What is Reality?
Perfectly Imperfect Reality
The expression "the / this Universe" is used below to refer to anything that can be observed, and to a lesser degree to anything that may exist but can't be observed. Nothing can be determined about what can't be observed, but it will be implicitly presumed that it has the same rules as what can be observed.
This description of the Universe is not a new theory, and is not a mathematical description. This description is an attempt to remove as much observational bias and confusing language as possible, from the conversations about the Universe.
It's very difficult for people to understand what the Universe is because they are very bad at using precise language to identify and separate concepts, and because imprecise language persists virtually forever. The imprecise language leads to confusion (which creates an observational bias), which then combines with other observational biases to further degrade people's understanding of the Universe.
It's critical to understand that clarity of language brings clarity of thought, that precise language brings precise thought. People can't achieve their full logical potential without clear / precise language.
People colloquially use the words "space" and "time" in several ways, sometimes with contradictory meanings. Until Albert Einstein, physicists have used the same words to model the space and time characteristics of the Universe. Despite seeing a rift between the colloquial usage and the physics usage of these words, they've continued to use them to model relativistic space and time. Today, the language confusion is so bad that speaking about time has become a metaphysical conversation rather than a clarifying one.
When you will finish reading below about change and time, you will start to see that the main views that people have had so far about time are true, when looking from a different perspective, even though they appear opposed: time is illusory and real, time is fundamental and emergent, time flows and doesn't, time is only one moment and many, time is personal and global, past and future are indistinguishable and different.
Anything that happens in the Universe is a change of the state of a quanta within any characteristic of the Universe.
A state transforms into another state only through a state change, or in short, through a change.
The Universe contains only one manifested / real state, called current state. Since there is only one current state, it's irrelevant what the state of each quanta in the entire the Universe is "at the same time".
Change (of a quanta) has several properties:
Since change is sequential, not a sequence, it's not possible to go back in the sequence, so to revert a change, a new state change is needed.
Change is unlikely to revert spontaneously because it has no reason to do so. A quanta's state progresses to new states, and, unlike the single previous state, new states are a virtually infinite number of possibilities, so probability is against the one previous state. If change were to revert spontaneously, the Universe would loop between two states, so it would be non-functional because its current state would not be able to contain traces, so complex patterns would not be able to form, and life would have no past to learn from in order to create more and more complex patterns.
The speed of change in a quanta's external frame of reference affects the speed of change in the quanta's internal frame of reference. This is described by relativistic effects, where the speed of movement in space, and gravity / mass affect the speed of time.
When observed from the internal frame of reference, change appears to have a constant speed, even though from the external frame of reference it appears to have a different speed. This is because all the change in the internal frame of reference happens with the same speed.
Does the speed of change manifest over a hypothetical quanta of state change? It's unknown, but if it were, then this quanta would be a fundamental characteristic of the Universe, something which would represent the tiniest speed of change from one state to another. Also if it were, the measurement of lengths / distances / intervals of change between states would be quantized. Time, as in time intervals, would then become, as some physicists say, an emerging factor in the equations of physics, a non-fundamental characteristic of the Universe, the number of state changes.
States and state changes have no and need no simultaneity.
Since there is no sequence of states or state changes, states don't have a specific index in the "sequence" of states, and there is no start index in the "sequence", but it's possible to count the number of state changes, so it's possible to measure lengths / distances / intervals of change between certain states. The same is true for state changes.
The states of different quanta are not synchronized within a global "sequence" of the Universe, that is, they are not synchronized in time. The same is true for state changes.
Change is a fundamental property of the Universe.
Change exists / manifests / is real / is present.
A quanta exists / manifests / is real / is present because it either changes its state (in either its internal or external frame of reference), or has a static characteristic (like mass). If a quanta doesn't change and lacks any static characteristic, it ceases to exist.
Any change that happens in the Universe, including a reversal of change, happens only through a state change.
If nothing were to change, the Universe would not be functional.
A trace is: an approximation of a previous state, a previous state of a lower resolution than the original previous state, an incompletely measurable previous state.
A trace is information encoded in some quanta about some other quanta's state previous. A trace is always separate from the source it represents, so a trace acts as a confirmation / duplication of something else. A trace is not a specific particle or phenomena.
