum of all its parts; how even the positioning of a single atom can drastically change how our lives and timelines will play out.
The story of Evelyn Wang shows us how, whether through the coherence of the quantum particles within us or the coherence of the choices we make throughout our lives, each one of us truly is everything everywhere all at once!
How well do you understand the article above!
References (click to expand)
- The Many-Worlds Theory, Explained. MIT Press
- What did Schrodinger's Cat experiment prove?. West Texas A&M University
- Schrödinger, Erwin (1887-1961). University of Virginia
- JR Brown. (1996) Thought Experiments - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford University
- What is a space time continuum? - Gravity Probe B. Gravity Probe B
- Quantum Interference of Light. University of Texas at Austin
- Quantum Coherence and Dynamics | Rosenbaum Lab - Caltech. California Institute of Technology