Essay by Malini Gupta, as provided by Jack N. Waddell
Photography by Eleanor Leonne Bennett
“Professor Gupta,” Dr. Cowen says, voice raised. Had she been speaking? “I’m afraid you must make a decision.”
My undergraduate quantum physics students might have thought it grimly funny, this doctor observing me and expecting an answer, forcing me into one state or another. But of course this notion stinks of a Copenhagen perspective, and that sours the joke as much as the circumstances.
The ventilator hisses, pops, and then hisses again with higher overtones. Its grating rhythm keeps Javier’s blood oxygenated. His face is barely visible beneath the tubes that run into his mouth and nose.
“I hope–” Dr. Cowen hesitates. Her eyes jump to objects in the room, a sad plastic fern, a prism sticker attached to the window glass, the rainbow the sticker casts onto my husband. She looks anywhere but at me.
“I hope you are not letting your theories unduly influence your decision.” Her words spill from her mouth like sweets spilling from a piñata. “I have read your book, Professor. Despite your impressive longevity, you must recognize that it proves nothing.”
How many Drs. Cowen are saying these words just now, throughout state space? There are better than ten to the eightieth power baryonic particles in the universe, each one right now emitting or absorbing photons, flipping their spins, changing energy states. An unfathomable number of quantum events occurs in each moment, and each splits the quantum wave function of the universe. My undergraduates would say that each split of the world’s wave function splits the world in twain, making a pair of worlds that could never touch again, that evolve independently from that point on. This is wrong, but only in its semantics. It has been happening since time itself started.
To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Summer 2012 collection.
Dr. Dhana Gupta is a theoretical physicist at the University of Michigan, where she studies loop quantum gravity. She formally obtained her PhD in physics from Cambridge in 1950, after she had been publishing work in quantum mechanics for thirty years.
Jack N. Waddell is a Southern writer, physicist, and educator. He and his wife live in Arkansas, where he enriches young minds, but only to reactor-grade levels. He is immortal so far.
Eleanor Leonne Bennett is a 16 year old internationally award winning photographer and artist who has won first places with National Geographic, The World Photography Organisation, Nature’s Best Photography, Papworth Trust, Mencap, The Woodland trust and Postal Heritage. Her photography has been published in the Telegraph, The Guardian, BBC News Website and on the cover of books and magazines in the United States and Canada. Her art is globally exhibited , having shown work in London, Paris, Indonesia, Los Angeles, Florida, Washington, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Canada, Spain, Germany, Japan, Australia and The Environmental Photographer of the Year Exhibition (2011) amongst many other locations.Follow us online: