The universe is not alone, there are other universes which exist beyond ours.
Well, that's the theory anyway. Some have even speculated that when one universe bumps into, or mates with, another one, there is a big bang (!) which gives rise to a new universe. One offshoot of this theory is:
There are parallel universes which exist alongside ours and everything that could have happened, has happened in at least one of them.
Of all the concepts I have come across, I find this the most disturbing. It would mean that, in some universe or other, everyone dear to us would have suffered or died. When what gives meaning to our lives is keeping our loved ones safe and seeing them grow up healthy and happy, the parallel universe (or multiverse) theory kind of makes everything we do pretty pointless and makes a mockery of free will and achievement. Then again, it could be that what is real to you is a particular thread of consciousness, so that if at a particular point in spacetime you fell asleep at the wheel of your car with a high probability that you crashed and died but also a possibility that you woke up in time to stay in control of the vehicle, your thread of consciousness would seamlessly continue on in the one you woke up in and the others wouldn't exist for you. On the plus side, it would also mean that everyone yu have lost on this particular strand would still be alive and well somewhere in the multiverse. It's still a bit unsettling though isn't it?
One of the main reasons for suggesting this parallel universe theory seems to be an attempt to get around something called the Anthropic Principle. It seems that, in our universe, conditions are just exactly right for us to exist, and for some scientists, the odds of this seem very improbable. So, according to this theory, either the universe was specifically designed for us to be here (which gives credence to some very dodgy ideas that are gaining influence in some parts of the western world and causing havoc in school science lessons) or that there are an infinite number of universes, all existing simultaneously and some of them obeying different laws of physics. So since ours is just one of these, it's just a coincidence that we are here and we can feel better about it in view of our restored insignificance.
Then again, suppose the universe is here, it works the way it does and we were able to evolve in it because it works the way it does, end of! If it worked differently we wouldn't be here.
Maybe sometimes our theories get so convoluted that we loose sight of common sense.
Then again, according to Stephen Hawking, not only might there be an infinite number of universes and possible futures but also an infinite number of possible histories, and it may be that we create our own future and history by the very act of observing them. Perhaps there is only here and now and the whole of spacetime (past and future) and its apparent contents (including us) are created by us by the act of observation.
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