Entangled Hearts 1
Walter was looking out the window when the autocraft lifted off. The gentle hum of the hydrogen engines was almost soothing him into sleep as he departed. To fly from the city planning office home was a comfortable 15 min flight; just enough to read a book chapter or a blog entry. But today he didn’t feel like reading, he felt more like admiring the strange landscape below. Ever since cars didn’t need streets to get around, the space between the buildings had become so alive. Parts of the city looked almost like a jungle, with only the bigger intersections and private landing pads remaining as open asphalt planes. What an incredible waste of space the earthbound transportation had caused in the past. After the shift to flying cars, however, the streets were revamped into lush green areas to walk through. City planning, his job for the last 40 years, had become strange ever since the autocraft took over. With absolutely no problem implementing self-driving and practically zero emissions due to hydrogen powered engines, the automated air transportation reshaped society in the blink of an eye. Naturally, his job changed quite drastically. From designing proper intersections for pedestrians, he moved to transforming intersections into landing pads, and repurposing streets into parks and recreational areas. It was a very nice change for everybody really. Taking the cars to the sky, so that living things could roam freely was an optimal solution. Breezing by his neighbour building, apartment complex 1, Walter wondered if these mega structures were still necessary. If anybody could fly anywhere, almost for free, why not just live on top of a mountain? Oh yeah, nature was to be preserved too… What a bummer he thought. Having a James-Bond-villainesque den protruding from the mountain would have been quite something.
Just a bit further, his building, apartment complex 2, stood there majestically with its 1.5 kilometers height and hundreds of landing pads scattered all around its outside.
No human would be able to navigate through the swarm of autocrafts landing and launching like bees from their hive. The way the autos communicated with each other, which auto should go first and which one last, was completely unknown. Their strategy was iterated through a machine learning algorithm, which yielded a result no human could understand. It just worked. And that it did phenomenally. As he touched down at the landing pad closest to his flat, he saw an advertisement from the new telecommunications company QuantaCom. Apparently, they had figured out a way to entangle two quantum particles in two different phones, so that the two owners could have a conversation without worrying about the delay due to the limited speed of light. But then again, who ever worried about that? Stowing the idea in his mind under “cool but completely unnecessary”, Walter moved on towards his place. He opened the door by passing a scanner that read his specific brain waves and entered his place to walk straight into the living room. A big open space greeted him with a large monitor on the wall to the right, a small bar with two bar stools to the left and a huge window instead of a back wall. His sofa was as he had left it, turned towards the window to watch the city and the autos move around. For him, a bustling city was one of those things he could watch forever, like a campfire or a waterfall. Sitting down on the sofa, he observed the other apartment complex and thought: ‘hmpf, you bee-have like a bee-hive’. Chuckling silently to himself, he felt his mind going back to the advertisement he had just read. Quantum entanglement huh? Communication faster than the speed of light? Wasn’t that impossible? That must violate at least a few dozen fundamental laws of physics. Or maybe just the one that says: nothing can go faster than light. Anyways, maybe it was all just a hoax to trick people into buying new phones. There really wasn’t much development in that regard.
Walter was in his late 60s. Reaching almost half of the average life expectancy made him worry. He still couldn’t hold a relationship, with his mind constantly wondering off to different places than the here and now. The conversations in his head always seemed so much more interesting than the real-life ones. Clearly this was not very appreciated by the opposite sex, but what could he do about it? The whole point of a relationship was to feel good together, wasn’t it? So why bother trying to be someone you are not? Feeling loneliness creeping into the room, he called his friend Marcus Carter. A gifted engineer on lunar station, who worked on the latest and greatest AI developments. After just a few beeps, Carter responded. “Hi Walter, I was just about to call you!”
“Oh really? What a coincidence! Do you have something on your mind?” Walter asked.
“Nah not really. You know, I just wanted to spend some quality time with my best friend before the world is going to end. Nothing special”
“Oh yeah right. The end of the world. How could I forget. Makes my sense of loneliness feel worse and less significant at the same time,” Walter said with flattly.
Years had passed since Albert, the self proclaimed alive artificial intelligence on the moon had predicted that humans would go extinct rather soon. The end of the world used to be the thing everybody would talk about all the time. But both Walter and Carter were tired of it.
“Hmm, you know I would come over for a beer if I had the time, but you know. The moon…” said Carter from his living space on the moon. “Hey, why don’t you try this new online dating thing? What was it called? Entangled Hearts. Yeah that’s the one”
“Entangled hearts? Is it any different from the other ones you made me try? If not, no thank you.” Walter answered with disinterest.
“No, this one gets you a phone that is quantum entangled with somebody else’s phone and the catch is that the entanglement is supposed to give you a much better connection. Even if the other person is on the other side of the planet there won’t be any delay, due to the speed of light, and it will almost be as if they were standing next to you.” Marcus explained excitedly.
Clearly, he was also fascinated by the quantum entanglement stuff. However, Walter still wasn’t convinced by the idea. “But the speed of light really doesn’t seem like that big of a restriction to me. I mean the other side of the planet is far for an autocraft, but for a phone call it’s basically nothing. A beam of light could go around the planet seven and a half times in only one second. Besides, why would I want to find love on the other side of the planet. That just seems like a bad idea to begin with,” Walter insisted.