The current state of the Universe includes traces of its previous states.
Traces can be read from the current state, so previous states can be observed, even though with a lower resolution than the original.
Traces degrade at every state change. The degradation happens through an increase of entropy, and through interaction with other quanta.
Traces degrade at every state change in exactly the same way, together with the current state, because the Universe doesn't see a separation between the current state and traces. This means that the more state changes pass, the more degraded a trace is, so, an older trace will be more degraded than a recent trace, because more degradation steps have occurred.
This means that traces degrade in a geometric progression, or faster, where the common ratio is below 1 because only a fraction of the information from the previous state is present in the current state. Because the sum of a geometric progression has a limit when the common ratio is below 1, the traces of all the previous states of the Universe are limited to a fraction from the current state of the Universe.
Examples of traces are: the cosmic microwave background, (reflected or emitted) photons, memories, textual descriptions of the world, photos and videos. The cosmic microwave background is the most degraded trace through entropy.
When people see the world around them, they see traces, not the current state of the observed objects. Seeing objects nearby can be considered instantaneous, but in the case of stars, the traces are very old, from years to billions of years.
There is a detailed trace example below.
Progression of change and quasi traces
In this Universe, change is a progression, that is, each next state is very similar to the previous state, a continuation of what was before, so the new state contains the previous state at a lower resolution (than the original previous state).
The progressive property of change would be undetectable without traces because without the ability to compare consecutive states it would be impossible to say that change is a progression.
The progressive property of change can be called a quasi trace because, like a trace, it contains the previous state at a lower resolution (than the original previous state), but it (= the progressive property of change) is undetectable without traces.
If the progressive property of change would not exist, so every state change were random, the Universe would be non-functional because complex patterns would not be able to form, and life would have no past to learn from in order to create more and more complex patterns.
If the current state were to contain the entire previous state as a trace, the Universe would freeze in that single state because the informational limit of the current state would be filled with that trace. There are three possibilities for this to not happen:
Observations show that (in) the Universe:
Past and future
The Universe has no time dimension, that is, it has no time sequence in which quanta can move back and forth, like they can do in space, so there is no past, present or future in such a dimension. The past, present and future are states (of quanta) that can be observed.
Traces are the only way in which the past can be identified, so the past emerges from the ability to recover it / traces from within the current state.
So, the past is any previous state whose trace is contained within the current state. The future is any next state, that is, any state which will be the current state. States which are never the current state are neither past nor future.
The past is observable only because its traces are still present in the current state of the Universe. The older the past is, the more degraded its traces are, so the less accurately it can be observed / described.
What would happen if a trace were degraded to the point of becoming inaccessible? The previous state that the trace represents would vanish completely and forever, without any indication that it has ever existed.
Now it's finally possible to discard the notions of "previous" and "next" states for a moment, so it's possible to say that a previous state is any state whose trace is contained within the current state, and that a next state is any state whose trace is not contained within the current state. The concepts of "previous" and "next" states will continue to be used, else things would become very confusing.
A Universe without traces
A Universe without traces, like a Universe where states loop among a small number of states or where every state is random, would be non-functional because complex patterns would not be able to form, and life would have no past to learn from in order to create more and more complex patterns.
In such a Universe, it's impossible to know if there was a past, so it's impossible to know how change happens, that is, the Universe could either loop between two states or could be random at every state change. The only thing that could settle the question is for the current state to contain traces of previous states.
What about an observer who is external to that Universe? Such an observer would have the same problem: for the observer to see the past of that Universe, the observer has to record traces (of anything that comes from the observed Universe).
Physicists say that the fundamental characteristics of the Universe are symmetric, except for time, that is, they can revert perfectly, or at least that's what the equations allow for.
Since change is sequential, not a sequence, it's not possible to go back in the sequence, so to revert a change, a new state change is needed.
The new state creates a new trace. This means that the state after the reversal can be distinguished from the initial state, due to the new trace. This means that change is asymmetric due to traces.
This means that the reversal of change is never perfect, like the equations of physics make it appear. The equations of physics say that the laws of physics are symmetric, but they only appear to work fine without taking into consideration the asymmetry of change. At the scale of the entire Universe, the asymmetry of change can't be ignored.
