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The Microanthropic Principle

Consider a point in the Metaverse that is inside your brain at a particular time. Isolate a time segment around the time you picked, long enough for the brain to have a thought or two. Extend the neighborhood in space, large enough to encompass all particles that can reach your brain within the selected time segment. Since the fastest particles travel with the speed of light, this neighborhood will be pretty large. For instance, for a time segment of one second, the spatial boundary of the neighborhood would have to extend beyond the orbit of the Moon. If your brain (through your eyes) looks at the Moon during this particular second, it will be able to see the photons that left the Moon at the beginning of the segment.

You need to track these photons, because your observations must be in agreement with your memory. Your environment in this case plays the role of external memory. For instance, you can write something down and immediately read it. The information about what's written travels to your eyes in the form of photons. At the same time, your memory still has the record of what you've written. What you read from the piece of paper better be the same as what you remember writing there.

Similarly, extend the neighborhood in all other dimensions of the Metaverse to encompass parts of all those parallel universes that may have impact on the state of your brain during that one second. Why so? Because the movements of particles inside and outside of your body depend on all these Feynman diagrams with all their virtual particles that converge on your brain.

The neighborhood thus defined is fully autonomous as far as your brain is concerned. No events outside of it may influence what you perceive inside it. Now compare this with our considerations about teleporters. Your brain inside this neighborhood could have just been teleported there. No matter what happened in the past, or what will happen in the future, this brain will have the consciousness of being there and then, but also having all the memories of the past. It will experience time, even if there is no time outside of the neighborhood.

If you start shrinking such a neighborhood, you'll divide it into shorter and shorter moments with less and less time to formulate thoughts in your brain. But the awareness is there, even between thoughts. It's less and less defined and it disappears completely in the limit of a single-point neighborhood. As if by some extension of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, when you try to analyze the mind too closely, it becomes less and less perceptible.

You can fill the whole Metaverse with such (overlapping) islands of consciousness in any way you want and each of them will create its own illusion of time flow. It will believe that its memories correspond to the actual past and it will believe that its existence will continue into some foreseeable future.

The laws of physics help us create this illusion. They constrain the structure of the Metaverse in such a way that there is some kind of continuity from neighborhood to neighborhood. After all, our body doesn't disintegrate after leaving a pre-defined neighborhood and our memories, indeed, are traces of some past events. The trick is that in the Metaverse our memories are created not by one past, but infinitely many. Our memory of an electron striking the scintillating screen in the two-slot experiment is not created by one single path the electron took, but rather by a multitude of possible paths, some passing through one slot, some passing through the other. All these paths exist in the Metaverse.

This is the way we can reconcile our perception of time with the idea of a static, preordained Metaverse. But to be completely in sync with Quantum Field Theory, we have to allow for "branching" both forward and backward. There are many ways in which our present can evolve into the future and all these ways are realized in the Metaverse. Similarly there are many ways through which a particular present could have evolved from the past. We always have many futures and many pasts.

But why do we perceive our world as classical? We see particles and not wave functions, we measure masses of these particles and we don't notice any wild variations common in virtual particles. This is where the Microanthropic principle comes to the rescue.

Its predecessor, the anthropic principle, which is used mostly in Cosmology, states that our universe is what it is, with all the fundamental constants fine tuned to allow the formation of galaxies, stars, planets and life, because in any other parallel universe we have no chance to exist. In other words, conscious observation is only possible in those universes that support the existence of conscious minds. A universe that collapses shortly after the Big Bang is possible, and it may even exist, but there is nobody to study it.

The new Microanthropic principle extends this notion: You are aware of the classical world, because your mind can exist only in classical neighborhoods of the Metaverse. Your brain constantly branches into all possible quantum futures filled with virtual particles and other oddities, but it can physically exist and support conscious mind only in a small fraction of those branches, the ones that are (very nearly) classical. When you remove constraints on the masses of particles—as it happens in the non-classical, virtual worlds—you get much less order and predictability, presumably too little to support life, not to mention a conscious mind.

Technically, classical paths can be defined using the minimal-action principle. For the vast majority (maybe even all) physical systems one can define a functional called the action, such that classical paths are the minima of the action. Unlike in classical physics, in QFT the system is not forced to evolve along minimal paths; it can stray from them into virtual territory. These non-minimal paths generate quantum corrections to the classical theory, which deals only with minimal paths. So from the point of the Metaverse, classical neighborhoods cluster around the valleys (minima) of the action.

Next ImageNext: The Arrow of Time.