This evening I attended a small social gathering at my sister’s house. I was surprised to find that the five year old daughter of one of one of my sister’s friends knew that a Googol is 10100, and that she was wondering how long it would take to count up to a Googol. I told her it would take way too long, so she suggested maybe counting by hundreds or thousands to speed things up.
I then suggested it might work better if she counted by double each time — one, then two, then four, and so on. She quickly saw the logic of this and started working it out. “Let’s see,” she said, “one, then two, then four, then eight, then sixteen, then …” she thought a moment, “thirty two!”
Soon the topic shifted to parallel universes. I mentioned having read recently that scientists think there might be an infinite number of parallel universes, so it’s possible that we exist in many different worlds, only we could be different versions of ourselves in each one.
After thinking about this for a bit, she pointed out that there might be a universe where there are still dinosaurs. “Yes,” I said sadly, “but we could never see them, because you can’t get from one universe to another.”
“But maybe,” she said, “we could invent robots that could travel between worlds. We could send them to take pictures of the dinosaurs for us.” I was doubtful, but I had to admit it was an intriguing thought.
Our conversation then broadened. Since parallel universes can contain anything, we conjectured, there could be universes where dragons are real. Then we realized that there might be a universe where dragons are having this very conversation. “Imagine,” we wondered, “one dragon talking to another dragon about some other universe where people are real, and not just imaginary creatures.” We both thought this was very funny.
It was one of the more interesting conversations I’ve had recently.