The Brown Haired Girls

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The Brown Haired Girls
Professor Erik Strom swung gently in his hammock mentally debriefing the introductory lecture he had finished half an hour before. When he had first been asked to introduce a lecture series on quantum physics he had been less than enthusiastic, but as low man on the tenure pole he really had little choice. Now, after the first class he was having second thoughts. Serving up subject matter that was new and counter intuitive changed the atmosphere of the lecture hall. His students had leaned forward, focusing their attention on him and not on their tablets and cell phones. He had not seen a single student making a phone call and, after the strident sound of the first incoming call, there had been no more interruptions.
Erik, Dr. S. to his students, had selected his material with care and tried to present it in a way that would ignite the interest of those listening. He had chosen to speak about quantum entanglement in his first lecture for two reasons. The “spookiness” of entanglement was enough to catch the imagination of any curious student and it illustrated just how counter-intuitive the quantum world was. Plus he could demonstrate entanglement right there in the lecture hall and point out how it might become important in computers, security and transportation in the future.
After some introductory remarks he had used three sheets of polarized film to illustrate just how quirky things quantum could be. First he demonstrated that two sheets of film with the polarization at right angles to each other blocked the passage of any light, a demonstration that most of his students had seen before in their high school physics class. When he held a third sheet at 45 degrees between the first two his students could see that once again light passed through the filters. His explanation that a photon passing through a polarized film held diagonally is polarized both vertically and horizontally at the same time and has a 50/50 chance of being vertical or horizontal seemed to be accepted by most, albeit with some reluctance.
Using the Aspect apparatus named after Alain Aspect whose early work with entanglement had been groundbreaking, Erik had demonstrated the entanglement of calcium atoms across the the lecture platform. He then spoke at length about the progress of this “action at a distance” leading his listeners carefully, step by step, from entanglement at a distance measured in meters to entanglement from one side of the Milky Way Galaxy to the other. His comment that, “We have not yet tested entanglement across galactic distances.”, did not draw the laughs he expected, but after a few seconds a murmur of quiet laughter swept through the hall.
There had been few questions from his audience. That was not unexpected. Erik knew how difficult it was to formulate a question when everything about the subject seemed to contradict one's experiences in the physical world. The questions would come later when the young minds had dealt with quantum ideas for a time.
There had been one comment. The attentive, brown haired coed in the second row had raised her hand and said, “This is like Alice in Wonderland. It just gets curiouser and curiouser. Things are not what they seem. Wouldn't it be funny if entanglement got easier over long distances?”
As Erik thought again about the class, the coed's comment stuck in his mind. Early on entanglement had been demonstrated over distances measured in centimeters with complicated apparatus that used lasers to control photons. Then, success had grown almost exponentially linking first hundreds, then thousands and then millions of particles over increasingly long distances. What if distance was not a problem, but instead offered more ways for entanglement to express itself. An interesting thought, unexpected from a second year student.
With that thought in mind, lulled by the swaying hammock, Erik drifted off to sleep,
Erik was not the only one to fall asleep. On another hammock, an identical hammock, on another planet, an identical planet, there was another Erik – an identical Erik. The two Eriks lived in worlds that were entangled, entangled over a distance so vast that it could only be described as being the distance between opposite ends of an infinite universe. Conversely the two worlds were so close that the diameter of a hydrogen atom would seem infinitely large when compared to the distance separating them. They were unimaginably distant and unimaginably close.
The two worlds were linked. Every particle of each world was linked inexorably to its counterpart in the other. Every atom of Erik's being was identical in both worlds and each atom was linked to its twin. Each Erik had his own thoughts, but the thoughts differed very little.
Of course the brown haired girl also lived in both worlds. She became intrigued with all things quantum and pursued a Ph.D. in quantum physics, but never completed it. Her thesis proposing linked worlds was found unacceptable. Reluctant to modify it, and discouraged, she dropped out of school and taught physics and astronomy as a part-time instructor at a community college in New Jersey.
She never gave up her belief that large, distant objects could be entangled.. Proof eluded her. Neither she, nor anyone else. found evidence to support her belief. She continued to conduct research and at age 43 earned the gratitude of astronomers by using standard laboratory equipment designed to detect entanglement to parse the long lost, 25 watt signal from the distant Voyager satellite out of the cacophony of background radio noise. She, retired and died in her sleep at her Boca Raton home at the age of 77. Her grave marker has only her name and these words

Worlds Can Be Entangled

There are only two possibilities:
Yes or No

About the Author: 
Eighty one year old retired educator