Take the movement in space, for example. If an object moves from A to B, it can perfectly move back from B to A, in equations. But in order for the object to move back, the object must change its state again and a new trace is created. In classical physics, this trace is known as an increase of entropy outside the object's frame of reference, but it's an incomplete explanation. The new trace is not present in the equations of movement. The equations treat the original movement from A to B as having never happened, because they work fine in that small context.
In a Universe without traces, for example one that loops between two states, change is symmetric because its reversal is indistinguishable from the initial state. It would still not be possible to go back in a "sequence" of changes, although being possible and being impossible are indistinguishable without traces.
The distinguishable asymmetry of change can be called the arrow of change.
Detailed trace example
Consider an apple tree in an orchard. An apple falls from the tree toward the ground. The apple on the ground is the new current state. Seeing it on the ground leads to a logical deduction that it has fallen, but there's no trace / knowledge of that yet, and you're deducing that only based on your memories of how the world works.
While falling, the apple and the ground around it reflect photons, from the Sun, creating traces that move away from Earth and keep on going in the Universe. Whatever happens to the apple now, whatever its current state is, its traces (= the photons) continue to exist separately.
Someone in the Universe intercepts these photons and sees the apple falling on the ground. What they see is not the current state of the apple, but the traces of the previous states of the apple.
Why is a trace only an approximation of a previous state? Because it (= the photons) degrades at every state change through an increase of entropy, and through interaction with other quanta.
It the photons weren't behaving like this, if the trace that they make weren't degrading, the Universe would get filled with traces and would become non-functional, that is, the photons would (have to) maintain their information content, so they would not be transformed and integrated into different things.
The simple change of states, without traces, can't fill the Universe with information because that process is an equivalent transformation of information, that is, the apple is still the same apple.
You could say that the photons are also an equivalent transformation of information because they already exist in the Universe and are simply transformed through an interaction with the apple. That's true, but that happens only by degrading / destroying the previous trace that they've made.
If traces wouldn't exist, either as photons moving away or as memories that let you deduce the past, there would be no knowledge of the past, and the past could just as well be any state that hasn't occurred yet, and which may never occur.
Take a glass which is broken on the ground. You see it, you logically deduce that it broke, but you don't know how it broke. However, there are traces of that process, out in the Universe. Without those traces, there is no knowledge about the past (of the glass).
By the way, your logical deductions were wrong: the apple didn't fall on the ground but was put there by someone, and the glass didn't broke but the shards were made like that, so the past that you believe in is imaginary. The point is that without traces you can't create a correct model of how the world works.
Consider the following state progression notation: A → B → C.
The letters represent states, while the "→" operator represents a state change (between the adjacent letters).
AB is a shortcut for A → B, BC is a shortcut for B → C, ABC is a shortcut for A → B → C.
This notation represents that state A changes into state B, and state B changes into state C.
Because of traces, state B contains a trace of state A, and that state C contains a trace of state B, so the notation can be expanded into: A → B+T(A) → C+T(B).
The "+" operator represents that the left side (= the state) contains the right side (= the trace).
T is a trace function, that is, it's a function which degrades the state given as a parameter into a trace. T is distributive over "+" because it's oblivious to the previous traces (from the state on which it's applied), so it affects everything in the same way.
State C can be expanded into C+T(B+T(A)), and due to T's distributivity, can also be expanded into C+T(B)+T(T(A)). You can see how state A is degraded twice during the two state changes from A to C.
To understand the asymmetry of change, during a reversal, consider the following progression: A → B → A. Because of traces, this can be expanded into: A → B+T(A) → A+T(B). This means that if the change AB reverts through the change BA, the state after the reversal (= A+T(B)) can be distinguished from the initial state (= A), due to the new trace (= T(B)).
What is time? Is time real or is it an illusion?
Some physicists say that time isn't real, yet you see time passing all the time around you. So, is time real? Time is a factor used in relativistic equations to measure lengths / distances / intervals. Is time absolute, like a fundamental characteristic of the Universe? No, absolute time is not real.
The language confusion reaches the apogee when using the expression "four-dimensional space-time continuum". The mathematically accurate description of space-time is four-dimensional manifold.
