I spent $2.99 on a universe splitter and it was the best worst decision of my life


Emily Zhu

A disturbingly cute cat exists in two universes at once.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m one of the most indecisive people they’ve ever met. Instead of deciding things for myself, I often use random number counters, other people or objects I find on the street that may just be signs from the universe. When it comes to decision-making, I’m up for anything but relying on my brain.

I think that indecision stems from a fear of repercussions. Even in grade school, I used to wonder about ripples in the universe — if I, say, stopped as I was walking home to look at a flower, would I be setting a course of events in motion that would result in my or my loved ones’ deaths? Would that one second of wonder make me one second slower reaching a corner, one second slower getting home, one second slower for the rest of my life? Maybe that one second lost might just make my family and me miss boarding a rocketship escaping an imploding earth. 

It’s not impossible.

So in my mind, every decision, seemingly insignificant or monumental, has an immeasurable impact on our lives and the lives around us. Maybe when you chose to eat ice cream for breakfast, you helped someone win a million dollars. Maybe you somehow played a part in a tragic death-by-train accident. There are infinite possibilities created when we make one decision — infinite ways we could be affecting the world, yet we strictly perceive a single reality. 

Obviously, it’s only rational that due to the severity of even the tiniest of decisions, there are infinite universes, each born (split, one could say) from one decision after another. It makes total sense. 

Here’s where my $2.99 app comes in: It is a real, true, certified universe splitter. It has a diagram of an atom as its logo, so you know it’s the real deal.

What is a universe splitter? Well, it’s the cure to all of your decision-making problems! It allows for you to input two different decisions — perhaps eating an entire jar of Nutella or eating half a jar — into two sturdy-looking text boxes. Then, there’s a button to click that says “SPLIT UNIVERSE.” That’s where the magic happens.

A remote quantum device (certified by the National Metrology Institute of Switzerland, an organization surely as trustworthy as one could find) is activated, sending a single photon toward a partially-silvered mirror. This photon has two possible paths, and scientists that believe in the many-worlds system of quantum mechanics will say that the photon takes both paths, only in different universes. Based on the photon’s observed fate, the app tells you which universe you seem to be experiencing.

The concept is similar to that of Schrodinger’s Cat, a thought experiment featuring a cat — disturbingly cute or disgusting, we will never know — that is placed in a box. Inside this box is a tiny bit of radioactive material with a 50 percent chance of decaying. If it does decay, it will activate a Geiger counter that releases a gas that kills the cat in an instant.

So is the cat alive? Dead? What Schrodinger came to believe was that it is both alive and dead, just in two different universes. Until we observe what’s inside the box, no one knows. The moment we do observe the contents of the box, we’ve snapped to the universe where the cat is either alive or dead — not both. In other words, we’ve created two universes and are experiencing one.

Now, I am by no means religious, otherwise maybe some dude up in the sky would be making my decisions for me instead of an app, but I believe wholeheartedly in this cat. I’d like to think that in this universe, it’s disturbingly adorable. Science know-it-alls, don’t come at me and tell me my cat isn’t real. I don’t take kindly to you cat-atheists.

Back to our revolutionary app. The aforementioned photon fired at a partially-silvered mirror is like our godly cat — in both possible paths, but in two new universes until we observe it. Once that photon is observed, there’s no going back — we’re stuck living in a universe where Donald Trump can’t pronounce Yosemite or anonymous. 

I’ve used the app to decide whether I’ll wear sweatpants the next day. I’ve used it to decide whether to “full send” or “just not.” I’ve used it for all kinds of mega-important life decisions and, according to its “Multiverse Statistics” feature, created billions of universes.

The problem is that I don’t always follow what the Universe Splitter tells me to do. One time, it told me that I was in the universe where I didn’t eat any more peanut M&M’S, but after seeing that I went straight to the kitchen and got another handful. I spent a while wondering whether or not I’d broken the universe, ripped the time-stream or caused a black hole to form somewhere in space, but came to a rather anticlimactic finding while eating my 34th M&M. 

I hadn’t broken anything; I was just in the universe where some photon went in some direction and some app told me not to eat any more M&M’S. Sure, the Universe Splitter could split universes, but to assume that a random decision you type into a sturdy-looking text box is somehow inherently linked to the path a photon takes is just wishful thinking.

No matter how much I want to rely on this quantum-machine-photon-firing app for all my decision-making needs, I can’t ignore the fact that once you’re shown the supposed outcome of the photon-firing, there’s something in your brain that still has the potential to either agree or disagree. There’s more potential for universe-splitting there — you can choose to live in the universe where you listen to the Universe Splitter or not. You don’t need an app to split universes; you can do it yourself, which means that my prized $2.99 was, unfortunately, rather obsolete.

But I don’t think that money was completely wasted; no, it was put to (somewhat) good use. Perhaps it took almost three dollars for me to realize that I didn’t need an app to decide whether or not to eat a whole or half jar of Nutella (though I realize now $2.99 might have been a little expensive for that).

I don’t mean for this article to be inspiring; I think everything I’ve written so far is purely factual and should be interpreted as such. This was just supposed to convince you to believe in a cat you can’t see, accept the fact that it’s both dead and alive, adorable and disgusting until it’s observed and conclude that something in your brain is a quantum-photon-firing-machine-thingy that has the power to split universes (one that doesn’t cost us $2.99).

I guess that could be called decision-making and its consequences, but we’re not in the universe where I want to call it that. We’re in the universe where just reading this article has unimaginable consequences (if you win the lottery, you’re welcome; if tragedy occurs, I am not responsible by any means). We’re also in the universe where there are people named Chad, Schrodinger’s cat bless them.