Parallel Worlds

When I read some of the stories of alternate universes, from The Flash of Two Worlds to Crisis on Two Earths to Crisis on Infinite Earths to all the many, many others, I think of string theory. Strings are one dimensional and smaller than the quarks which make up subatomic particles. These strings still have structure, mass, and vibratory rate. Mathematics indicate there are a number of types of string, but only some of them aren’t used in this universe. This may be an indication of parallel universes.

This should be self-evident

This should be self-evident


I haven’t seen anything in the literature which applies the logic of that, but comic books do. Some parallel universes are very like our own. They may have all the same strings, but those strings may be at a different vibrational rate than the strings in our universe.

On the other hand, another universe may use different types of strings, some different from the ones in our universe, or maybe all of them. The more a universe differs from ours by having different strings the less like our universe it would seem likely to be.

So the same strings with different vibratory rates might be likely to give rise to a very similar universe. We shouldn’t take that too far. After all, a universe might be very similar to ours on one level except that the single change could make it look very different to us. For example, the time between the big bang at the origin and the big crunch at the end of the universe could be, and I haven’t done calculations, fifteen minutes.

But we might get to a close parallel universe if we could change the vibrations of our existing strings. Kind of like what Barry Allen can do, and did to go from Earth-1 to Earth-2. At one point Green Arrow describes the two universes as being about as close as it’s possible to

Just a short hop.

Just a short hop.


get. He may actually be right.

According to string theory (or some versions of it at any rate) the parallel universes may see a number of alternative versions of each of us. The idea that different versions of ourselves are in various universes, without examining why they would be there or how many there are is certainly worth pursuing. That would explain why Earths 1 and 2 each has a Superman, a Batman, and a Wonder Woman. What it doesn’t explain is the existence of parallel versions of the Flash, Green Lantern, the Atom, Mr Terrific, Wildcat, and so on.

 This is not actually the result of decisions by Hal Jordan and Alan Scott.

This is not actually the result of decisions by Hal Jordan and Alan Scott.

In each of these cases a different person takes that costumed identity in different circumstances and with different costumes. Their powers vary from one person to another. The Atom either has the power to shrink or has superstrength. The two versions of the Flash vary in how fast they can initially accelerate (Earth 2 is faster) or how long they can keep their speed up (Earth 1 has greater endurance).

And if you take away the costume and the super powers and especially the name, there is no parallel between Jay Garrick and Barry Allen. If you add in the powers and not the name, there is as close a parallel between Johnny Quick (Johnny Chambers) and the Flash of Earth 1.

In some ways Earth 2's real parallel to Barry Allen.

In some ways Earth 2’s real parallel to Barry Allen.

In fact, it might be closer. Johnny Chambers and Barry Allen are both blond. But then, Johnny Quick (published by DC) was a parallel to the Flash (published by All American) – a ripoff in old fashioned language.

As vibrational differences are greater, the parallel universe would be increasingly different. According to some theories our own actions can cause change the course of later events. In this, universes are thoughts to diverge.

Here we may be looking at something more like Earth 3, which not only has differences of who, when, and in what way people become superheroes/villains. Earth 3 operates as a kind if inversion of the world we know. For example, Britain broke away from the United States, which colonized it. President John Wilkes Booth was assassinated by Abraham Lincoln.

A little further away, a little more different, not only the individuals but the history

A little further away, a little more different, not only the individuals but the history

The heroes of Earth 1 are the villains of Earth 3. So instead of Superman there is the Ultraman, instead of being weakened by Kryptonite, he gains powers from it. Instead of Bruce Wayne surviving his parents’ murder, his older brother Thomas Wayne Jr survived (Bruce died) and became Owlman, an evil version of Batman.

The villains of Earth 1 are the heroes of Earth 3. Alexander Luthor is their greatest hero, and a version of the Joker also defends the oppressed.

Further out the parallels might be fewer. Costumes and powers may be ever more different. So there is another parallel universe with Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr, Bulletman, Bulletgirl, Mr Scarlet, Pinkie (yes, that’s his name), and others. Another world might have Uncle Sam, the Human Bomb, the Ray, the Phantom Lady, and Doll Man. Both universes have been written about.

