Hello science fiction fans and “Fringe” fans!
Season 3 of “Fringe” has depicted the series characters in two slightly different universes. In this analysis I will address what a parallel universe is, how do the characters get to this alternate reality, and the differences in the two worlds within the television series Fringe.
The focus of this analysis is what is a parallel universe and do they actually exist in the real world as well as in the fictional world of Fringe?
The theory of parallel universes states that every outcome that can take place does take place, and that each different outcome occurs in a different parallel universe. Think of yourself at an intersection in the road. If you turn right and go in that direction, you meet your future husband and you have a family together. If you turn left, you never meet your future husband but instead go on to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
When we apply the parallel universe theory that every outcome that can happen does happen, then you not only turned right and met your future husband but you also turned left and won the Nobel Peace Prize. Therefore, for every decision you make in the course of the day several scenarios are happening in parallel universes.
In the season three episode ‘6995 kHz’ we observe that BOlivia (Anna Torv) has infiltrated ‘our side’ and has seduced Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) much to the protest of ‘our’ Olivia Fringe fans. Peter does not seem to know the difference (yet). How can that be?
Let us now take a retrospective look at the Fringe television for reference on how the series writers have implemented the science and some of our favorite characters, “The Observers” who are no doubt mixed up in these parallel universe’s somehow!
At the end of Fringe season one in the episode “The Road Not Taken” we began to realize where the writers were taking us. They were taking us to a parallel universe. In this episode Olivia began seeing things and Walter offered the explanation that she may be seeing an alternate reality.
In the final episode of season 1 “There’s More Than One of Everything” Walter is seen standing at a grave. Next, Walter and the Observer are standing on a beach. The Observer is holding a coin and asked Walter if he recognized it. The Observer goes on to explain that it’s from a different place and said “There is more than one of everything”.
When Walter finds the beach house and inside finds the same coin in a box, he is then seen placing the coin on the tombstone that he was at earlier in the episode. On the tombstone is the name Peter Bishop 1978-1985. It was at this point that everyone realized Peter Bishop was not of this universe but another universe.
At the end of the final episode of season one Olivia receives a call from Nina Sharp after confronting her about the details. She is asked to meet Nina at a hotel restaurant in Manhattan. However, Nina does not show.
As Olivia gets on the elevator to leave, the elevator stops at a floor she is met at the door by a woman and is then escorted to a room where she sees a newspaper about the Obama family that does not reconcile with her universe. William Bell then introduces himself. Olivia walks over to the window and looked out. She realizes she was looking out from one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center!
This was the pivotal moment in the series showing us that the writers not only intended to talk about parallel universes, but they intended to take us to the parallel universe that has intersected with our own. This intersection was caused by Walter’s obsession with the loss of Peter in ‘our universe’. Eventually, this leads to a conflict in Walternate’s universe, and the conflict continues in the Fringe television series.
Let’s now examine the science and research to date by some research leaders in this area. In 2003 Dr. Max Tegmark published a paper titled “Parallel Universes”. He described the 4 types of parallel universes. A level 1 parallel universe assumes that space is infinite and goes on forever. This universe exists in the same space as our universe, but we can not observe it because the light from it has not reached us yet.
Our universe is estimated to be between 12 and 15 billion years old. If you can, imagine traveling the speed of light at 186,000 miles per second or 700 million miles per hour. The level 1 parallel universe is an unfathomable distance away if we have been here 12 to 15 billion years and light traveling at 186,000 miles per second has not yet reached us.
The level 2 parallel universe assumes that chaotic inflation occurred. Chaotic inflation is part of the inflationary model. It simply means all the matter we see in the universe today inflated within a fraction of a second from a single point. The basic properties of space may be different in a level 2 parallel universe, but it is still part of our space. Our universe is in a bubble that is part of a sea of bubbles (universes).
The level 3 parallel universe is the most controversial of the different worlds. This universe lies within the quantum world and according to Dr. Max Tegmark is mathematically the simplest model. Mathematicians have named it the “Hilbert space”. This space is not millions of light years away. It is right in front of us and there are an infinite number of them. The “many worlds” idea was founded by Hugh Everett in 1957. It states that there are an infinite number of universes, and everything that could have happened in our past did happen in our past in another universe. The level 3 parallel universe is the model that Fringe has leveraged in the series.
