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I had this discussion about this episode of Community some time ago. I am actually bothered by the fact that since there is a timeline where Abed catch the dice there should not be other timeline. Since there was a canceling action that took place before the completion of the hazardeous mechanism the dice never actually even touched the table. there should only be one timeline : the one where Abed catch the dice.

However, I am feeling like there should be a more formal way to explain this, and also there should be formal ways to explain the coexistence of the seven timeline presented, some meta-physics or philosophical principle may do the trick. (I looked at what determinism said for example but wasn't fully satisfied with what I found)

Can someone bright some light on some timeline theories related to hazard and decision ?

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    I don't think this is quite on topic. You are asking for purely real quantum physics theories instead of asking how it worked in the show. – cde Jun 8 '16 at 8:12
  • That said, it's called the many-worlds theory. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Many-worlds_interpretation similar to the superposition that Schrodinger described (as a joke). Essentially, all possible options exist at the same time. – cde Jun 8 '16 at 8:13
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This is most likely a result of either the Many-Worlds Interpretation, or the Many-Minds interpretation (depending on how the universe splitting happens). I won't go too much in details since it isn't the subject (though very interesting), and you'll find plenty on the Internet.

Quick background: while the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics states that there is a collapse of the Wave function, Hugh Everett stated that all possible quantum events actually happen in different universes. There isn't only one outcome, but all possible outcomes. The many-minds interpretation takes this to a higher level, where the universe splitting would happen at the mind's level. This is a man-centered interpretation and is the one that is most commonly used in animes/series/movies.

In Community: You have to think that the few timelines (7? I don't remember, haven't watched Community in too long) presented are only a tiny few of the available timelines in the multiverse. Every time a choice is made, a new timeline (universe) is created. So there's a timeline where Troy actually never left, and one where Abed catches the dice before it rolls.

I highly recommend you read about the basics of Quantum Theory and then on Everett's interpretation and how it defers from the Copenhagen interpretation. The Many-worlds interpretation is a common Sci-fi subject and does have theories to back it up.

Thanks for bringing up Community anyway, always brightens my day.

  • Thank you for all the informations! I know quantum theory and everett's interpretation but I wasn't convinced that a quantum event could be happenning here since, strictly speaking, Abed catched the dice before it happenned. the many-minds theory sounds like a good alternative that can explain all of this. – Joulin Nicolas Jun 8 '16 at 9:03
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    @JoulinNicolas For Abed's catching the die to have prevented the other timelines, you have to accept that this is the only action that creates multiple timelines. But if every action creates them, then his catching the die is just one possibility (which subsequently splits off again, of course). The point here is that the observer - meaning, the director - chose to shows 6 timelines, five of which split off from the die landing, one of which split off a second earlier. – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Jun 8 '16 at 9:55
  • It's a very interesting thing to include the director of the show into the process as the observer ! A very meta thought that really fits the show. – Joulin Nicolas Jun 8 '16 at 13:05

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