Saturday, November 26, 2005

Parallel Universes

As I mentioned in my previous post, I wasn't looking forward to my trip across the country, due to the likely prospect of having to sit behind someone who insists on tilting the seat all the way back. Well, I just got back home and I'm happy to report that during all four of my flights in the past week, not one person in front of me had the seat tilted back.

I made a prediction about this the week before, and I was as wrong as wrong can be. I'm happy to admit it, but I'm also a little confused. On all four flights combined, I think I saw maybe three or four people who didn't keep their seat backs in the locked upright position, which seems particularly strange when you consider that one flight was late at night and the other was early in the morning -- two times during which people are inclined (no pun intended) to want to get some sleep.

I have no explanation for this. As you read this, you may be searching for an explanation as well. Perhaps you're thinking that each time the plane took off, it entered a parallel universe -- a better universe in which people leave their seat backs upright. Well, I appreciate your enthusiasm for the bizarre and unlikely, but you're probably wrong. There has to be a more reasonable explanation.

I don't have any evidence either way, of course -- all I have is the belief that if we had entered a parallel universe, I would have found out about it somehow. That sort of thing usually doesn't happen without a lot of people noticing it.

The other thing worth noting was that each of the four flights took off on time and landed on time. I have no explanation for that either, but it seems pretty unusual as well. One possible explanation is that I entered the parallel universe sometime before the first flight departed and left it sometime after the last flight landed. Or perhaps I haven't yet returned to the "normal" universe, and maybe I'll be stuck in the parallel one forever.

I'm not even sure what it means to be in a parallel universe, or if the concept of parallelism is even defined for universes. I understand the notion of parallel lines, and even parallel planes, but can four-dimensional objects be parallel? I don't know. If I were a mathematician I'm sure I'd know all about such things, but I'm not, so I can only speculate. Of course, the larger question is, given that the universe is by definition all-inclusive, can there even be more than one universe?

I'll let the philosophers and physicists grapple with that one, if they care to. For now, I'm happy just knowing that when you get on a plane, it can depart on time, and it can arrive on time, and you can spend the entire flight without having to sit behind some inconsiderate moron who insists on tilting the seat all the way back.