Rick and Morty
'Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody's gonna die. Come watch TV' (R'n'M)
Rick and Morty is not only the most absurd but also the most scientific animated series in a long time. Under a layer of Easter eggs and sarcastic Rick's jokes, the creators of the show hid a lot of scientific theories — the characters encounter their manifestations in each episode. Let's find out what physical pitfalls and philosophical dilemmas this crazy couple tells us about.
The physics of the show is based on the theory of the multiverse. The characters constantly jump from world to world, get acquainted with their alternative incarnations, and watch their own lives on satellite television.
The concept of a multiverse comes from quantum mechanics and assumes that each event splits the universe into several versions with all possible outcomes. Even the flip of a coin creates two parallel universes, with heads in one and tails in the other.
For the first time, Rick explains the multiverse theory in episode 1.06, Rick Potion No. 9, when after an unsuccessful experiment with a love and lapel potion, the entire population of the planet turns into mutant mantises. Unable to cope with the chaos, Rick transports himself and Morty into a parallel reality. There, after burying the corpses of their doppelgangers, they take their places. And in episode 2.01 A Rickle in Time as a result of careless games of Summer and Morty with uncertainty, the world falls apart into 64 parallel universes.
The world of Rick and Morty partly works by the rules of string theory, which combines the postulates of general relativity and quantum mechanics. According to the calculations of Stanford University scientists Andrei Linde and Vitaly Vanchurin, after the Big Bang, the universe began to expand rapidly, forming 10^10^10^7 versions of itself as a result of quantum vibrations. Taking into account the limited ability of the human brain to distinguish between all these incarnations, scientists have reduced its number to 10^10 ^ 16.
So, it turns out that somewhere in the multiverse there are 10^10^16 copies of us? Of course not. The concept of the universe expanding according to different scenarios also suggests options where the world is just a cluster of stars and planets devoid of life. Perhaps there is also a universe that is expanding so fast that stable gravitationally bound systems-galaxies and stars necessary for the emergence of life — cannot appear in it. And in some universes, we will inevitably die — as happened with Rick and Morty.
Rick and Morty move between worlds using a portal cannon like in the game Portal. It opens two black holes connecting two points in different parts of space-time, allowing characters to jump from one universe to another.
Although modern science is still far from teleporting large agents, scientists have succeeded in transmitting information — this process is called quantum teleportation. Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr argued back in 1935 about whether a change in the state of one of the two interacting particles leads to the appearance of similar characteristics in the second particle, no matter how far away it is. As it turned out, it leads - this phenomenon was called quantum entanglement.
In 2017, Chinese scientists performed the first orbital quantum teleportation to a distance of about 1,400 kilometers. Physicists were able to "confuse" and teleport more than 900 photons from the satellite "Mo-Tzu" to the Earth base. And Russian scientists conducted the first two-way quantum teleportation — when a signal about the state of particles is transmitted in both directions. All this can be the first step towards creating a quantum Internet — one in which personal information is fundamentally impossible to hack.
In episode 1.04 M. Night Shaym-Aliens! Rick and Morty get caught in a simulation that aliens have created to steal Rick's recipe for concentrated dark matter. Each attempt to get out of the "matrix" leads to the fact that the characters fail to the next level of the simulation.
And in the series 2.02 Mortynight Run creators of the series also recall videosimulations. In one of them, Morty lives the life of a certain Roy in seconds, after which for a while he can not remember who he really is.
The idea that the world is illusory was expressed by ancient Greek philosophers, but this hypothesis became widespread with the advent of computer games and the idea of virtual reality. In 2003, Nick Bostrom, a Swedish transhumanist philosopher, gave evidence for the theory that humanity exists in a computer simulation. According to the philosopher, it was launched by a certain posthuman civilization to better understand its past.
As a result of complex abstract reasoning Bostrom comes up with two most likely options: either humanity lives in a simulation and any significant threat can be eliminated by restarting, or it will die before reaching the posthuman phase. However, in the reality of Rick and Morty, as we already know, the demise of humanity is far from over.
And recently, scientists Zohan Ringel and Dmitry Kovrizhin from Oxford University refuted Bostrom's hypothesis. They proved that the quantum Monte Carlo method - a computational algorithm used to study complex molecules - simply won't work in a computer system. Alas or hooray, but the world around us is absolutely real.
In episode 2.04, Total Rickall just like in the action movie Total Recall (1990), the characters face a false memory. Only if the hero of Schwarzenegger voluntarily goes to the office of Recall for a portion of pleasant memories, then the Smith family deals with alien parasites that make the characters believe that they have known them for a long time.
It would seem that the past is an unbreakable chain of facts and events. But from a biological point of view, our memory is just a set of relationships between images, smells, and sounds, which is encoded by changes in neurons and neural connections, forming engrams, or "memory traces".
