Entanglement and the Passing of a Life
On Wednesday night, my partner and I had plans to drive to see a loved one who was seriously ill in hospital. Uncle Dan, whom I had only recently come to know, was diagnosed with end stage cancer. I met Uncle Dan a few years ago, and I instantly liked him. He was an exquisite listener, with a curious mind that constantly fed his nimble brain with new ideas and concepts. Sadly, he left earth too soon for everyone he touched.
It was during his palliative care that I was privileged to get to know Uncle Dan even better. I learned that he was fascinated with recent discoveries in quantum physics, such as entanglement theory and time dilation. On one particular afternoon, while we sat beneath a beneath a majestic pine tree shortly after he had received his first radiation therapy, we chatted about the subject. It is one of the many areas that Uncle Dan and I shared a fascination – along with the lovable foibles of Volkswagens.
Uncle Dan knew the end was near. I had seen him enough over the past year to witness him pass through the stages of dying as described by Kubler-Ross. I saw him, over a year ago, cry and express worry about dying. Now, as we sat under the pine tree, it was clear he had reached not only a stage of acceptance but excitement. I have worked in health care for nearly two decades, working with people with brain cancer, traumatic brain injuries, ALS, and other terminal diseases, but I have never seen anyone speak about dying like Uncle Dan. He weaved in his understanding of time dilation and entanglement theory with his readiness for a new journey that most certainly was not terminal.
As we sat under the pine tree, he took a long drag on a Peter Jackson and said, “I am really looking forward to dying.” I must admit, I was taken aback. Then he said, “I am convinced that when I die, my atoms get recycled and I will become something else – maybe not even of this galaxy”. His enthusiasm for the subject of afterlife from a quantum mechanical model was infectious. I too was reorganizing my thinking of afterlife from a Christian model to that of a “matter model.” If matter can never be destroyed, it stands to reason, as Carl Sagan put it, “we are all made of star stuff”.
Entanglement theory was first proposed by, non other than, Albert Einstein and colleagues. Einstein and his colleagues wrote a paper which described the effect of subatomic particles on each other. They wrote about the effect when particles such as electrons or photons from neighboring atoms interacted with each other, they affected the energy or spin of the neighboring subatomic particle. Einstein called this effect “Spooky Action at a Distance”. To the day he died, he was convinced that there was something wrong with the calculations of quantum physics and as such this effect of particles effecting each other was inexplicable and possibly a major flaw in quantum physics.
Many years later, and numerous experiments, have proven that when a subatomic particle comes near another subatomic particle, its energy or spin is forever changed. The most amazing part is that the distance does not matter. In other words, you take two atoms, place them near each other, and then separate them, the spin of the electrons or vibration of the photons is, forever connected or entangled. This is indisputable.
So, what does this mean for all of us left on the third rock from the sun, missing Dan? Perhaps, we are all entangled with him? We must be. Everyone close to him is now entangled with him. Wherever he is now, we are vibrating and resonating with him. I am sure if you were ever touched by Dan, when you sit quietly, and listen to your subatomic vibrations, you can feel him. He is not really gone – he has imbued his vibrational energy on us.
Anytime we miss Dan, we can always connect with him. I trust that he is out there, as much as he is in here, continuing, as Inger put it, “committed to make the world a better place, everyday”.
Godspeed Uncle Dan.