The Universe has no time dimension, that is, it has no time sequence in which quanta can move back and forth, like they can do in space, so there is no past, present or future in such a dimension. The past, present and future are states (of quanta) that can be observed.
When people talk about time, they actually mean change. People care about what they remember to be history, so they care about the state of the Universe that their memory has recorded and can be used for comparison, and also care about predicting what will happen in a future state of the Universe in order to gain various advantages.
People see change by comparing an observed state (actually, a trace) of the Universe with the traces of the past states stored in their minds, and call it "time passed". In this sense, time is real because change has happened.
To clarify your confusion about time, in all your (physics) conversations about time, substitute the word "time" with the word "change" and you'll see how everything about time fits into place. You can see examples of this in the Rewording concepts section.
Time is change.
Clocks measure change. Each clock tick / change is produced by a certain periodic physical / chemical / biological change of matter (that the clock is made of).
This is why, in relativistic physics, an observer (Alice) sees the ticks of her clock happening with the same periodicity, no matter what her speed of movement in space is, that is, despite time dilation; this is because all the state changes in her frame of reference have the same speed.
Only when comparing her clock with the clock of another observer (Bob), is that they can see differences in what their clocks show. This has been experimentally observed in the Hafele–Keating experiment, where change has happened for each clock with a different speed.
Why do clocks usually appear to measure change with the same speed? Because they are changing their shown time based on the same kind of state changes, changes which usually have the same speed. However, relativistic effects do affect the speed with which state changes happen.
If nothing were to change, clocks could not track time. Since there could be no time without change, time (as factor in the equations of physics), isn't a fundamental characteristic of the Universe, but, as some physicists say, is an emerging factor in the equations, a non-fundamental characteristic of the Universe.
Traveling back in time
Is it possible to travel back in time? This is imprecise language.
What you really want is a specific fantasy which is different than the reversal of change.
You expect that such a travel would move you in a previous state of the Universe, state which would continue to change with you in it.
You also expect that the state from which you've left would continue to change without you in it.
You also expect that you would be able to return to the state from which you've left, which would then continue to change with you in it, while the previous state would continue to change without you in it.
Remember that only the current state exists in the Universe, and there is no time dimension, so it's not possible to travel back in time the way you fantasize.
But maybe there is some unknown field where each state of the Universe is stored at every state change, field which could theoretically be accessed. Perhaps this field is read-only, so it can't be affected by further change, or perhaps it is affected when you interact with it, and creates a new state, forming a tree structure. This hasn't been observed, so it remains a fantasy.
Here are some existing concepts from physics that are reworded using the concept of change instead of the word "time".
Why does entropy increase in the Universe? Because the Universe has created life that can ask such questions. If the entropy were to not increase, the Universe would be non-functional and would not create life forms (that can ask such questions). The reason for this is that in order for traces to not fill the current state with information (making the Universe non-functional), they have to degrade (which is done through an increase of entropy in the Universe).
Why can the future change, but the past can't? What do you mean by the "future can change"? It certainly doesn't mean that people have control over the change, since there is no free will. The current state does change sequentially, based on the laws of physics and some randomness, so the future comes into existence as the new current state. However, any state which is not the current state can't change, be that state from either the past or from a future that will never happen. So, the future becomes / follows, it doesn't change.
Is time asymmetric? No, because there is no time dimension, no absolute time. However, time is change and change is asymmetric. In fact, all characteristics of the Universe (related to change) are asymmetric because a reversal of any such characteristic requires a new state change which creates a new trace.
The arrow of time is the arrow of change.
Physicists say that the arrow of time is determined by the fact that the entropy increases in the Universe, starting from the initial state of the Universe. According to the properties of change, change is asymmetric because of traces, not because entropy increases. However, traces don't fill the current state with information (making the Universe non-functional) because they degrade through entropy, so, indirectly, the arrow of time / change is determined by the entropy increase.
Some physicists say that it's theoretically possible to go back in time by reversing entropy on a small scale. However, reverting entropy on a small scale requires increasing the entropy outside that small context. Going back in time is impossible because in order to go back to a previous state, a new state change is required, which means a trace would be created, which means that the Universe would not really be as it was in that previous state, so it doesn't really "go back in time".
