Now I know I can’t be the only person anxiously awaiting Season 3 of Stranger Things on Netflix. The idea of alternate dimensions and the existence of a multiverse has kept me up many a night.
Anyone who knows me knows I love a good conspiracy theory, especially when it has to do with space, aliens or metaphysics. First and foremost, a HUGE shout-out to Kendall and Josh who host Mile Higher podcast. They encourage outside of the box thinking with all of their content. Check them out every Monday!
Since the uncovering of the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program due to two very strange and well-documented encounters with strange aircraft operating in U.S. airspace, the Pentagon has been under the microscope of watchful citizens. Now, new documents are coming to light that show the Department of Defense’s own spy agency was also interested in subjects that border on science fiction and the even paranormal, including warp drive, extra-dimensional manipulation, dark energy, and other highly exotic forms of space travel.
This is Steven Aftergood. He’s the director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy. He essentially made the request for this information to be released as the projects were originally classified and sent to congress last year. Since then, the declassified papers have emerged revealing some very interesting ways the US government spent 22 million dollars. AATIP, that effort, and its funding, sprang from Nevada Senator Harry Reid’s interest in the topic, along with that of a Defense Intelligence Agency official. The program, which eventually cost $22 million and ran roughly between 2008 and 2012, began after Bigelow, a friend of Reid and fellow conspiracist, won the contract, apparently to investigate UFO sightings, along with pretty much everything else that goes along with the topic for better or worse, on behalf of the military. A team of nearly 50 scientists, analysts, and investigators were assembled to work on the program, which was originally and very cryptically dubbed the Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Applications (AAWSA) Program.
Now, no specifics about these programs have been released by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), only their names, and only in response to the aforementioned freedom of information request. Tragically, only the names of these programs were released. As a total science fiction geek though, just the titles themselves have me in a frenzy.
Here are some concepts I was most excited to see:
Stable wormholes to travel to other parts of space
This project was headed by Eric Davis of EarthTech International Inc, a firm based in Austin, Texas and looked at the possibility of using wormholes for travel. Wormholes are theoretical tunnels through the fabric of space-time that could potentially allow rapid travel between widely separated points — from one galaxy to another, for example, as depicted in Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar”. Wormholes are possible according to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, however renowned astrophysicist Kip Thorne of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, who served as an adviser and executive producer on “Interstellar,” thinks that such won’t ever happen. Part of this is due to a wormhole’s instability. If you don’t have something threading through them to hold them open — the walls will basically collapse so fast that nothing can go through them. Holding wormholes open would require the insertion of something that anti-gravitates — something like, negative energy. Negative energy has been created in the lab via quantum effects, Thorne said: One region of space borrows energy from another region that didn’t have any to begin with, creating a deficit. Furthermore, traversable wormholes — if they can exist at all — almost certainly cannot occur naturally, Thorne added. That is, they must be created by an advanced civilization. Now, just because the program existed doesn’t mean that we’ve reached the point where Rick and Morty will be an everyday thing. The project could have majorly failed. All I know is, I’m tired of humanity not even being on the Kardashev scale. If we have the opportunity to level up, we should.
So no, the world doesn’t have a full on “Harry Potter”-like invisibility cloak just yet, but various research teams around the world have been making progress in figuring out how to build one. Just last year, scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and the University of California, Berkeley, devised a microscopic cloak that can conform to the shape of an object and conceal it from visible light. Most studies on invisibility cloaks use metamaterials and optics to achieve cloaking. But some experts, including optical physicist Joseph Choi, suggest that may be the wrong approach. Thinking digitally, they argue, could lead to a real-life invisibility cloak more quickly. Choi, who was a member of the research team at the University of Rochester that created the invisibility lens, said they now have created a digital cloak. These cloaks basically measure space as pixels and, by doing so, it collects and emits light in a way to make whatever it is cloaking appear invisible to the human eye. “We think our digital cloaks can become widespread in 10 years or so,” Choi said. “It will likely be an ‘active’ cloak that requires power to run it, rather than ‘passive’ cloaks that do not require power. This would allow someone inside the cloak to see the outside while not being seen from the outside. So to see so many resources put into investigating such, I’m going to keep an eye on this for the rest of the year.
