501 Facts from a Neighbouring Reality

Did I make up the fact about carrots? Yes, but we all suspect that it might be true because stranger things have been true and we read about them in the news. Let’s just all sit down next to the small, intelligent, curious child with a fresh glass of milk and ponder why the Earth has such abundant deposits of strange and an impressive capacity to spawn new events which tend towards the stranger end of the reality spectrum.

Numbers. Numbers explain a lot of stuff when they get big enough, including the Eurovision Song Contest and almost every TV commercial in Japan. If, for example, you were to leave three people in an empty room with a carrot, it is very unlikely that one of them will get the carrot stuck up their nose. Increase the group to thirty people and it is still unlikely, even if some of the people are Japanese. However give three million people a carrot each and we could confidently wager body parts that a few of them will get it stuck up their nose. Give three billion people a carrot each and multitudes will manage to lose an eye with their carrot.

Three trillion people with a carrot each is just too hideous to comprehend.

The Earth is awash with big numbers. It abounds in variety, sustaining innumerable species of life, including well over seven billion people. Of that huge number of people, a very large proportion of them are, if we’re honest with ourselves, strange. The Earth itself is rather large and ancient, and hangs from nothing in a universe which is either infinite or well on its way to getting there, so the numbers describing the Earth’s size and age are also quite big.

Take enough strange people and leave them for a long time on a big enough planet with enough assorted vegetables and you can confidently expect the emergence of strange. At any instant, somewhere on Earth, something strange probably just happened and the matter, energy and ethereal essence of reality at that location solidified into a tangible fact, all packaged and ready for us to scratch our heads at when we come across it in the news.

If something strange just so happens not to have just happened, it will soon, and not necessarily in Japan. In the meantime, there are endless reserves of strange from the Earth’s history to keep us going.

Now here’s the intriguing bit, so join me in another sip of milk. These big numbers become much, much bigger if we allow ourselves to contemplate the deliciously indulgent theory that our Universe, and all the various giblets in it, are actually an infinitesimal slice of the Multiverse: the grand total of all the infinite realities parallel to our own, all the infinite realities perpendicular to our own, and all the infinite realities which diverge from our own at what some might consider an irresponsible and reckless angle.

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