I find it interesting to brainstorm about how a science fiction show could be scientifically accurate. I am currently watching the show “Awake” and it’s concept fascinates me. For those unfamiliar with the show, basically the protagonist (Michael Britton) was involved in a car wreck that killed his wife/son. He now lives in two realities, in one his wife is alive and in the other his son is alive. Every time he goes to sleep he wakes up in the other reality.
I am not sure if the show will ever resolve the science of the show but the idea of alternate realities and somewhat freely moving between them is incredibly interesting to me. One of the way this could be resolved in modern understanding of reality depends on two premises: our “souls” are not attached to our bodies and alternate universes exist that can be navigated between. It seems that the tragedy of the car wreck caused either neurological or psychological damage that has opened up the doorway for his “soul” (consciousness, identity, whatever…) to move across universes.
For this to be possible his soul must exist in a realm outside of the body, much like a video game player playing World of Warcraft. In fact, technology advancing to the point where we can control bodies in the physical realm via remote is not really science fiction at all. Everyday people control what they see and hear from miles away from the actual location of the event. It is within the realm of possibility that you could control a robot (or body) by remote and advanced virtual reality system from almost anywhere. Basically, The Matrix and Battlestar: Galactica touch on the issue of identity’s connection to the body and reality in a similar way as Awake.
What makes Awake different than The Matrix though is that both realities appear to be equally “real”. Somewhere within the physical realm is a switch that enables the soul to move among universes. Rick Strassman would likely say this switch exists in the pineal gland of the brain where DMT is controlled, while Rene Descartes would agree for different reasons.
Anyway, the show is fascinating and it is a fun concept to think about.
Post-Script – There certainly are a lot of ways the producers can resolve this. Britton could be dead (heaven, hell, purgatory) or in a coma or one of the realities could really be a dream, but this kind of cop out seems uninspiring, lacks creativity, and fails to challenge the audience like art has the potential to do. Falling back on some sort of deux ex machina just seems boring to me.