In 2013, the team of the Nobel laureate Suzumi Tonegawa from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology tried to replace the real engram with a false one, instilling false memories in mice. First, the mouse was placed in cell A, which was studied. As a result, memories were formed about the cell. The next day, the poor mouse was transferred to Cell B, where she was electrocuted. When the mouse was placed back in cell A, the fear center in the animal's brain was activated, and this caused associations with the experience in cell B. False memories of Cage A were forming in the animal's mind, even though it wasn't in any danger.
It is not only the physical impact that drives out authentic memories, but also the social environment. Elizabeth Loftus, a professor at the University of California, has shown in a series of experiments that the very wording of a question — for example, at a psychologist's appointment — can lead to distortion of real memories and the formation of new ones. So, many girls "recalled" cases of violence in childhood, which in fact did not exist.
Another reason for the distortion of memories and memory deterioration can be parasites, as happened in the cartoon. For example, a protozoan called toxoplasma, once in the body of mice, caused them to lose their vigilance and go straight to the paws of cats.
The Collective Mind
In episode 2.03 Auto Erotic Assimilation characters meet Rick's ex-girlfriend, Unity. It is a collective intelligence that, at the level of consciousness, united beings of different races and professions, as a result of which they stopped hostility and began to behave as civilized members of society. Brainwashed, of course.
The idea of collective intelligence is borrowed from ants and bees: insects send signals to each other to solve common problems and unite in the face of danger. There are plenty of similar "anthills" in robotics. So, researchers from the University of New Mexico forced robotic reaper ants to extract a certain resource, and they told "colleagues" the location of the source with reserves. And leading technical universities in Europe have launched the RoboEarth project, for which they have developed a program that coordinates the actions of four humanoid robots with different but related functions. This team worked together to serve the hospital patient.
But the most promising technology that humanity has yet to reach is the creation of a joint collective intelligence of robots and humans. According to Elon Musk, the synthesis of "synthetics" and "organics" will increase the accuracy of forecasts in financial markets and allow predicting the outcome of political campaigns.
Rick and Morty decide to build an entire amusement park inside a gentleman with no fixed place of residence in episode 1.03 Anatomy Park. The animated series returns to this topic in series 2.08 Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate, where a nano-doctor is involved in a surgical operation.
It's too early to talk about reducing the number of people traveling through other people's veins. But scientists at the University of California have come closer to looking inside the human body by inventing micromotors. The device is launched inside the body, where it, having reached a certain point, secretes the drug.
And American engineers have gone a step further, coming up with a microrobot, that can capture a single cell, and in the future, an entire tumor. The length of such a device does not exceed 10 micrometers (0.01 millimeters).
In series 3.02 Rickmancing the Stone Morty gains the muscle memory of the fallen warrior's hand. As a result, he loses control of the limb, and it begins to blow off the head of everyone he meets.
Although the idea of a muscle memory transplant sounds crazy, it is based on real scientific research. According to research published in the journal Experimental Biology, scientists have found evidence that skeletal muscle "remembers" the hypertrophied state in which it was before. Therefore, muscle fibers that were once large can regain mass in a relatively short time. Moreover, this information is stored in muscle cells, and not in the brain or nervous system. If you also connect your brain to it, you will be able to master kung fu much faster!
Love is like a chemical reaction
Morty falls in love with his classmate Jessica. In the 1.06 Rick Potion #9 he asks Rick to prepare for him a "love serum" that awakens the senses. But is it really possible to chemically induce love?
Back in the 19th century, the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said that love is a genetically encoded instinct that encourages procreation. And the choice of a partner is determined by whether it is suitable for producing good offspring. A century later, it turned out that Schopenhauer's theory was not far from the truth.
Anthropologists from the University of New Jersey decided to determine which areas of the brain are responsible for love, or rather, for the manifestation of feelings — lust, attraction, and attachment. The reason for the symptoms characteristic of falling in love is the effect on the body of a set of substances: serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and phenethylamine. For some, such a hormonal cocktail causes dependence, they "get hooked" on it, wanting to constantly stay in this state. So if Rick's portion affected the girl's hormonal background, her sudden obsession with Morty is easy to explain with science!
In Episode 1.07, Raising Gazorpazorp Morty persuades Rick to buy him a sex robot, and soon the boy becomes the father of an alien cub. It turns out that the females are from Gazorpazor's race use such robots for carrying and giving birth to children.
It would seem that this idea is absurd? But no, pregnant robots have already slipped into science. A robot named Victoria was invented to train midwives: it responds to questions and external stimuli, helping young specialists gain experience. And recently, scientists were able to raise a lamb in an artificial womb.
Well, sex robots have long been on the market. Harmony doll, a novelty from Abyss Creations, is the latest incarnation of artificial intelligence trapped in an anthropomorphic body. Harmony has a built-in facial recognition feature, and you can use the app to customize her personality traits, from "jealous" to "loving". Although the doll behaves artificially and unnaturally, it is already in great demand. Perhaps one day a humanoid robot will be able to compete with SUSIE from Mass Effect.
Rick and Morty not only told the audience about the most incredible scientific theories but also, more importantly, raised a lot of new questions about what is true and what is fiction. They also encouraged us to reflect on how far science can go. Not bad for a comic animated series, isn't it?