The Last Physicist

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“...these arguments should make it clear why there is a quantum limit even across parallel worlds and why, in that case, Everett’s ‘many worlds’ hypothesis can only be accepted in the case of a single, central reference point. This allows the smooth functioning of the mechanism he describes without the exponential number of parallel universes which it infers, thus erasing the EPR paradoxes as well as the unsettling aspects of the twin slit and polarisation experiments without reverting to the uncomfortable conclusions of the Copenhagen interpretation. Thank you.”

Phillip Godot folded his notes, removed his reading glasses, and looked up at the audience of physicists that sat in front of him, neatly arrayed in a tweed semicircle in the University of Louvain’s Erasmus conference hall. There was a pointed silence, broken only by a low cough that fluttered out of the left side of the amphitheatre and bounced around the walls for a few seconds. Professor Godot pursed his lips and waited for the response.

There were well over one hundred of the world’s better-known physicists in the crowd, but for a few minutes at least, they were tongue-tied. Finally, Gerhard Watzisnämen narrowed his bushy eyebrows and broke the silence.

“See here, Phillip, do you really mean to say that you can determine a limit across worlds?

“Yes, professor, that is exactly what I mean. You yourself, in 1991, determined the number of Everett universes by expostulating a simple exponential relationship between the number of particles in the universe and the number of time quanta, using Planck’s constant, over the roughly 40 billion years of the universe’s eventual total existence – assuming a closed universe, of course.”

“Ya, dear boy, but I found the number is very large!”

“I agree, professor, it is too large, and I have proved it by determining cross-dimensional quantum limits.” Godot sniffed a stuffy little sniff. “As I have just demonstrated.”

Peter Evans, in the back row, stood up.

“So you’re suggesting we forget the many worlds hypothosis and get back to the Copenhagen interpretation.”

“No, I’m sorry doctor Evans, I’m afraid that the Copenhagen interpretation is simply unacceptable. There is only one logical response to the dilemma, it is a single, central reference point.”

“Hang on, hang on just one minute.” It was Paula Seloratore in the front row on the left. “What exactly do you mean?”

Godot could almost hear her foot tapping. He sighed.

“Either Everett is wrong and the best we can do is Schrödinger’s magical mystical collapsing wave functions, or we simply admit my hypothesis. It’s clear, it’s a quantum diellema and there are only two possibilities: yes or no.”

“So tell me, exactly, who you consider this single observer to be.”

The room quieted down again.

“Well, I originally thought about God,” Godot replied.

There was an eruption from the left side of the room, where a small gaggle of Hungarian scientists sat.

“You mean to say that you wanted to prove God exists just so he can check up on the health of Schrödinger’s cat?” A few of the physicists chuckled, including Godot.

“Yes, well either way, the mathematics of God break down at the forty-first iteration. That only left one logical choice…. Me. It’s me. I’m the central reference point.”

A flurry of noise rose from the crowd.

“You mean to say that you’re the only person in the universe?” asked Bawrahamanapura Ghupta.

“’Fraid so,” Godot replied.

The room erupted in conversation as the physicists all turned to talk to each other in lively, animated tones. Godot stood placidly at the podium and waited.

Stephen Bellows, from Cambridge, broke out in laughter.

“Cogito ergo sum, eh Godot? Let’s see, you came up with that one back in, when was it, 1641? Was that a good year for you?”

The rest of the assemblage laughed heartily.

“So tell me,”, he continued, “why are you bothering to tell us this if your solopsism leads you to think we don’t really exist?”

Godot smiled and nodded, appreciative of the question.

“You see, professor, given that you are all the product of my own mind, in some way that I have not yet determined, I thought that you could do me a favor. My life and my research would just be a whole lot easier if...” Godot paused and took a deep breath, “well if you’d all just admit it.”

He raised his hand to still the murmurs. “I know, I know, you can’t really decide that for yourselves, but perhaps I could enable you to do so, and thus complete the one greatest discovery that has ever occurred in the annals of human (in the singular, of course) endeavor.”

The assembled crowd sat frozen, wide eyed, seemingly unable to move.

Finally, one man, it might have been one of the Hungarians, stood up slowly. “All right,” he said. “All right.” He then began to clap. He clapped alone for some seconds, until the woman on his left stood up and began to clap as well. Slowly, the assembled physicists stood, Cheers broke out.

“Brilliant!” yelled Selaratore.

“Finally,” yelled a tall blond man, “finally Phillip!”

“You’re a god, Phillip!”

Watzisnämen hobbled out of his seat and walked up to the podium as the rest of the scientists continued their standing ovation.

“Ah, dear boy, how right you are. It was a brilliant piece of deductive reasoning and,” he turned to the crowd and raised his hand, muting their applause, “and I, for one, am glad to be a part of it all!”

“Hear, hear!” shouted some of them, “Thank you, Phillip, for having made it all possible!”

Phillip Godot smiled and nodded at the clapping, cheering figures in the room – suddenly bored with them all. He yawned deeply and barely noticed as they all began to fade away into nothingness.

About the Author: 
Kevin Dolgin is an associate professor of management at the Sorbonne (Paris), an entrepreneur, a musician, and a writer. He has been published in numerous literary journals. His book of literary travel vignettes, "The Third Tower Up From the Road" was published in 2010 by Santa Monica Press.