What does the space-time continuum from the Theory of Relativity really mean? Remember that time is change, so the continuum is actually space-change. But what is space? Space is a characteristic of the Universe where movement happens. But what is movement? Movement is change, that is, in order for movement to occur, a state change must occur, so space and change are inextricably linked, link which is called the space-time continuum.
Did time start at the Big Bang? This is imprecise language. The Universe has no fundamental characteristic called time. Time is change, so what you really want to know is if there was any change before the Big Bang. It may have been, but since the Universe doesn't contain a trace of a state from before the Big Bang, people can't say if there was anything before the Big Bang. So, in this Universe change / time did start at the Big Bang, but in other Universes it didn't.
Was there any change before the Big Bang? People haven't observed any trace from before the Big Bang, so as far as people know the Universe was born at the Big Bang. There may have been another Universe before the Big Bang, but people can't find out about it because they observe no trace of it.
What does it mean that time slows down the closer you get to the event horizon of a black hole? It means that change in a quanta's internal frame of reference slows down until it stops at the event horizon, point when, from far away from the black hole, the quanta appears to have vanished because the lack of change means that no photons are emitted. Inside the quanta, change appears to happen normally because all the change inside happens with the same speed, even though this speed is slower than the speed with which change happens far away from the black hole. The quanta continues to change in its external frame of reference, so it continues to move according to its movement speed, and it also continues to have mass.
If time doesn't flow when moving at the speed of light, and time is change, it means that photons don't change (since they move with the speed of light). So how do photons still exist? Because photons still have characteristics: they move, have mass and frequency.
If a photon doesn't change in its internal frame of reference (since they move with the speed of light), why does it have a wavelength / frequency? This is a good question without a definite answer.
It looks as if the wavelength is an external change since it exists while the photon moves with the speed of light, but it also looks as if it's an internal change since it's affected by gravity in the same way the photon's internal clock is affected.
Even weirder, it looks like gravity affects frequency as if the photons don't move, so as if their speed of movement is 0. Add to this the fact that photons always appear to move with the speed of light, no matter the speed of an observer.
Putting all this together, it looks as if photons already incorporate all relativistic effects related to movement, so their frame of reference for movement (including its effect on the internal change) has its origin at the speed of light, not at 0, that is, their characteristics are "proper" at the speed of light. Gravity adds an effect on top of this.
This means that wavelength / frequency is an internal change whose frame of reference has its origin at the speed of light, not 0.
The observational bias makes people generally ignore all the invisible information, all the invisible combinations. Because of this, people end up believing that the Universe is magic / special / unique.
At this point it's probably virtually impossible for you to realize that what you see and perceive is not a fundamental characteristic of the Universe, but only tools that people (and other mechanisms) use to simplify their interaction with the Universe.
To help with understanding this problem, here is a tool that people use to make sense of the Universe, tool that's relatively simple to explain: color. Color doesn't exist in the Universe. Are you surprised? Indeed, there is no color.
The light which is emitted by a light source (like the sun) has a certain energy spectrum (containing a virtually infinite number of wavelengths). Some of this light is reflected by objects, but only very specific wavelengths of the light.
The eye, in its turn, can record the intensity of this reflected light only in three very specific wavelengths. The interaction of all these factors is processed by the brain and outputted (to the consciousness) as what people call color.
So, color is a not fundamental characteristic of the Universe, yet people see it all the time around them, believing with all their being that color is a real characteristic of the Universe.
Similarly, for example, time is a tool that people use to keep track of change, that is, it's not a fundamental characteristic of the Universe.
What is the Universe made of? Of several fundamental characteristics that can interact among them.
What are these characteristics know as in physics? Fields. Space is also a field. The measurements of lengths / distances / intervals within these characteristics appear to be quantized, space and time included.
A field is never empty, that is, it lacks nothingness by default, that is, some presence may exist in it. This is observed through quantum field fluctuations. This happens by nothingness splitting in two quanta that move away from one another, quanta that have equal energies, but of opposite signs, which total 0; therefore, in total, the Universe has 0 energy.
Is Reality an illusion? No. The understanding that people have of Reality is incorrect, so the Reality that people think / thought of is an illusion, that is, it doesn't represent / describe it accurately.
