Fifty years ago Hugh Everett devised the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, in which quantum effects spawn countless branches of the universe with different events occurring in each.
The theory sounds like a bizarre hypothesis, but in fact Everett inferred it from the fundamental mathematics of quantum mechanics. Nevertheless, most physicists of the time dismissed it, and he had to abridge his Ph.D. thesis on the topic to make it seem less controversial.
Discouraged, Everett left physics and worked on military and industrial mathematics and computing. Personally, he was emotionally withdrawn and a heavy drinker.
He died when he was just 51, not living to see the recent respect accorded his ideas by physicists.
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