It was announced last week that the world’s population will grow from the current 7 billion to 9.7 billion by the year 2050. That many billions of people, each with his or her own story—in fact a lifetime of stories. Kind of boggles the mind, doesn’t it? And that’s just on our one little planet.
Instruments like the Kepler space telescope have detected nearly a thousand planets orbiting other stars in our galaxy so far, and thousands of other potential candidates. If each star in our galaxy has just one planet orbiting it, that makes hundreds of billions of planets. Who knows how many are habitable by some kind of species capable of thought and communication? Or maybe someday we’ll get to them.
Of course our Milky Way galaxy is only one of more than one hundred billion galaxies in the universe (if you want a conception of that, here’s a great link to a video courtesy of the Hubble Space telescope).
Are you gobsmacked by the possibilities yet? Well how about this:
Remember that time you were invited to a party but blew it off and went to a movie instead? Except you wanted to see Gravity and your friend talked you into seeing Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2. Did you feel bad about it (at least the movie choice, if not the party snub)? Don’t worry too much because in a parallel universe another version of you did go to the party, and a second doppleganger went to the right movie. Thank you, quantum physics.
That is, if you subscribe to some version of physicist Hugh Everett’s many-worlds interpretation. An overly simplified explanation would basically say that every time a quantum particle can either zig or zag it does both, perhaps zigging in this universe and zagging in an all-new universe that is just slightly different from ours from then on. Even if it only applied to the decisions made by people, there’d be a mind-boggling number of new universes floating around after just one day (even a universe where Miley Cyrus can keep her tongue in her mouth…maybe). Since there is an unthinkable number of quantum particles interacting at any given pico-second, the number of possible universes is literally incalculable.
What am I getting at? Nearly ten billion humans, billions more potentially-habitable planets in the galaxy, a hundred billion galaxies, and an infinite number of possible universes (some of which just have to allow for warp-speed to let us get to all of those other places). The conclusion?
It can never be possible to run out of stories to tell! Not to mention people to tell them to.
Now if I can just live another hundred years to make a small dent in that number.
And find publishers for them all of course.
Interested publishers can find my contact information on the “About Scott” page. Probably best if you’re from this universe, though.