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Quantum Weirdness 106: Are dreams real?

 “Reality is wrong.  Dreams are for real.”–Tupac Shakur

It has been advocated–I can’t recall by whom–that our sleep dreams may actually be real events in an alternate universe.   I doubt it;  that’s too far over the top for my taste.  But the following unusual dream–one I’ve actually had–will serve for now as my final installment of the Quantum Weirdness Primer.   It’s a fitting intro to my next two conjectures, both of which deal with the possible nature of consciousness in relationship to quantum physics.  The dream was short and unexciting, but opened up a Pandora’s box of questions.

The Infinite Office Building

The Flatiron building as it appeared around the time of my father's birth in 1919.  It wasn't actually in the dream, but it's just too cool not to include.

The Flatiron building as it appeared around the time of my father’s birth in 1919. It wasn’t actually in the dream, but it’s just too cool not to include.

I am working in an art-deco era office building in the Flatiron District of Manhattan.  It is a beautiful, clear spring day and the New York skyline fills my panoramic view.  I get up to go to the water cooler when a realization hits me.  This is an infinite office building with an infinite number of floors.  Every floor represents an alternate universe–an infinity of them.   Every possible universe that I could, or possibly do exist in, is here.   I ponder the implications and head toward a back staircase to explore.  Which way should I go? Up or down?  Where will it bring me?  But a chilling thought hits me just as lift my hand to open the exit door leading to the stairs.  What if I can’t find my way back?  Sure, this specific universe that I currently exist in must reside somewhere within an infinity of universes.   But by definition, if I explore starting from this one, there will always be a finite number behind me and an infinite number ahead of me.  I would likely never find my way back within my lifetime, or perhaps even an infinite number of lifetimes.  I lower my hand, go back to my office,  and wake up.

The dream is reminiscent of David Hilbert’s concept of the Infinity Hotel, an explanation of which is in the entertaining short video below.  Strangely enough, I first heard of this idea two weeks after having the Infinite Office Building dream, when I read about it in detail in David Deutsch‘s The Beginning of Infinity.  In any case, the conclusion I reached from my hesitance to explore, was a realization that maybe it really doesn’t matter how many potential or actual universes there are if we are only conscious in one.  Or one at a time.  Or does it?  I’ll discuss these enigmas in my next two Millennium Conjectures, after a finite number of intervening posts.   [Video credit: The Open University]

Comments

  1. cool

  2. love this.

  3. Thanks, though the dream kind of weirded me out.

  4. I want to comment on the intensity of this post, but I am not sure that I’m smart enough, honestly! The idea of the infinite hotel fascinates me on many levels, but I am feeling really inadequate. My dreams are usually about things like cookies.
    I’m going to send this to my sons, though; they love this stuff!

  5. If I were able to explore alternate universes, I wouldn’t be able to say no to that possibility, no matter the cost

  6. Cool! The capacity of the abstract mind fo dream never ceases to amaze me. An inner world that is perhaps more wonderful than the everyday one we know.

    Apropos infinity…strictly speaking, if there were an infinite number of parallel universes, representing every possible permutation of the existence we perceive, then not only would every permutation exist – it would, itself, exist an infinite number of times.

    I have friends who are mathematicians (one of whom has just published a new theory of probability at Cambridge) but I try not to think too much about that sort of stuff myself, in case my mind explodes…

  7. I’m firmly in the it-doesn’t-matter court. Like the sound of a tree falling in the woods, who cares whether it makes a sound? Why worry about things that we can’t prove and couldn’t change even if we could?

    Oh, and I speak fluent Gibberish, too. That should be capitalized, right?

  8. Interesting concepts you have here,- and quite possible knowing our rational thinking can work with a few evidences and project into multiple ways. Our physical reality works with an abstract spiritual dimension. So death is a switch where our physical reality is the shadow to our ‘spiritual’ bodies, a theological concept mentioned by St. Paul. So many parallel worlds but on one physical reality that is the present world. If we lose in this one world everything else is mere figment of imagination.

  9. Reminds me of Sheldon talking to Leonard and saying, ”Just imagine, somewhere among the infinite number of universes is a Sheldon that doesn’t believe in an infinite number of universes.”
    Or something like that…..;)

  10. I often visit the alternate universe when I have the time and extra money for cab fare. They serve great knishes there. One word of advice. Bring a change of underwear.

