Since the predictions of quantum theory have been right in every experiment ever done, many researchers think it is the best guide we have to the nature of reality. Unfortunately, that still leaves room for plenty of ideas about what reality really is!
“Trial CE-475.” My voice rang through the silent lab, making the shiny red apple resting innocuously on the dais tremble. The superposition machine whirred softly as I adjusted the dials on the control panel.
“Still here, Dick? It’s late.”
I glanced surreptitiously at my boss as he approached. Just a few months ago, Harry had been my coworker. My partner. Now, he was CEO of GRIMES- the company we created together. He clapped a meaty hand on my shoulder.
“Just go home already. Sending things- or people- across dimensions just isn't possible.” he said, motioning to the apple. “I know how much it means to you, but...”
“Do you?” I set my eyes firmly on the apple behind the glass, avoiding Harry’s gaze.
“You’ve already done so much for GRIMES. Just take a break.”
“Leave me alone.” I snapped, shrugging his hand off my shoulder.
“Look, Dick, I’m sorry about what happened. Can’t we just be friends again?”
I turned away from him in silence, tight-lipped. He sighed, and I waited for the door to slide shut behind me before resuming fiddling with the controls. It had been over a decade since me and Harry had put our heads together to create GRIMES, the most advanced lab in North America. He had always been the more charasmatic, charming one between the two of us, and somewhere along the line the world pushed me out of the limelight. Harry, of course, had no objections to taking on the role of CEO, even though it was my work, my discovery of superposition that put us on the headlines. The sound of the door sliding open behind me broke me out of my brooding.
“I don’t want to talk, Harry.” I snapped.
“It’s just me, Richard.” I hadn’t heard it in a while, but I would recognize my wife’s voice anywhere.
“You haven’t been home in ages.” Nova said. Her red heels clicked on the ground, white lab coat swishing as she came up behind me, tilting my face to hers. “You look tired. You’re not eating well, either. Please, Richard, come home.”
“I can’t, Nova. This is too important.” I replied, pushing her slender hands away from my face. “Once I get this right... if the Many-World's Interpretation is correct, then every outcome of a possible event occurs in a different branch of reality. Every possible reality has come into existence in one universe or another. Somewhere out there is a world where this company is mine, as it should be."
I knew this was pointless. My wife was well versed in the story of how I’d been cheated out of stardom.
“Somewhere out there exists a version of myself that got what he deserved,” I continue. “I won’t rest until that reality is mine. I need this.”
“What about me?” My wife’s voice was soft.
“I’ll be home eventually. After I make this happen.”
I thought about my son. I swallowed.
“Nobody said this was going to be easy.”
“Constraint. Right.” she murmured. “Well… we’ll be waiting for you. At home.” The door slid shut again. I rested my forehead against the control panel, breathing deeply. I couldn't afford to wait any longer. Turning the dial all the way up, I glided the slider to its max before stepping onto the dais. My ears filled with a loud humming, and the lab's lights started to flash. The lights grew brighter, consuming my field of vision, burning so brightly I could see them with my eyes closed.
My wife and son were waiting for me at home. I felt a pang of guilt as the humming grew impossibly louder, till it faded suddenly into clicking of cameras. But as I opened my eyes to what I knew to be the flashing of paparazzi lights, I reminded myself: this is my world now.