Well, hasn't this been a week for mind bending science? Time bending too, is seems. Though my teeny tiny mind is struggling with the concepts and it seems I'm not alone.
From what I can gather, scientists think they might have discovered something about neutrinos.
(Struggling already? Don't know what a neutrino is? Think 'atom' and then think MUCH smaller - then divide that a few more zillion times and you're beginning to see just how small these little beasties are. Only whatever you come up with, neutrinos are smaller. They really are very, very small indeed.)
Anyway, as I understand it (ie not at all) what scientists at Cern think (because 'proof' is apparently a long way off) is that neutrinos might be able to move faster than light and ain't nothing in the universe that's supposed to be able to do that. (Though my sons move pretty fast when I tell them to tidy their room.)
Thing is, this is Really Important because, if true, it undermines the whole way we understand (or in my case, fail to understand) ... well, everything really. Because that 'everything' is based on Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity. (He had other theories but they weren't so special. I have one about Ordinary Relativity which explains why we all have some family members who are rather boring.)
So - all this Matters (think there might be a science-y joke there) because it opens up questions about the possibility of time travel. Taken to its logical conclusion, it means something could arrive before it leaves. Geddit?
Oh, look, you might have guessed by now that I'm several billion billion neutrinos short of being an expert so I'm going to try to relate all this to the craft of writing fiction.
Some time back, I dabbled (in the most amateurish possible way) with quantum theory, when I focused on whether it's possible for fictional plotlines to exist in parallel universes. Now I'm going to gird my loins and switch attention to how the same theory might relate to the way we create fictional characters.
Now, this is going to take a bit of explaining, even on the basic kindergarten level I'm operating on here with my aforementioned teeny tiny brain, so make yourself comfortable and prepare to make the ... er ... quantum leap into Debiworld (or one of them).
For starters, you need to accept the initial concept of an infinite number of parallel universes. In other words, each time any of us comes to a fork in one of life's many roads, a new world is created in which we take the other path. If you also accept that we are the sum of our experiences, as we make hundreds of these sorts of decisions every day, it stands to reason that each of these worlds contains a different version of us, sometimes varying by the merest tweak, at other times resulting in us becoming completely different people.
In still more other words, if you accept that we are the sum of our experiences, it's logical to believe that there are an infinite number of ways we turn out. In some worlds, we probably die young; in others we may live to 100. At its most extreme, in one world you might be a dictator and in another, a victim, yet both would be versions of the same 'you'.
Right. You still with me? Do pay attention please. We're about to get to how this connects with writing fiction.
(In another universe, I will have got to the point earlier. If the new stuff turns out to be right, I got there before my fingers hit the keyboard. In yet another, I'll ramble on for ever and never get there. In that one, a version of you might hunt me down and slap me, thereby creating yet another universe. In that one, I will have a black eye. One 'me' will then sue you for assault. Another will fight back, giving you two black eyes. etc etc etc ...)
So ... ah, yes, the point.
Whenever I create a new fictional character, I'm aware that she is a version of ... me. She's based on a particular aspect of my character but it takes her in a direction that the Debi who is writing this post would never go. As a result of that, things happen to her that would not happen to 'this' me. And as a result of those experiences, she changes still more, becoming someone who bears no resemblance at all to me. But, maybe, she's a 'me' who does exist in one of those other infinite universes.
OK, so now we get to the point where the 'you' who is reading this tells the 'me' who's writing it if I'm talking unadulterated rubbish or if I'm on to something here. Or both. Or ...
In one universe, there's a Debi who wins the Nobel Prize for the above.
In another, I already have.
In this one, I'll be dismissed as a rambling incontinent. Them's the breaks.
There. I hope you understand it all now.