Even if you’re not a science nerd or a science fiction reader you’ve probably heard of the “many worlds” theory, “alternate universe” theory, the “multiverse” or one of its many other names. The idea is that there might exist a very large, or even infinite number of universes very like this one but slightly different because something happened there that didn’t happen here. It’s a part of quantum theory, which can get very weird, but it’s not fantasy. The theory has been around since the late 1950’s, credited to American physicist Hugh Everett. The simplest explanation is that, if a particle in motion is able to go left or right it actually does both. Of course, it can’t be in two places at the same time in one universe, so a second universe is split off. In one of them the particle went left, in the other it went right. The two universes had identical histories up to that point, but are never quite the same afterward. Taking a left turn instead of a right might make a big difference, and the differences will grow greater as time goes on. Since these splits could be happening all the time, you can imagine that the number of possible universes is vast.

If a tiny micro-particle has the ability to do that, imagine what a human being could do? We’re not only a lot bigger, and able to exert a lot more influence over things, but we do it consciously: we make choices.

Imagine creating a new universe with every decision you make? Do you feel the godlike power?

Better than role-playing games. Even better than being an author. Because these universes are real! And I’d like to think that all of us (with the possible exception of psychopaths) would choose to create a universe that’s better than this one, even if only by a little bit. That would just mean choosing to take an action that would make the universe a better place.

Although the many worlds theory has terrific fiction potential, and I’ve used it a few times in stories (including my first published story “No Walls”)…I don’t actually believe it. Sorry. Just too complicated and unlikely from my point of view.

However, I know it’s possible to change this universe, creating an alternate future from the one that would have happened. It’s what we do every day. We go to work in appropriate clothes and on time, thereby preventing the alternate future where we’re out of work and on the street. Every decision we make affects the future, which means that our every choice can make the universe a better place or a worse place. Maybe we’re not gods who create a new universe every time we make up our minds, but with every action we do steer the universe we’re in.

News came this week that the level of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere increased at a record rate over the past year. This, when we’re supposed to be taking action globally to stop the greenhouse effect. Sunday September 21, 2014 people all around the world will be marching to draw attention to climate change, hoping that world leaders will actually do something meaningful about it before it’s too late. A simple web search will provide details about the event nearest you. Why not take part? Sign a petition? You’re a universe-changer with godlike power, remember? Or even if you don’t march you can make a choice to walk to the convenience store next time, turn the furnace down or the air conditioner off.

Make the right choices. Create the universe you want.


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.