Why is the Universe like this?
The only reason why you would ask this question is because you observe that structure and life are rare around you, so your observational bias makes you believe that nothingness is the default and only state of things. Since the Universe exists in spite of this belief, you think that magic is the only explanation for its existence, for structure, for life.
But the Universe has not issued an edict about anything, like rules saying that only nothingness may exist, or that something must exist, or that it is finite or infinite. Basically, the Universe has no predetermined rules. Therefore, both nothingness and existence, chaos and structure, finite and infinite, anything for that matter, may or may not be possible, with no guarantees of any kind.
It's your observational bias that creates rules which you believe that the Universe must follow. Extrapolating anything from what you see and saying that what you don't see must follow those rules is your observational bias.
The existence of the Universe is an indication that nothingness is not the only thing that can exist, that there can be something other than nothingness, like existence / presence, and also that the Universe has started to exist at some point. Your observational bias is that you can't see all the places / Universes where nothingness is the default state.
However, the default lack of nothingness and the existence / presence of something doesn't mean that absolutely anything can pop into existence out of nothing, only quanta can.
Whenever science will be able to describe the rules that make the Universe, it will only be able to describe what people can observe, not what is possible in all Universes. That description will say absolutely nothing about other Universes or what rules may or may not govern them. Even saying that the Universe has rules would be an observational bias, a desire to shape the Universe the way you want it to be: to have specific rules.
No matter how much science will try to determine the root cause that led to the existence of the Universe, it can only wander along an infinite loop of causality that must always be observationally confirmed. The only way to break this infinite loop is to observe that nothing deterministic can be observed beyond a certain point, that only randomness, perhaps not even as a probability, can be observed.
The laws of physics of the Universe are deterministic, but the Universe also contains some quantum field fluctuations, which are indeterministic. This indeterminism can lead to dramatically divergent future states due to the Butterfly effect.
Determinism means that it's possible to create a simulation on a computer (of an unlimited processing power) in which when putting the exact same things, in the exact same context, over and over, produces the exact same result.
Indeterminism means that the Universe is not predetermined (from its beginning), so no state can be exactly determined from another state (even given all the information about it). It also means that there is no free will because both the determinism and indeterminism are outside people's control.
Initial state and progression
The laws of physics are patterns, so everything in the Universe is made of patterns, not events, as it might be casually thought. Events are states in the progression of patterns.
Patterns don't require complexity, they create it during their manifestation and interaction, with every iteration / state change. This process can be easily visualized in fractals which have very simple initial states but can create a virtually infinite variety of enormous complexity.
The patterns which have created the Universe had a very simple initial state, but have created an enormous complexity by building on existing patterns.
How did the Universe occur? How does an entire Universe pop out of nothingness?
The Universe has not popped into existence as complex as it is now. At some point, a change has occurred out of nothingness, an informational change, and as a result a fundamental rule (/ law of physics) has popped into existence. Then followed a few other. Why have these changes occur? Why would they not occur, except for your belief that nothingness is the default state of the Universe? The Universe is the progression of these rules, that it, they have lead to the Universe that you can observe, to the Universe in which you can ask "Why is the Universe like this?"
There is nothing special about the Universe. It's just the only one that you can observe. There may have been many other changes that you know nothing about, that you can't observe, that may have either led to many other different Universes, or that have led nowhere. There may have been an infinite number of changes, or there may have been only the one that made this Universe.
Why does the Universe have this form? Because of nothing special. It's just one form out of any number of possible forms. It just happened to be this form. It could have been anything else. Right now there may be countless different forms of Universes where other forms of life ask the same question (even though those life forms are all fundamentally different from the ones from this Universe), or where nobody asks such a question because those Universes can't sustain any structure or any life form that could ask such a question.
After these rules have occurred out of nothingness, the Universe has started to progress step by step. New patterns have started to build on existing patterns, reusing them, that is, things started to lead to more complex things. Why does this happen? Because it's much easier to reuse than to build everything from the beginning, which means that anything new that follows the existing patterns is much more successful and survives for much longer, so what remains after a long time are only the combinations that have worked for a long time. It's hard to realize this because the failed attempts (of new patterns to not build on existing patterns) are invisible.