    • It sounds like you have been reading Douglas Adams and/or Woody Allen. Or maybe me…

      • Yes, I’ve read two and a half of them. I’m currently reading Allen’s ebook, “Mere Anarchy”. I know I shouldn’t say this, due to contractual obligations with The Woodman, (I call him that because our mother’s competed in a blintz competition together) but since you are a fellow writer,(an assumption I’m making without proper vetting, or a good corned beef sandwich), I’ll tell you if you solemnly promise not breathe a word of this to anyone. I’m actually Woody’s ghost writer. My middle name is Konigsberg. I have a military field jacket to prove it. I got it during the filming of Bananas which was actually shot in Central Park, New York, using a lot of rubber tree plants. That’s another well kept family secret. I’ve got to go. Old Nehampkin is calling. Or is it Young Nehampkin? Whatever.

      • Unless that picture of you is not a current one, you clearly wrote for him in an alternate universe or previous lifetime, as Bananas had to be shot years before you were born. Based on your obvious culinary and humor preferences, I’m guessing we might have the same ethnicity, by the way.

  11. You hit it right on the head, my esteemed friend and it hurts worse than the smack in the groin Ernie “Knuckles” Bolshevik gave me when I accidentally stepped on his spleen. You’re right. It’s not a current picture of me. It’s actually Woody in disguise. I’m a bit older than most humans, or circus side show performers would believe. I doubt that we share the same ethnicity, since I got mine at Hammacher Schlemmer’s and they assured me it was one of a kind. Time to go. I have to take a euphonium lesson at Sardis.

  12. I’m so glad you happened by my universe and let me know you ‘liked’ my humble little robin photo so I was led to this fabulous alternate to the finite number of blogs I have wandered through thus far. I’m not sure I want to find my way back to them now, but i will mark this universe with a golden star favorite to be returned to in futures yet undecided.
    Fresh and fun. I left philosophy study behind (like you ever really could once your mind is bent in such a fashion) until I bumped into the zany theories of quantum mechanics and their infinite following conjectures. I don’t spend a lot of time seriously studying it, but I LOVE taking it lightly and being further enlightened by ideas such as yours.
    Quite a dream you had. I unfortunately have suffered similar types of disturbing oddities while simply trying to sleep. Fun and twistingly terrifying all in one giant internal movie. You have my sympathies and admiration. To say I’ve enjoyed my visit to your blog is an understatement indeed!

  13. Reblogged this on Greg Carter and commented:
    pretty cool

  14. Nice post, cool dream!

  15. “real” = yes. real, somehow, somewhat = definitely. but is there ‘substance’? what is substance, anyway? i don’t understand the Higgs boson, or whatever it is, and I had to present a paper, with “all the math” about Heisenberg to my collegiate senior physics class and all i remember is that i also had coffee, tea, and pastries, and was, of course, somewhat popular. but it seems YOU keep most the mental haulways cleared of the cobwebs. i’m already waiting for NEXT LIFE for THAT to happen.

  16. There is always room for more.

  17. I love the dream imagery here but also the fantastic synchronicity of the events following. Maybe there was a reason you were being introduced to this idea!

    • The idea of a “many worlds” multiverse was nothing new to me–I had been contemplating it for real. The infinite office building dream was rather startling though, as that just flew out of left field from my subconscious mind…

  18. Reblogged this on Hallidd's Weblog and commented:
    Fascinating stuff, what!

  19. I know my dreams are real because I’m usually awake when they happen and I document them. I’m also a sleep walker, (actually a sleep skipper, sometimes I frolic.It varies.)

  20. Infinity plus one is a larger number than merely infinity.

  21. Similarly, this moment, being one of an infinite number of them in eternity, means you are immortal. Or, at least, I am. I’m not sure you are real.

  22. floridaborne says:

    A lot better than the dream I had a few days ago, where an alien was telling me there was an asteroid scheduled to hit Earth in 2017. 🙂

  23. Wow! Interesting stuff, Mark. Thanks for liking me. I’m now following you and can’t wait to read more.

  24. Love it! String theory and theories in quantum physic fascinate me! There is so much beauty in the Universe. Abraham was shown the planets, orbits, seasons and mysteries of The Universe. I like to think of God as the Ultimate scientist, chemist and physicist.

  25. Ps I adore your site! Finally intelligence. I just got off the CNN forums where I’m sorry to say bigotry and ignorance are compounded fresh daily. Lol

  26. If my dreams were real, I’d be in big trouble in the weirdness category.

  27. Many replies here … people like to dream away of all these possibilities. But they hardly investigate the possibilities in this life right here and right now. Holding on to the small universe of their everyday tread.
    Great Post !!!

Trackbacks

  1. […] when preparing this post, on March 23 and checking this paragraph again – the notification on Mark’s latest masterpiece is delivered to my inbox, about his dream of working in an infinite office building with an […]

  2. […] I said in Quantum Weirdness 106 that I was done with this series for now.  There are two possibilities here.  Either my […]

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