Existence is an interesting creature. Seeping into modern science, especially popularized in comic books and storylines, possibly hinted at in ancient religions and mythologies, and located in at least half a dozen other places, is the concept of “more” to the cosmos. The following are a few terms I’ve stumbled into. Definitions of some fluctuate on occasion or from one person to another (a few have been broken down further or added upon by those same people), but these are the ones I feel necessary for a general understanding of the layers of the omniverse (for omniverse definition, scroll to the bottom):
*Please note: this is not agreement nor disagreement with the beliefs, postulations or inferences of different religions.
First we start with a few terms of small areas found within a universe:
Planet – a world (e.g. Earth, Mars, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, etc). This term is still in flux, as evidenced by Pluto getting downgraded. Ever since then, debate has roared and discoveries have been made to leave an accurate definition of “planet” questionable at best.
Solar System (or Star System) – generically, this is a star (e.g. the sun) and the planets (and other objects) in its orbit
Galaxy – a group of stars and their systems held together by the gravity of their combined mass. Our galaxy is the Milky Way.
Galaxy Group and Galaxy Cluster – multiple galaxies grouped within a given region inside the universe. We are part of the “Local Group” (along with the Andromeda Galaxy and Triangulum Galaxy) within the Virgo Supercluster within the Laniakea Supercluster.
Universe – This is as big as it gets for most people (and it is BIG), despite the fact that the universe used to be a lot smaller than we currently recognize it as (it used to be the “all-encompassing” galaxy we live in). Essentially the universe expands infinitely outward.
- We “all” agree that the universe ultimately is finite. We just don’t agree on why or on what lies “beyond.” (See religious beliefs, Big Bang theories, scientific postulations [especially theoretical, usually tied to quantum mechanics, string theory, wormholes, black holes, white holes, etc…]).
Multiverse (sometimes called Parallel Worlds) – A conglomeration of universes that can or do interact with each other. Multiple universes “form” when at least two possibilities can play out at any given opportunity. Each possibility will play out but in a different one of these universes. In order to actually access “the multiverse,” intraversal travel is necessary.
Every single action we make has its equal and opposite possibility. I could have misspelled every single one of these words individually and as a whole, and in other universes, I did. Why? Because for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction. For every action or non-action, there are a whole spectrum of possible other ways things can play out.
In one universe I might post an article that goes viral, while in another one I died of cancer fifteen years ago. Often multiverses are presented where only key differences in history cause separate universes, such as Hitler winning World War II, Genghis Khan dying at birth, Judaism/Christianity/Islam never forming, or a failure to create the internet.
In comics, characters often travel to alternate worlds, meet doppelgangers and mess with time itself, but multiverses are not usually the whim of a person trying to escape guilt (“it doesn’t matter what I do because ‘I’ in a different universe chose to do something else”). Multiverses are an actual theory of theoretical (go figure) physics. If you don’t like the idea of multiverses even in stories, don’t blame me, maybe blame Schrödinger.
Megaverse – Much like multiverses, megaverses are a collection of multiverses that experience interactions between/across their universes. Where multiverses involve multiple universes following different paths, megaverses involve multiverses that follow different paths. How does this work?
When universes interact, which theoretical physics says they already do and can, some of the events take place as an interaction across, or even “outside of,” the multiple universes. Basically, these are decisions made throughout the multiverse itself (as opposed to within specific universes inside that multiverse). These intraversal decisions and interactions played out differently in a different multiverse, or a “parallel multiverse.”
Megaverses are the result of the ability of multiverses to be reached and to interact with each other. In the comic book world, this would be like Marvel characters interacting with DC characters – they don’t exist in the exact same world/universe/multiverse (because they legally can’t), so if they interacted, it would involve travel between multiverses.
To actually access the megaverse requires intra-multiversal travel, so the logistics are difficult.
Hyperverse – You notice the progression of “-verses” so far? One step up is the interaction of lesser -verses with each other, and this could hypothetically go up and up and up until there are no more -verses to reach (see Omniverse), but there’s no logic or value in trying to divide (or merge?) them further. The possibility of even theoretically reaching a level further up than a megaverse is almost hilariously laughable. After megaverses, you basically get massive momentum as you move up and up and up the levels of -verses, you’re getting a synergy that feeds on itself. This region of hyper-progression is what’s known as the hyperverse, and its characteristics are mostly pointless to explore for two reasons: 1). it follows the pattern that multiverses and megaverses follow; and 2). the interactions of each level quite quickly become fairly unfathomable.
Omniverse – When we think the universe is BIG, the omniverse – is A-L-L (bigger than BIG, bigger than HUGE, bigger than ordinary ALL)! No deity, story, organization, matter, time, concept, theory, continuum, anti-diety, anti-story, anti-organization, anti-matter, anti-time, etc., exists outside the omniverse, because there is no “outside.” The omniverse encompasses everything. There are no walls or boundaries to some vast nothingness beyond the omniverse because if such were to exist (that is, a vast nothingness), it too would be part of the omniverse. Chaos, Order, Existence and non-existence all wrapped into one. Time, un-time, anti-time, continua and anti-continua, matter, anti-matter, etc… The omniverse is everything, and the absence of everything, and the mirror images and the mirror images of the mirror images. If anyone ever escapes the omniverse (which is factually impossible and unfactually impossible), congratulations.
This, ultimately, is what the Greek term “Chaos” referred to: a vast, all-encompassing conglomeration of madness in which everything resides, and for which there is no “outside.” The omniverse is “pan,” meaning “all.”