And other variations of universes with superheroes might exist. They might have more distant versions of the originals. So they have Hyperion and Dr Spectrum and other members of the Squadron Supreme. Or they might be even more distant and have even less parallels with heroes like Captain America, Scarlet Witch, and Black Widow (though she might be a parallel to Batman).

Alternate universes, though I don't know what they're doing.

Alternate universes, though I don’t know what they’re doing.

If universes can indeed divide they can apparently also affect one another which might mean it’s possible that whole groups of heroes might disappear from a universe. This is not only the big budget kind of disappearance like Crisis on Infinite Earths but the almost unnoticed similar dissolution of heroes in Marvel’s sudden writing of mutants out of its current comics and history (except for Wolverine who parallels Power Girl in having an exemption from extinction).

As the strings are replaced the universe may be even less like our own. In reality I’m guessing you wouldn’t survive for long in a universe lacking some strings you need or having some you don’t. However, that doesn’t give a good story. It’s like stories with people in spacesuits who, without any testing, assume there’s an oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere would fatal toxins, bacteria, viruses, or fungus.

Oddly enough, this might be this universe not another one. Mind you, if I returned from a parallel world to this, I would not think, "I'm home."

Oddly enough, this might be this universe not another one.
Mind you, if I returned from a parallel world to this, I would not think, “I’m home.”

In this we may be looking at something more like the Negative Zone, or Ditko’s alternate universe where Dr Strange goes to fight Dormammu. In these parallel universes the laws of physics may be different or may be the same but operate in fundamentally different ways (I’ve seen that phrase in the literature but I have no idea what it really means). Given the topography of the Negative Zone and the realms of Dormammu as seen in the comics the universes seem to have a string pattern closer to each other than to our universe. That is, they look alike and both seem to have a remarkably breathable atmosphere which doesn’t need gravity to coalesce around anything.

A little tiny sky island or path in either place will have a breathable atmosphere even if there’s a much larger object nearby which would in our universe suck up the atmosphere. Clearly, something’s working different somewhere.

Simply because no one’s drawn anything weirder, we might take this as being about as far as an explorer can go into other universes before physics just kills everyone outright. I say this only from comic book reading because physicists aren’t certain if we can confirm the

existence of parallel universes let alone work out the physics on the other side of the barrier.

We don't even have significant interplanetary travel and he wants to go to other dimensions.

We don’t even have significant interplanetary travel and he wants to go to other dimensions.

After all, under the theory of cosmic inflation, other universes have different constants. Simple example, in our universe take a square with a side measuring 1 (they’re everywhere) the length of the diagonal from corner to corner will be 2. But in a bubble universe, Pythagoras’ constant could be a different value entirely.

Also Superman might actually work.

But, there is a theory that as the universe – our universe, this one right here – expanded, the high levels of energy reduced at an uneven rate from place to place. This meant that within our universe are pocket universes where the early rate of expansion is maintained despite slower expansion in surrounding areas.

I guess these pocket universes are what the Time Trapper makes when he creates a universe where Superboy started out in the 1930s and stayed there for decades. In this the pocket universes are like the bubble universes except they seem to be larger and more stable. So unlike everybody else, the Time Trapper gets into and out of these pocket universes without trouble and, frankly, should do so more often because it’s kind of fun and Silver Age.

This is actually more awesome than it looks.

This is actually more awesome than it looks.

This might even explain the Amalgam universe, in which characters from DC and Marvel were combined. For example, Batman and Wolverine were combined into Dark Claw (without a cat or threatening to get Inspector Gadget next time). Dr Strange and Dr Fate were combined into Dr Strangefate.

So a lot of the alternate universes of comic books in both DC and Marvel can be hobgoblined (look, I invented a new verb) into theories of physics.

Some of them may not be, of course. After all, Steve Ditko created to realms of Dormammu but also the alternate realm of Nightmare. Dr Strange goes into either realm with equal ease. Whether he goes in physically or simply astrally projects varies between stories and writers. But the occult has always thought this universe (even without any parallel universes) is not limited to the physical plane we know.

Without getting into all the details (and there are a lot of them) there is at least one other expression of this universe available to those who have the magical skill to do so. They can project their astral bodies (a kind of ghostly duplicate) and see things they couldn’t see where they are physically.