But Carter continued his case: “Well, I agree with you, but they say that somehow the connection is much more personal in this way. Maybe the electromagnetic waves in your brain are more likely to align with your counterpart if you use entangled phones?”
“You are making this stuff up right?” Walter wanted to know in a dispassionate voice, which he couldn’t keep up due to the intrigue the entanglement was causing.
“Maybe, maybe not. You as a hobby scientist know that there is only one way to find out.” Carter smirked.
“Oh you sneaky smooth talker, you got me again. Ok, I will try it.” Walter said with excited resignation. “Now what about you? How is the moon? Still dusty?”
“Oh yes. It’s so damn dusty. The dust is everywhere! In my shoes, in my hair, under my arms, between my legs. Do I need to go further?”
“Up your butt?”
“But the dust isn’t the problem. Albert keeps asking for more power. I am constantly busy feeding a machine that won’t shut up.”
“Ok, but isn’t Albert trying to avert the end of the world?” Walter insisted.
“Well yes. That’s what Albert says. More power to get a more accurate prediction of the meteorite that’s about to hit earth. Only then can the end of the world be averted.”
“So that’s a good thing?”
“Yes sure, but come on. A meteorite is going to hit earth because the sleep wake cycle of our species is somehow synchronised with the universe? Doesn’t that sound a bit too fantastic to you?” Carter said in a way that the frown on his face became audible.
“It does for sure. And I wouldn’t have believed it if it weren’t for the countless scientists who checked Alberts’ calculations. But as I understand it, the scientists of the world agree with Albert. Something needs to be done.”
“Yes I know. I’m just sceptic you know.”
“Oh yeah that. The old Marcus Carter, -don’t trust anybody you can’t drink a beer with-, type of guy.” said Walter and continued: “You know, it’s gonna be fine, and if it isn’t, there is really nothing you or anybody can do about it.”
“True that!” concluded Carter and ended the phone call with: “Thanks for the chat! And go entangle your heart with someone nice, someone to drink a beer with.”
The next day Walter woke up with the sun shining into his room. Having completely forgotten about the end of the world, since there was nothing he could do about it, he continued his life as usual, with his midlife crisis.
People had warned him of the temptations he might get, especially since he was single again. But he didn’t feel any need to pick up an extreme sport like ice vapor racing, where they used speed boat like contraptions to superheat the arctic ice and glide on the water vapor to reach incredible speeds. Walter was no fan of high speeds or extreme heights. He was more the type to buy a canvas and a bucket of paint, if only he knew how to draw. Considering what it meant to have a midlife crisis made him think that it was too much hassle and that he should rather finish his muesli and go to work now. On the ride to his office, he thought about the Entangled Hearts conversation again. He didn’t feel like doing it anymore, but he already said he would, and he really didn’t like being the one that sets out to do something one day and changes his mind the next. So he decided to order one of those phones to his office and get in touch with Entangled Hearts.
The phone arrived just 2 hours after he ordered it, which was unsurprising with drones delivering things around the clock and all the warehouses being completely automated. After unpacking the strangely large brick, he pressed the start button and the monitor came to life. Sitting at his desk feeling not the least bit guilty about working on his private life during work hours, he read the screen: Welcome to QuantCom, where the sky is the limit, not the speed of light. ‘Their marketing department is overpaid’, Walter thought silently and moved on from the welcome screen to the home screen. One of the symbols read “QuantumApps”. ‘That must be the place to get on with this Entangled Hearts business,’ he thought. He pressed the button and a variety of Apps appeared on the screen: Quantum chat, Quantum news, some other Quantum things he’d never use and then Entangled Hearts.
His finger was hovering over the button of Entangled hearts. But he was too shy to force his thumb down on the touch screen. He put the phone back into its box and stored it in his bag. The time wasn’t right.
Later that day, when he arrived back home, he needed a snack. In his fridge he found an avocado and some butter. Quickly he cut up a piece of bread and laid some sliced butter on it. Then, the avocado. With nimble fingers he prepared half of the fruit into a mash that he would pile on top of the butter. Some extra virgin olive oil is what he sprinkled over when he felt that the butter avocado taste wouldn’t be enough, and added some salt and pepper as a finishing touch. When he took a large bite, he sensed his teeth penetrating the cool smoothness of the butter, which was soon overcome by the deliberate taste of the avocado. Then, the nuttiness of the olive oil kicked in. ‘Hmm’ he thought and felt deliciously guilty for the amount of fat he just smacked on one single slice of bread.
He passed by the bar, separating his kitchen from the main living space, when he wandered over to his couch. The comfortable self-adjusting seat contraption was still pointed towards the window, as he sat down and continued to munch on his rather elaborate snack. Enjoying the view of flying cars passing by in a seemingly random yet perfectly organised manner, he found the courage to take the quantum phone out of his bag. It was a black tablet the size of a notebook, thick enough to make his copy of Moby Dick feel ashamed. The heaviness and metal casing gave him the impression that he was holding a serious piece of technology in his hands. After turning it on, he quickly went through the menus and simply pressed the button for Entangled Hearts. He knew that the only way to just do it, was to just do it and not think or hesitate again.