Dark Energy, and the Manipulation of Extra Dimensions
One big question with this theory is: are we the only universe out there? With our current technology, we are limited to observations within this universe because the universe is curved and we are inside the fishbowl, unable to see the outside of it (if there is an outside.) There are at least five theories why a multiverse is possible, as a 2012 Space.com article explained:
1. Infinite universes. We don’t know what the shape of space-time is exactly. One prominent theory is that it is flat and goes on forever. This would present the possibility of many universes being out there. But with that topic in mind, it’s possible that universes can start repeating themselves. That’s because particles can only be put together in so many ways.
2. Bubble universes. Another theory for multiple universes comes from “eternal inflation.” Based on research from Tufts University cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin, when looking at space-time as a whole, some areas of space stop inflating like the Big Bang inflated our own universe. Others, however, will keep getting larger. So if we picture our own universe as a bubble, it is sitting in a network of bubble universes of space. What’s interesting about this theory is the other universes could have very different laws of physics than our own, since they are not linked.
3. Daughter universes. Or perhaps multiple universes can follow the theory of quantum mechanics (how subatomic particles behave), as part of the “daughter universe” theory. If you follow the laws of probability, it suggests that for every outcome that could come from one of your decisions, there would be a range of universes — each of which saw one outcome come to be. So in one universe, you took that job to China. In another, perhaps you were on your way and your plane landed somewhere different, and you decided to stay. And so on.
4. Mathematical universes. Another possible avenue is exploring mathematical universes, which, simply put, explain that the structure of mathematics may change depending in which universe you reside. “A mathematical structure is something that you can describe in a way that’s completely independent of human baggage,” said theory-proposer Max Tegmark of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as quoted in the 2012 article. “I really believe that there is this universe out there that can exist independently of me that would continue to exist even if there were no humans.”
5. Parallel universes. And last but not least as the idea of parallel universes. Going back to the idea that space-time is flat, the number of possible particle configurations in multiple universes would be limited to 10^10^122 distinct possibilities, to be exact. So, with an infinite number of cosmic patches, the particle arrangements within them must repeat — infinitely many times over. This means there are infinitely many “parallel universes”: cosmic patches exactly the same as ours (containing someone exactly like you), as well as patches that differ by just one particle’s position, patches that differ by two particles’ positions, and so on down to patches that are totally different from ours.
Famously, physicist’s Stephen Hawking’s last paper before his death also dealt with the multiverse. The paper was published in May 2018, just a few months after Hawking’s demise. About the theory, he told Cambridge University in an interview published in The Washington Post, “We are not down to a single, unique universe, but our findings imply a significant reduction of the multiverse to a much smaller range of possible universes.”
Not everyone agrees with the parallel universe theory, however. A 2015 article on Medium by astrophysicist Ethan Siegal agreed that space-time could go on forever in theory, but said that there are some limitations with that idea. The key problem is the universe is just under 14 billion years old. So our universe’s age itself is obviously not infinite, but a finite amount. This would (simply put) limit the number of possibilities for particles to rearrange themselves, and sadly make it less possible that your alternate self did get on that plane after all to see China. Also, the expansion at the beginning of the universe took place exponentially because there was so much “energy inherent to space itself,” he said. But over time, that inflation obviously slowed — those particles of matter created at the Big Bang are not continuing to expand, he pointed out. Among his conclusions: that means that multiverses would have different rates of inflation and different times (longer or shorter) for inflation. This decreases the possibilities of universes similar to our own.
If nothing else, the existence of these studies supports the perception that this program went far beyond just trying to interpret and document eye-witness accounts of UFOs and trying to identify what was buzzing around in earth’s atmosphere. And they are bound to leave just about anyone wondering if this is what has been released, imagine what else exists that hasn’t, whether out of fear of embarrassment or risk to national security. I’m dying to know.
Until next time earthlings,