“The Science of Rick and Morty”
In the hit Cartoon Network series “Rick and Morty,” clones duke it out in an infinity of endlessly weird universes. But are the show’s seriously outlandish situations based in any scientific truth?
In the last season alone, the show has toyed with whether it’s possible to delete traumatic memories (kind of), murder someone with a wristwatch-sized laser (nope), target DNA with a nanobot (one day) or wipe out an alien species with a neutrino bomb (yeah, no).
OK, so it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to transform into a pickle by drinking a special serum anytime soon. But one of the show’s most beloved premises — the multiverse — is more probable than you might think, science teacher Matt Brady explains in his book, “The Science of Rick and Morty.”
The idea that undergirds seemingly endless jokes about infinity is actually rooted in modern physics, and the simplest morsel of multiverse theory is digestible even if it has been ages since you took a physics class.
It goes like this: We can observe only what we can see, and we need light to do that. We can see about 46.5 billion light-years in any direction because the observable universe has been expanding since the big bang, a theory that says the cosmos began with a giant explosion. Most scientists agree that there’s still space beyond that. You could consider the area beyond what we can observe to be a separate universe, and the area beyond that universe to be a separate universe, and so on.
The separate universes could expand into infinity in a kind of patchwork quilt that “goes on forever,” Brady writes. “Literally forever: it’s infinite. And if it’s infinite, there are bound to be repeats.”
That concept, first proposed by American theoretical physicist Brian Greene, is called Quilted Multiverse.
Multiverse theory gets only more complicated from there — so complicated, it might make you feel like you’re watching mad scientist Rick Sanchez rant and rave.
“Don’t go feeling like you’re special or anything,” writes Brady, sounding a bit like Sanchez himself. “There’s a good chance you’re just one of an infinite number of yous. And, honestly, some of them are more interesting than this version is.”