Parallel Universes

The Universe
Season 3
12 episodes
See below for purchasing options
DVD & Blu-ray
"The Universe" episode no. 34 (season 3)
  • written and directed by Andy Papadopoulos
  • edited by Kevin Browne and Motoshi Wakabayashi
  • science consultant Alex Filippenko

  • narrated by Erik Thompson
  • Main Title Theme and Original Music by Eric Amdahl
  • Flight 33 Productions, (c) 2008 A & E TV Networks
  • 1 documentary @ 44 minutes

Data Capsule Review

by Martin Izsak


This episode takes its time to go over the "4 levels" of alternate universe types, although graphic headings in the style of the "Wildest Weather in the Cosmos" or "7 Wonders of the Solar System" episodes probably would have helped quite nicely. Personally, I think the interviews on the short featurette "E-Space - Fact or Fiction?" on the DVD for "Full Circle" covered the topic and the four levels with greater clarity, although after having seen that as a "primer", the extra detail in this episode of "The Universe" allows us to take some concepts further and see what's behind them.

Support for Level 1 universes comes in part from detail of the shape of our universe as discovered by the WMAP probe, (Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe), although after seeing this several times, I still have no idea how it obtains the angular information necessary for its triangular calculations.

The episode more deeply explores applications of 11 Dimensional String-theory and Membrane-theory (M-theory) in spawning new bubble universes, and sees Alex Filippenko kayaking on an ocean surface that represents a membrane. Lots of good stuff here, but it makes you feel like there's a lot more detail that the episode won't have time to cover. Interesting additional material would be Dr. Bruce Lipton's lectures. His material on the biological similarities between skin and the brain, coupled with biochemical mechanisms for intelligence, awareness, and choice, make a VERY interesting comparison with interaction between universes and membranes.

My favourite bits predictably are those concerning the quantum physics behind Level 3 alternate history universes, which are easily the most likely to have copies of our solar system and all of us. I'm not sure why this idea was first introduced during the Level 1 segments, but thankfully it is expanded on quite nicely for the Level 3 segments where it properly belongs.

Joe Lykken:
"So, every historical event actually happened in every possible way in some branch of this ever-splitting many-worlds universe."

Michio Kaku:
"The universe, at one point, was actually smaller than an electron. If that's true and if electrons are described by being many places at the same time in parallel states, this means that the universe also exists in parallel states. You inevitably get parallel universes."

Only brief mention is made of the random physics of fourth level universes. The focus shifts to Fermi Laboratories, where Joe Lykken goes over the details of the experiments underway to hopefully prove the existence of these other universes.

The last segment here touches on the Einstein-Rosen wormhole bridge, and postulates the possibility of travel to these other universes - basically presenting the familiar premise of the TV series "Sliders" from a scientific point of view and giving meaning to a lot of the phrases often heard there. I'd bet Michio Kaku is a fan of that show (as he has been of Doctor Who).



from the disc sleeve:

Parallel Universes:
Previously considered the stuff of science fiction, some of today's leading physicists are uncovering evidence showing what they believe are universes other than our own. Do these higher dimensions exist, and if so, how will our lives, planet and science change upon their discovery?

Take this description with a grain of salt though, because the episode doesn't seem to examine social impact with any depth (personally, I don't see how such a discovery will change anything, because really, how many of us in our day-to-day lives are invested in there NOT being other universes out there somewhere? ...Maybe only a few scientists with their heads buried in institutionalized thinking. The rest of us will carry on as usual and be fine.)


Chapter List:

  1. Introduction
  2. Multiple Universes
  3. Cosmic Bubbles
  4. Other Dimensions
  5. Evidence
  6. Travel Between Universes


Participants include:

Michio Kaku

Theoretical Physicist
City University of New York

Author of "Parallel Worlds",
"Physics of the Impossible"

Alex Filippenko

Astronomer, supernova hunter
University of California, Berkeley

regular science consultant to
"The Universe" series.

Clifford Johnson

University of Southern California

Max Tegmark

Associate Professor of Physics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Joe Lykken

Fermilab, where particle collider experiments may prove the existence of other universes scientifically.

Burt Ovrut

University of Pennsylvania



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The Universe
Season 3 Box Set
12 episodes
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Read the data capsule review for another episode: "Alien Faces"



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