While there may be multiple Universes, each Universe may have different rules compared to any other Universe, that is, the Universes might not share common characteristics (space included) because Reality has not issued any edict about any characteristic being common for all Universes. In fact, all these Universes might not even share the space-time that this Universe exists in.
Some physicists say that the number of combinations (of quanta states) in a Universe is limited, but in their examples they reference deterministic state changes, something like a movie (which is always the same no matter how many times you see it). (A state change of) The Universe is indeterministic, not deterministic.
This means that the possible number of continuously changing Universes may be infinite, so even if there were an infinite number of Universes, it's (virtually) impossible to have two identical ones because that would mean dividing infinite (number of Universes) by infinite (number of changing combinations).
This description of Reality doesn't require multiple Universes, that is, the existence of other Universes is not required in order to explain the laws of physics. There may be multiple Universes, but not necessarily at the same time, that is, they may be sequential.
Believing that this Universe is the only one there can be is the same observational bias that gave birth to religions and philosophies that wanted there to be only one world, one life ecosystem, one intelligent species, one truth, one people holding the truth, one religion, and one god. Such a belief in the magic of uniqueness is the most fundamentally irrational thought that humankind obsessively holds on to.
Example 1: This planet / Universe appears to be fine tuned for life
This is an observational bias.
This planet / Universe is not fine tuned for life, it simply made it possible for people to live and make such a statement. This has happened with 100% certainty, as people can be observed to make such a statement. On a planet without people, this statement can't be made, also with 100% certainty.
Therefore, this statement can be made and not made on the two planets with no degree of uncertainty or difficulty. The only thing that can be inferred is that this is (the) one planet where life has occurred (in spite of all the difficulties).
In other words, this planet must already have had all the properties that are required for life to have survived for so long, in order for people to be able to make this statement. The planets where this didn't happen, didn't produce life that could make this statement.
Let's say that you were able to determine that it is extremely difficult for life to exist on a planet, something like 1 in a billion. This would still be the one planet with people on it, which means that all the other planets should not have life, but you can't observe that (yet). If several of the other planets were to contain life in spite of this low probability, it would not mean that something magical has happened, but that the probability was wrongly determined without having all the facts (= planets with life), that is, unless you can prove the existence of a magic-creating edict issued by the Universe.
At some point people may be able to determine such a probability for the planets in the Universe, but they will be able to do so only based on observation, not on any edict issued by the Universe. And the only consequence for this planet would still be that it is one of those planets that have life, not that it is fine tuned for life.
Example 2: Seriously, just why is the Universe like this?
Here is the most basic explanation.
Consider that there are countless Universes, with only this one visible to people, each having an utterly random form.
A random form can look like absolutely anything, including something structured like this Universe, although the overwhelming majority of such forms appear to people like a mess, like nothing useful.
Now, the overwhelming majority of Universes have not evolved life, due to their mess of a structure.
However, this Universe, has had the necessary structure that could evolve life forms that can ask such a question. It could have been any of the other Universes, there is nothing to identify this Universe in a special way, that is, no X marks this Universe. You identify it in a special way because you, the observer, are in it and you can only see it. You can't be in any other Universe due to the fact that the others can't sustain life, and even if they could, you would still be in only one of them and could not see the others.
So, the problem that confuses you is the observational bias, that is, the fact that you can't see all the other Universes, so you can't see how common are the attempts where the Universes try to create life but can't due to the fact that not all the requirements for life align properly in them.
Interesting musings for which there is no immediate answer.
Entropy: Is the Universe functional only because its entropy increases from the Big Bang (when entropy was minimal)? Would it be possible for patterns to form in a Universe which starts from a random state, but whose entropy doesn't increase? No, because traces / memory are required for patterns to build on patterns, and traces must degrade through entropy in order to not fill the current state with information. But maybe it would be functional if traces were to degrade just through the interaction with other quanta.
Infinite space: Is the Universe infinite in space? There is no way to prove that space is finite or infinite. People can observe space only up to a certain distance, and can't see what is or isn't beyond that. Believing in the possibility of an infinite space is in no way comparable to believing in the possible existence of pink unicorns because people can observe space, so this is a question about a property of something which is observable, not about something which isn't observable. Stating either that the Universe is finite or infinite is an observational bias.
