How the Upside Down from "Stranger Things" Could Actually Exist

Thursday, 11 August 2016 - 1:59PM
Physics
Thursday, 11 August 2016 - 1:59PM
How the Upside Down from "Stranger Things" Could Actually Exist

Spoilers for Stranger Things season 1 follow!


If you've watched the first season of Stranger Things (and if not, what are you waiting for?), then you've probably wondered what exactly the "Upside Down" could be, and/or whether you could ever run into a Demogorgon in your daily travels. In the latest episode of Because Science, Nerdist's Kyle Hill breaks down an insane, but scientifically plausible theory that could allow the Upside Down to exist—and interact with our world—in real life.


In the show itself, several explanations for the Upside Down are alluded to, primarily that it's another dimension or a parallel universe. But in the classical explanations of both phenomena, neither a fifth dimension or parallel universe would interact with our universe at all, let alone start kidnapping little kids from it. And while the science teacher's explanation using a folded piece of paper and a pen looked cool, it was actually an explanation of a wormhole, which doesn't come into play at all in the series. 

So Hill proposes a "crazy" theory, which is essentially a variation of the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum physics. He says that there are scientists who believe that underneath the reality we know, there is a "quantum subspace," which is composed solely of quantum interactions. Under this theory, all of the physical reality we can observe has sprung from that quantum subspace.

Opening quote
"Imagine this quantum fabric as an actual fabric. Throw a bedsheet on your bed, and what does it look like? There are random scrunches and ruffles in it. We know that they're made from the fabric, but to our eyes it looks like they're structures, like something is emerging from that fabric. 

What if everything that we can see on a macroscopic scale is just this, a ruffle in the quantum fabric where data comes together randomly to make up everything? In this view, space and time and even physical laws could just be random emergent properties from the infinite quantum tapestry of reality."
Closing quote

According to this interpretation of reality, there aren't exactly "parallel universes," because if they were parallel, they wouldn't interact with each other. Instead, there are multiple quantum realities, or "ruffles" in quantum subspace, which can be linked through entanglement. This explains why, in Stranger Things, actions in one world could affect the other world—like Will making the Christmas lights blink—and how Eleven was able to psychically tap into the Upside Down. 

Opening quote
"In this interpretation of reality, there could be two parallel realities, or ruffles in the quantum fabric that are linked in a quantum way through entanglement. One might be very much like our own, and the other might be dark and full of Demogorgons.
Closing quote

This theory is broadly similar to the Many Interacting Worlds theory that was proposed by researchers at Griffiths University back in 2014. Where the standard Many Worlds interpretation claims that every observation of a quantum event causes a "branching," or a different universe for every possible outcome, the MIW theory claims that there is a fixed, though enormous, number of realities that spring from the same quantum space and then evolve separately. And in this theory all of the quantum "weirdness" we observe is actually the result of interaction between different realities.

Opening quote
"Our 'many-interacting-worlds' approach hinges on the assumption that interactions between deterministically evolving worlds cause all quantum effects. Each world is simply the position of particles in three-dimensional space, and each would evolve according to Newton's laws if there were no interworld interactions."
Closing quote

Crazily enough, this theory would allow for pretty much all of the events of Stranger Things (although beings from other realities hopefully don't look like Demogorgons). If two realities were entangled enough, they could start to overlap, and we might even be able to get there, or be snatched from our own world into another.

Opening quote
"If this theory is true, then you could have a parallel reality. And if that is possible, then you could, at least theoretically, have Stranger Things' 'Upside Down' somewhere."
Closing quote
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