Testing the Many-Worlds Interpretation
Tipler says its doable:
The many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics holds that before a measurement is made, identical copies of the observer exist in parallel universes and that all possible results of a measurement actually take place in these universes.
Until now there has been no way to distinguish between this and the Born interpretation. This holds that each outcome of a measurement has a specific probability and that, while an ensemble of measurements will match that distribution, there is no way to determine the outcome of specific measurement.
Now Frank Tipler, a physicist at Tulane University in New Orleans says he has hit upon a way in which these interpretations must produce different experimental results.
His idea is to measure how quickly individual photons hitting a screen build into a pattern. According to the many worlds interpretation, this pattern should build more quickly, says Tipler.
And he points out that an experiment to test this idea would be easy to perform. Simply send photons through a double slit, onto a screen and measure where each one hits. Once the experiment is over, a simple mathematical test of the data tells you how quickly the pattern formed.
The many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics asserts that everything that could ever happen has happened and is happening and will happen across a vast -- possibly infinite -- number of parallel universes. If this idea were to be confirmed, it would arguably be the greatest scientific discovery of all time, even though it wouldn't have any practical consequences. That is, we will continue to experience the world the same way whether we believe it's the one and only world or we know that it is one of many.
Still, from a philosophical standpoint, it would be a pretty signfifcant development. It's been suggested that we might one day prove the existence of parallel universes using qunatum computers or via elaborate experiments using the Large Hadron Collider. How interesting if it can be proved by simply performing measurements on an experiment that's been around for years.