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.
This experiment is almost trivial so we should find out pretty quickly which interpretation of quantum mechanics Tipler’s test tells us is right.
Then it boils down to whether you believe his reasoning.
(And not everybody does. When Tipler published his book The Physics of Immortality one reviewer described it as ” a masterpiece of pseudoscience”.)
Let’s hope this paper is received a little more positively than his books.