Copenhagen House

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I was once invited to a post-graduate residence which was based upon Copenhagen House architecture. For this style of construction each building has seven floors, a cellar and foundations which are designed to cater for the number of residents expected! This wasn’t the only strange thing. There were no doors, windows, lifts or stairs but each floor had its own mailbox.

The ground floor is always occupied by a Warden but there is an option for cohabitation. There are only two possibilities: yes or no. The Warden is either on his own or with a wife. There is only room for two and no more. I was told that, in the grand scheme of things, the Warden normally lives there alone but, where we live, we mostly see the houses where he is partnered by his wife.

Each floor has a set number of apartments with their own addresses which are based upon Lambda. Each apartment has at least one bedroom but some have three. Like the Warden’s quarters every bedroom has the capacity to receive two residents but they must be from different groups. If that is not a different gender then they must (at least) spin in different directions (just trying to be pc here!). If a bedroom is not full there will be a vacancy and that can lead to some very interesting chemistry.

The Warden allocates rooms from the bottom upwards adhering to the Lambda list which sometimes includes halves - it was as though somebody had chosen a convention before they really understood what they were dealing with! On the third floor there was a Sub-Warden called Madelung who did the allocations from there to the top; he changes things around a bit.

The cellar is full of staff and these determine the name of the house. Every house has the same number of staff and residents so there is no advantage in moving house for that reason. Once the house allocation is set, the numbers of staff remain fixed. This doesn’t apply to the post grads though and those on the higher floors are often enticed to escape.

During the night all the inhabitants are ‘grounded’ and must sleep in their own bedrooms; it is the easiest way to find everybody (when they need to collect the rent). During the day things start to go crazy and it is hard to know where to look next. It’s like National Lampoon’s Animal House!

All the post grads have split personalities; they change their sex at the drop of a hat and can appear to be in (at least) two places at once. They are gregarious creatures and they like to visit other apartments and other floors but, because they do not have stairs or lifts, they just appear (don’t ask – nobody can tell me how this happens). They can even tunnel into the cellar but they are very quickly turned round by the staff and sent back.

The residents are not rude though; before they take off on a visit they send a letter to announce their arrival (that’s how the staff is ready for them). In fact, the house is constantly full of letters. Sometimes a letter arrives from outside (at the floor mailbox) and you can see that this gives a post grad some extra energy. Sometimes a particularly energetic resident will send a letter to another house.

If you need to find a post grad during the day then you will need to know where he started (i.e.2 Lambda say), what are all his possible visiting options and then find a way to make him collapse; you will then now know where he is at that instant but you will not know where he is going next!

Sometimes the post grads get amorous (and a bit corny). Whilst I was there one asked another,
“I think I must look like a left handed glove because we would make a lovely pair”.
The other answered “Look again; you now look like a right handed glove”.
“That’s OK – take a look at yourself - we still make a lovely pair”.

My head was spinning with the things I had seen. The staff seemed friendly but we were not allowed to talk to them. The post grads were changing gender, cloning into multiple copies of themselves and then just appearing from nowhere. I wanted to talk to them but they would not stay still for long enough. It was as if everybody was just waiting for a letter that would get them through the day.

Just as I thought my head was about to explode one post grad asked me “Why are you so confused – the Copenhagen Interpretation has been mainstream physics for over 90 years. This is just an alternative model”.

“Yes” I said “I know but it is hard to accept that this is happening in every atom throughout the universe during every moment of every day. That’s the crazy bit”.

“I know – get used to it or see if you can find a better model (or interpretation)”.

About the Author: 
This story is based upon an extract from Tony Goldsmith’s next book which he expects to publish next year. This again encourages readers to participate in the process of science. His first book, ‘How to Win a Nobel Prize’, self-published during 2017, focuses upon Space-time, particularly space and time speeds.