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Chapter One Late-Night Quantum Thoughts Any technology that is sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic Arthur C Clarke Life in Other Universes Gaunt hair unkempt and skin a ghostly shade David Deutsch cuts a strange figure even by the standards of the eccentrics and oddballs that so often inhabit the upper reaches of science Yet appearances can be deceptive Talk to Deutsch and you wont find the withdrawn head-in-the-clouds academic you might expect but someone who is articulate personable and exceedingly bright Youll also quickly discover this is an individual whose ideas about life and the universe are bigger and more radical than those of anyone you are ever likely to meet As I drove from London to visit him at his home in Oxford a fatal accident on the road alerted me to the bizarre implications of some of Deutschs ideas in particular his resolute belief in the existence of an infinite set of parallel universes -- the multiverse as he calls it Within the multiverse there are endless alternate realities in which supposedly a huge army of mutant copies of everyone on this and other planets plays out an almost limitless variety of dramas According to this world view each time we make the smallest decision the entire assemblage divides along different evolutionary paths like some vast ant colony splitting off in divergent directions In the process large numbers of our copies suddenly embark on different lives in different universes Presumably I thought in some of those fabled other-universes the truck in front hadnt jackknifed the accident hadnt happened the crash victims were still alive and I was now on my way instead of stuck in a jam But did that mean the victims would therefore feel as though they had survived regardless of the accident because they would only be aware of the universes in which they had continued to live A foreshadow of this
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