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Narrative Quantum Cosmology in Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen


Twentieth-century drama has made the stage a site for reflecting on science. Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen, considered by many as one of the most striking contributions to “science plays,” portrays the elusive yet crucial short meeting of the two pillars of quantum physics, Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, in the autumn of 1941. The play employs ‘real’ scientists as characters that recurrently refer to and explain their scientific ideas such as uncertainty and complementarity, recognized as the Copenhagen Interpretation. Adopting the approach of possible worlds theory, this article analyses the concept of ‘possible worlds’ as projected in Copenhagen in light of the idea that physics itself has proposed a proliferation of parallel universes (multiverse). In fact, our main thesis is that the play offers an alternate history and brings about a myriad of counterfactuals that are tested as “drafts.”