In early Dr Strange stories, Dr Strange’s astral form looks just like him but is in black and white.

The astral form can also be sent to realms which have nothing to do with the physical plane. There are an awful lot of techniques to do this. Dr Strange tends to use a spell or the eye or the orb of Agamotto. In real life people enter into these other realms and leave their physical forms lying or sitting about some place.

Dr Strange simply goes into these realms. (It looks like he’ll do a lot of it in the forthcoming movie.) As our dreams are meant to be half-remembered astral experiences, it seem in at least the case of Nightmare, we’re talking about some kind of astral realm. Whether Dormammu’s territory is the same thing is less clear.

He goes into other realms, though not right here

He goes into other realms, though not right here.

However, it is possible that all astral planes – at least in comic books – are actually some kind of recollection of some kind of perception of alternative universes. So the variations in alternate universes in comic books are reflected in modern physics. Unfortunately this is not a lot to write home about because the physics is mere theory. The parallel universes explain certain anomalies like random decay of a radioactive isotope.

They don’t have direct observation of these events. The earliest scientific mention (but not a full theory) was probably Schrodinger. But let’s face it, that cat has been in the box since 1935, so it’s dead. In terms of physics, time is a dimension and along its length there is variation.

Hugh Everett III came up with the many worlds interpretation (MWI) of quantum mechanics in 1957. Under his theory, instead of events being a steady state or single sequence, every possible past and future exists simultaneously.

Taking the thing from any one point, however, every decision you make is also made in its opposite. However, this is always spoken of as a dichotomy: you do it or you don’t, you go on a date with that person or the other person, and so on. But I have yet to see anyone take into consideration decisions which are of no consequence. For example, if you are going to eat two french fries does it matter which you eat first? If this choice will give rise to a new universe, the difference between the two universes is truly useless.

Reed Richards addresses this issue with Ben Grimm. Ben went to the past and gave an earlier version of himself a cure for being the Thing. It wouldn’t work on him, it did work on his earlier version. But, since he is still the Thing, he seems to have created a new universe.

However, we learn that when Galactus comes to the world without a Thing, he comes without a Silver Surfer. So there was no new universe.

According to Reed Richards, Ben’s action might help determine how small a change it takes to make a new universe.

But Richards is still this is talking about a split of a universe into two. What if there are three people you might have a date with? Are there then three universes out of the one? The division of universes would then vastly greater than originally suggested. Choose one of twenty prizes? Twenty more universes.

Each change creates a new universe. This is a phenomenal number. In fact, it’s infinite and this is accepted by physicists. But not only is it infinite, it is a higher order of infinity. Put it this way, in grade school we are told infinite is infinite and one infinity is not bigger than the other.

Not true. When you were in grade school you were right.

Take a set of numbers. All whole integers: {0,1,2,3,4,5,…} Infinite numbers. Now take all whole even integers: {0,2,4,6,8,10,…] There are numbers in the first set which aren’t in the second set. The first set is a higher order of infinity.

The parallel universes form and yet we are to accept possible further contact between universes. Like Ben Grimm, we are in danger of creating new universes and every time we contact that new universe both our and that universe would split into two (or more).

DC’s idea of 52 universes was out of the window before you finished the first sentence of this article because more that 52 new universes were created in that time. Hell, there was more than that created before you got through the first letter.

It seems that in creating universe there is no such thing as friction or entropy. Nothing slows it down – according to some versions of the theory. But contact between universes have apparently continued. Ranga-Ram Chary of the California Institute of Technology has found a ‘bruise’ in the background radiation of the universe. This he interprets as possibly meaning our universe bumping into a bubble universe.

If so, it seems other universes can still affect our universe. If the force that causes the division can be harnessed it might mean any decision considered in this universe can made manifest even without physical cause. The bruise could take physical form within this universe in terms of the decision an individual contemplates. I would guess that would have to come through some kind of device or similar focus.

That would be how a power ring works, I guess. I didn’t consider that before. I might not be considering it now if I had a social life.

Physics hasn’t come up with a theory for a power ring, but as ancient Hinduism and science fiction came up with the idea in the first place, I guess physics is just trying to catch up. Maybe they should get some comic books. Just a thought.

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