NPR

Strange Parallels: Alternative Histories In Physics And Culture

Ideas of parallel universes and alternative histories, once confined to mere rumination about lost opportunities and fictional scenarios, are now a part of science, says guest writer Paul Halpern.
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Certain pivotal events in history seem to open up a schism in time, separating what really happened from countless other "what ifs."

World War II, with its succession of controversial decisions, included many such pivotal moments, culminating in President Truman's order to launch atomic bombs on Japan. Physicists were sharply divided about that choice: Some such as Albert Einstein regretted the bomb's development — given that the Germans, as it turned out, had made little progress — and others, such as John Wheeler, one of its many developers in the Manhattan Project, argued that it should have been built and launched earlier to end the war sooner and save millions

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