“Create account” it read on the screen.
‘Hmpfh. Ok, let’s do this.” he mumbled to himself.
Age: 69 ‘won’t be lying about that’; Height: 1.99m ‘Can’t tell them I am 2.01m, it’s too tall. People are gonna get scared’; Weight: ‘Just about right I’d call it’. After completing all the fields about physical traits, some more interesting questions followed.
Favourite Song: “Can’t touch this”, he typed into the field and then went on to press enter. But he didn’t. Then, he mumbled under his breath ‘Can’t touch this, duuh duh duh duh’ and shimmied with his shoulders.
Do aliens exist?: “Of course! I mean nobody has ever seen an alien yet, so how would we know? But also, the universe is just too big and we are simply not special enough. We can’t be that special, can we?”, was the question he used as an answer to that question.
Walter responded: “Hello! What a lovely voice! Are you supposed to connect me with my match from Entangled Hearts?”
The voice said: “Hmmm, no, I think I am your match.”
Walter said: “Juhu. Ahhm, I mean, ahhh: This is Walter speaking, with whom may I have the pleasure?”. ‘What a weirdo response Walt, get it together’ he thought to himself.
“Hello Walter, I am Sara. You have quite the voice yourself! How are you?” said Sara.
“Oh I am great actually, I just had a bread with butter, avocado and olive oil followed up by some teenage throwback feelings from playing the air guitar to my favourite AC/DC song. How about you?”
“Sounds nice! I’m good. Came back from work and started to play an actual guitar, but I have to admit that your air guitar sounds like more fun,” she responded in a cheerful yet teasing voice.
‘Wow, she plays the guitar. That is awesome!’ Walter thought ‘better impress her now’.
“Well, you know when I was a teenager they used to call me High Waltage.”
“Fantastic nickname” Sara chuckled “Do you have such an electrifying personality?”
“It’s possible” he stated in a flat voice “But they called me that because I got high all the time”.
The short pause that followed felt a bit uncomfortable, when suddenly the silence was broken by the hysterical laughter of Sara. Then, she said happily: “I am not sure whether that was a joke or not, but either way, you are funny!”
The two of them continued their conversation with slightly more normal topics like what they did for a living and so on. It turned out that Sara was a physics communicator, which basically meant she was a physicist that knew how to explain stuff. Walter started to become seriously intrigued by Sara, so he even asked her where she grew up, which was something he usually really didn’t care about.
Sara started to tell her story with a gentle voice: “I grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere, we had the most amazing night sky. Complete with shooting stars the milky way and…”
Walter was imagining a beautiful night sky. A dark canvas with bright dots that all seemed so close yet were incredibly far away. The universe was just so absurdly huge. What about all the other solar systems out there? Were there other life forms looking up at the night sky wondering the same, or was it just them? Humanity, a lonely speck of complex life floating through the vast ocean of nothingness that was their universe. Come to think of it, the universe was a pretty damn empty place. Everything was so far away from each other. If there was a god, he, she or it for that matter must have been pretty damn lazy when creating the place. Compared to the universe an empty box was like…
“Walter? are you still there?” asked Sara slightly concerned.
Walter felt embarrassed, again he had drifted off with his mind wandering around the universe. “Yes, yes. I’m sorry. I guess I got a bit carried away.”
“To the other end of the universe?” Sara wanted to know.
“Yeah.” Walter chuckled “Pretty much. You know, when you started to talk about the night sky I couldn’t help but wonder about how big the universe is.”
“I can relate to that, no worries.” responded Sara in a forgiving voice. It sounded a bit like him getting carried away by the universe was something she appreciated. Then she continued: “Long story short, I am a human from planet earth.”
“Thank you for the reassurance.” Said Walter in such a calm and confident voice that he hardly recognised his own words. Looking out the window into the dark night, with only a few flying cars still passing by, Walter realised that they must have been talking for hours.
“Oh wow!” he exclaimed
“We must have been talking for hours. It’s almost midnight.”
Sara responded surprised: “You are right.” then went on hurriedly: “I have to get up tomorrow, so I’ll better minimise the potential energy of my blood flow for a while.”
Walter raised an eyebrow at that. ‘reduce the potential energy of the blood flow, hmmm. Ok so potential energy is usually related to objects that fall towards earth. When a rock falls off a cliff, it stands still at first and then trades it’s potential energy, which is basically the height of the cliff times gravity times the mass of the rock, for kinetic energy, which is related to the speed of the rock while falling. If Sara wants to minimise the potential energy of her blood flow, that just means that her blood should not move against gravity. It should move horizontally instead. Aha!’ Walter responded excited: “You want to lie down and sleep?”
“That is exactly right.” said Sara proudly
“Sleep tight High Waltage, from the other end of the universe.”
With a massive grin on his face Walter replied:
“Sleep tight Sara, Human from planet earth.”