Quantum mechanics is the theory that explains how particles at the sub-atomic level behave and interact with one another. A prediction of quantum theory is quantum superposition. Superposition states that simultaneously particles can be in multiple places or states at once. We are all made of tiny particles. Therefore, we should also be able to be in multiple places or states at once. Proof of superposition is the “double-slit” experiment. In this experiment, shown in the video below, electrons produce an interference pattern by becoming a wave of potential. When observed the electron behaved as matter instead of a wave.
The level 4 parallel universe is one in which each mathematical structure describes a physical reality. Dr. Max Tegmark, in the video below, said that “the reason that nature is so well described by math is because in a very deep sense it is math.” I have listened to Max’s interviews and read his paper on parallel universes. I have to say that now, as I look at the tree outside my window, I see a tree with algebraic equations for branches. Below is a video interview in which Dr. Tegmark explains the 4 types of parallel universes. He does a wonderful job at putting all of this information in layman’s terms.
After reading and listening to all the information I could find on parallel universes, my next question is can we travel to a parallel universe? As sci-fi fans we have to say yes we can as observed in Fringe, Star Trek and Stargate!
In the Fringe series, we observe that Olivia is able to travel between the two universes because as a child she underwent Cortexiphan trials. Cortexiphan was invented by Dr. William Bell in 1981. He believed that when children are born their minds are “infinitely capable”. He developed the drug to prevent this capability from diminishing over time. According to Walter, the drug enhances people’s abilities of perception.
In season 3 episode 5 “Amber 31422” we see Olivia travel back and forth between the 2 universes. She is put in a sensory deprivation tank and given a set of “psychotropic drugs”. It is the combination of the cortexiphan, psychotropic drugs, and the sensory deprivation tank that allows Olivia to cross over. They have to use the psychotropic drugs on Olivia because she has been made to believe that she is of that universe, and that Olivia never underwent Cortexiphan trials.
However, we have also witnessed that Olivia has been able to cross over without the deprivation tank as used by Walternate in “Amber 31422”. How does she actually accomplish this task? Is it simply a matter of willing herself to do so? Or is there a another factor such as an emotional reaction that releases the Cortexiphan as when Olivia could see the shimmer of Peter being from the alternate universe?
In Fringe we have also observed that the William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) Walter, Walternate (John Noble) have some sort of equipment that allows certain characters like Newton to cross over and stay over on spying missions (that is until his demise). The equipment has never been fully explained and perhaps that is best given the realities of the postulated parallel universes and that after all Fringe is a science fiction series.
Now lets examine what some of the differences that we have observed in the two universes of Fringe? There have been several notable differences. In the final episode of season 1 we saw the Twin Towers still standing.
The New York Post had a story that read JFK was alive with a picture of him in the office, the $20 bill has a picture of Martin Luther King, Jr., dirigibles are still a means of transportation, public flights to the moon, and smallpox vaccine has not been invented or that the FBI headquarters was never built but instead has a place honoring Martin Luther King?
Moreover, could a young Marty McFly grow up to be a ruthless Daniel Graystone? It is all about choices, and I believe the writers are focusing on how choices have affected the characters. The writers have done a great job in developing the characters and showing us what a choice in this universe does to a character in the next.
If you apply the parallel universe theory to the story, then you would get an infinite number of Olivias and they would all be slightly different. However, the writers have chosen to deal with the paradox by only showing us the two universes we have in the series. Which raise the question; are there two Gene the cows?
The discussion of whether or not parallel universes exist is superfluous to the enjoyment of Fringe. The questions about parallel universes will continue to be explored by scientists in “our universe” much to my and hopefully your enjoyment.
Fringe returns every Thursday evening on FOX at 9 PM east and west. If you enjoy the series as much as we at WHR and I do, may I suggest that you tune in to help boost the ratings? Fringe ratings seem to have flagged with the interruption of the World Series. Worse we have observed a disturbing trend for fans of various series including Fringe to illegally download or stream the programs. Please do not do this people because what you are doing is damaging the ability of your favorite shows to survive by promoting revenue generation for the illegal streaming sites at the expense of the producers who work very hard to bring you top quality entertainment.
Failure to support Fringe and other programs by illegally downloading them in our universe’s reality could lead to its demise. This is not to mention that the producers keep an eye on such things and you are damaging your own reputations. I will end with a touch of humor, but illegal downloading is no joke, its a crime and is ethically wrong: In our universe loss of a show because you failed to legally support it could end up forcing us all to cross over to “The Other Side”. Even if Fringe is already in its eleventh season there you should not support or tweet illegal downloading. Thank you!
As always thank you for reading and visiting WormholeRiders News Agency. I will be back with more on the science of Fringe and other series in the future for your enjoyment.
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