Boltzman brain: Any argument that includes the Boltzman brain is flawed from start. Such an argument starts from the flawed assumption that it's more likely for a brain to pop out of nothingness than it is for the entire Universe to pop out of nothingness. This flawed assumption starts from another flawed assumption that the Universe has started with all the complexity that it has now. In reality, the brain must start with its entire complexity, but the Universe has started from a simple initial state and has progressed toward more and more complexity. Patterns don't require complexity, they create it during their manifestation and interaction, with every iteration. This process can be easily visualized in fractals which have very simple initial states but can create a virtually infinite variety of enormous complexity.
Indeterminism: Is the lack of synchronicity of change producing a feedback loop in nearby state changes which increases indeterminism?
The quantum measurement problem: Is it possible that the observer / people are the cause rather than the effect? This would mean that instead of a quantum wave collapsing when observed, it causes the observer / people to observe it, that is, the observer looks in the direction where the quantum wave collapses.
Gravitons: If there were gravitons, and they were to move with the speed of light, they would not be able to get out of black holes, just like light can't, which means that black holes would not exert gravity outside their event horizon.
The many-worlds interpretation that is speculated to result from quantum superposition has a problem of exponential growth of information / Universes.
What does this mean? Let's say that in this Universe there is a quantum superposition with 2 states. In such a case, the Multiverse must contain 2 Universes.
But what happens in somewhere else in this Universe, simultaneously (= in the same quanta of time), there is another quantum superposition with 2 states?
Now the Multiverse must contain 4 Universes, that is, must contain all possible combinations of superpositions, else it would be as if quantum collapsing exists, which would then mean that the Multiverse is useless from the start.
For the next superposition the Multiverse must contain 8 Universes, and so on for every simultaneous superposition.
Let's ignore the exponential growth for a moment. Let's say that if the largest superposition in this Universe has X states, there are X Universes in the Multiverse, no matter how many simultaneous superpositions exist in this Universe. How would all the simultaneous states in superpositions coordinate in order for each one to attach to a single one of the X Universes?
Getting back to the exponential growth, the problem is even worse. During the next quanta of time, how would each state of a superposition know to which Universe it belongs? Would they randomly attach to an existing Universe? But how would all simultaneous states in superpositions coordinate in order for each one to attach to a single Universe? Or would new Universes be created, thereby creating a new dimension with an exponential growth?
This means that, ultimately, the Multiverse must contain an infinite number of Universes, number that grows exponentially.
What is the purpose of science?
Science tries to explain the causality of what is observable, through simplicity, in the form of a few equations. This is because it's much more likely for simplicity, rather than complexity, to be the origin of the Universe.
Science isn't trying to prove that what isn't observable doesn't exist, like gods, Santa Claus or pink unicorns.
Does the indeterministic nature of change mean that people have free will?
People don't have control over either determinism and indeterminism, so they have no free will.
Has the Universe been created by a creator?
It's impossible to prove that something which is not observed either exists or doesn't exist, like a creator of the Universe. Saying that there is proof either way is an observational bias. However, there is proof that, if the Universe has been created by a creator, it was not a benevolent creator. What is that proof? People have no free will, due to how the laws of physics work to progress the Universe. This means that the Universe progresses with people being unable to control their decisions, which means that the creator has created the Universe with all the evil that you see in it.
How is it possible for dumb fields, particles and atoms to get together to make intelligence and consciousness? Is there a field or particle of consciousness?
No. Rocks, toasters and robots are made of the same dumb elements, yet they are neither intelligent nor conscious. When AI will become conscious, it will be because its complexity leads to consciousness, like it does in people.
Everything and Nothing: What is Nothing? - Nothingness.
Nothing: The Science of Emptiness - Nothingness.
Time Since Einstein - Time.
The Richness of Time – Time (in the human culture).
A Matter of Time - Time. You'll see how difficult it is for people to say that the whole confusion about the illusion of time is that what people colloquially understand through the concept of "time", in reality is the concept of "change".
Do Events Inside Black Holes Happen? - Black holes.
Inside Black Holes - Black holes, a Leonard Susskind lecture. Ignore the math, listen to the words, especially when he says that a black hole is empty inside.