The Science Behind: Stranger Things
One of Netflix’s highest rated series, Stranger Things, has not only given us a binge-worthy thrilling sci-fi world we can indulge ourselves in, but also a whole new theme of science for the ordinary man to philosophize on. The mystery of the Demogorgon, the dark and unknown nature of the Upside Down, the concept of the other dimension, all these definitely call for a much deeper analysis and study of the science behind this show. So let’s dive in.
Upside Down: The Other Dimension(s)
When El and the boys reach out to their science teacher, Mr. Clarke, to explain how how they'd access another dimension, if one existed, he gives the famous Acrobat-Flea analogy.
Though a nice and simple explanation, the explanation is incorrect to a degree. Why is it that objects in the same frame of reference follow different laws? Paul Steinhardt, a theoretical physicist, cleared this up in an interview with Business Insider.
The acrobat walking along the tightrope is huge compared to the thickness of the skinny rope! So, she sees the rope as a one-dimensional line; she can only move back and forth along this surface. She never walks around the circular direction of the rope, "partly because she'd fall off, but mostly because she's too big for it," Steinhardt said. But a flea walking on that same rope could not only walk back and forth, but also around the rope. The flea could also crawl down the side of the rope, and even underneath it.
This analogy is a reference to the String Theory, a physics theory that says there are a lot of different dimensions except the 3 dimensions we perceive, all of them curled up like little balls or strings. So, there are other dimensions where an alternate Earth exists, right? Not exactly.
These string dimensions too small to be traversed by creatures, as shown in Stranger Things, only fundamental particles have been considered able to traverse them. Thus, we need a better analogy.
There are two explanations to Will travelling to the other dimension, and the Demogorgon coming to our world. Both are quite similar. The first: as Mr. Clarke suggests, supplying enough energy could open a hole in the space-time fabric, which would allow us to access other dimensions, or even other places in our universe. This analogy works if we are talking about a worm hole, which is basically a point where the two, distant alterative worlds are squished together almost to the point of convergence. The other analogy is that using the energy we can actually travel across different timelines. However, this method has not been much talked about, and I had to take to Reddit’s r/timetravel to help me solve this mystery.
ELI5: There exist multiple worlds (multiverse) parallel to each other, and Will actually jumped from one to another due to rips in space-time created by the Hawkins Laboratory.
Great, but how do you explain the Upside-Down’s creepy resemblance to Earth and the toxic vegetation?
When we talk of multiverse, the other universes are similar to ours, however, different events have happened there. Time Travel theories usually say that the universes which are more alike in their histories exist nearby. We see in Stranger Things that the Upside Down looks almost same as the earth, with Will’s school, his forest camp, all existing there. But there are no humans, and there is a lot of toxic vegetation, some Demogorgons, and the Mind Flayer. Maybe it is an alternate reality where humans vanished due to some reason, and the Mind Flayer took over. There are hell lot of ways to imagine what might have happened, and that is the beauty of Stranger Things: With each episode, it gives us a lot of theories to think about and discuss.