Essays, Analyses and Meditations

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Alive and Dead

  • I wonder if we ever die. I have been close to dying several times. I wonder if i have died in some parallel universe, and perhaps remained alive only in this one.
  • We are trying to reconcile the essence of the micro-world (in which a particle can be in two different places at the same time) and the essence of the macro-world (in which i can be in only one place at any given time). I wonder if there is nothing to reconcile at all, if the micro-world "is" the way things are, if i "am" in multiple places at the same time.
  • A wave function provides a history of a particle in terms of superimposition of states: the particle "is" at the same time in all of those states. We assume that this does not apply to "macro" objects: a stone is only in one place, the place where we see it. Scientists have long debated what causes the "collapse" of reality: the transformation from the superimposed state to the unique state.
  • I wonder if that transformation never happens at all, and we all are in a superimposed state at each moment of being here and not being here, of being alive and being dead.
  • A literal interpretation of the wave function is that, at each moment in time, the universe splits into many universes, one for each possible state. At each moment in time my life splits into many lives, one for each possible outcomes of the action that i am performing now.
  • I am alive in all universes in which... i am still alive. In this one i am writing this essay. In other universes i might be doing something else. In each one i am conscious of what i am doing.
  • I may have died in several of them, and, by definition, i am no longer aware of them. In those universes i have been buried by my relatives. In this universe, though, i survived. Tomorrow there might occur another event that has my death as a possible outcome. Then the universe shall split into many universes, and i shall die in at least one of them, and remain alive in the others.
  • The probability of being alive will keep decreasing as more and more of the possible outcomes are death. I wonder if the probability ever goes down to absolute zero, or if there are still rare universes in which some people are thousands of years old.

I received this interesting comment by Reid Yoder It sounds like you're treating the set of possible outcomes as a finite set, wherein a percentage could be applied. In other words, you're stating that, as one grows older and older, the percentage of possible outcomes resulting in staying alive continuously approaches 0%. However, when the universe is constantly splitting into new outcomes, the number of possible outcomes is always infinity. Even on a micro scale, there is always an infinite number of outcomes.
Instead, I think it should be stated that the probability of any life-outcome from the infinite set of life-outcomes becoming the reality approaches 0%. So the statement "...will keep decreasing as more and more of the possible outcomes are death" should be changed to "...will keep decreasing as the likelihood of a death-outcome approaches 100%". Because, again, the number of outcomes will always be infinity. Thus a second dimension of percentages has been created, resulting in an extremely complex web of probability wherein each outcome yields its own probability.
So maybe that answers your question -- "Does the probability of staying alive ever go down to absolute zero, or are there rare universes in which some people are thousands of years old?" The answer is that all humans are immortal in the context of all universes, but mortal in the context of a single universe. Your question deals with the latter; a single universe. New outcomes will always be created, so the probability of staying alive will never reach absolute zero. But it will approach it. When considering all universes however, the universes wherein I am thousands of years old are in fact not rare at all, but just as likely as any other. If the probability that I die tomorrow is 99%, the 1% possibility of me staying alive shouldn't be considered rare at all, because the rare universe wherein I stay alive will spawn a new, infinite set of universes. In that sense, I am immortal.
Proof-edited by Alexander Altaras