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Ask Julia: Alternate Timeline vs. Alternate Dimension

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By Julia Crumpleman

Today’s question comes from Doris:

Dear Julia, what’s the difference between an alternate timeline and an alternate dimension?  I keep hearing it on the news, but they don’t explain it very well, and nothing on the internet helps me.  Are they different from parallel universes?  Thank you kindly.

Ah, that’s a tricky one, Doris.  I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t quite understand it all myself.  Dr. Amazing has a web-series that tries to explain all about the multiverse and the space-time continuum, but most of it flies over my head.  (It also doesn’t help that Dr. Amazing seems to only speak in eight-syllable words when discussing physics, but that’s another thing entirely.)

But I do know enough that I think can help.  Basically, alternate timelines exist within our universe while alternate dimensions/parallel universes (which are the same thing more or less) are not our universe.  An alternate timeline is when some event in history went a different way which altered the course of our universe.

For instance, Hellena was just in the news recently, and she’s an alternate timeline version of Titana.  In Hellena’s timeline, Napoleon had conquered all of Europe and drove the Amazons into Hades.  Then, she sacrificed herself to save her people and became possessed by demons (hence the horns, red skin, and impractical clothing).  One of Titana’s adventures brought her to this timeline, and somehow Hellena followed her to our timeline.  Hellena can’t return to her world unless our timeline is changed to resemble hers, which is another difference between the two.

Alternate dimensions can exist completely on their own.  They run by themselves, and without a portal generator, we can’t change their universes.  Think of one as being about space and the other being about time.  It can get tricky sometimes, I know, since alternate dimensions can act almost exactly like alternate timelines, but it’s really about self-sustainability.  Apparently, there’s some variation between alternate dimensions and parallel universes, but then we’re delving into the deep, deep stuff.  I recommend reading some of Dr. Amazing’s books for further illumination.

Happy trails, Doris!