And yet these two kinds of multiverses have much in common. We can visit either sort only in our mind’s eye. Try as you might to reach another bubble universe in your starship, the intervening space would expand faster than you could possibly cross it; bubbles are thus cut off from one another. Likewise, we are by our very nature blind to other universes in the quantum multiverse. These other worlds, though real, remain forever out of view.
Moreover, although the quantum multiverse was not developed for cosmology, it is peculiarly well suited to it. In conventional quantum mechanics—the Copenhagen view, embraced by Niels Bohr and his collaborators—one has to distinguish between the observer and the thing being observed. That’s fine for standard laboratory physics. The observer is you, and the experiment is the thing you’re observing. But what if the object under investigation is the entire universe? You can’t get “outside” the universe in order to measure it. The many-worlds interpretation makes no such artificial distinctions.
In 1995, a wounded 35-year-old woman named Anat Ben-Tov gave an interview from her hospital room in Tel Aviv. She had just survived her second bus bombing in less than a year. “I have no luck, or I have all the luck,” she told reporters. “I’m not sure which it is.”
The news story caught the eyes of Norwegian psychologist Karl Halvor Teigen, now an emeritus professor at the University of Oslo. He had been combing through newspapers to glean insights into what people consider lucky and unlucky. Over the following years, he and other psychologists, along with economists and statisticians, would come to understand that while people often think of luck as random chance or a supernatural force, it is better described as subjective interpretation.
“Everyone wants to feel important,” says Israel Morales, co-owner of Kachka restaurant in Portland, Oregon. “Every restaurateur would like to treat everyone the same way — and it looks good on paper to say that we do — but it’s not really the case.” Though restaurants aim to give everyone good service, regulars, big spenders, and friends of the staff often get special treatment in the form of a better table, free cocktails at the bar, or maybe even a few surprise courses courtesy of the chef.
And the best restaurants make their VIPs feel important without ever letting their other guests know that they’re second tier: Preparing for VIPs is a quiet dance that happens largely behind the scenes.
The great power of utopias is to disrupt our surrender to orthodoxy, freeing us to understand the status quo as contingent, not predetermined, as changeable, not inevitable. And by smuggling utopia home, Defoe unsettles our notion of the totality of state power, the power to which his utopias are opposed.
Perhaps the seeds of utopia are within us already. Drawing on Ernst Bloch, Ruth Levitas argues, “The essential element in utopia is … desire — the desire for a better way of being.” By this light, utopia becomes only natural human longing. What we need these days is a new literature to express this longing and give it shape and detail. All the better if it can show us alternatives close at hand.
This is a novel with broad sweep, accomplished with commendable economy and humor, in a sinewy, compact prose that has the grace and power of a gifted athlete. And it pulses with affection for Mumbai itself; the effortless sociological dissection of that exasperating city recalls Katherine Boo’s “Behind the Beautiful Forevers.”
That was the name of the course. Stop procrastinating and start your own food business.
Ok! I will! I thought, and I might have even punched the air, but no jumping
I hadn’t realised that was what I was doing but who was I to argue with this guy. This guy in his plaid shirt with his rugged beard holding a wooden crate on his shoulder like he knew that was exactly what I had been doing and now he was going to show me how to stop it and start doing something. And not just anything but a food business! Who’d have thought!