Quantum City

I don’t remember much about quantum physics, but I remember at one point we learned about something called the two-slit experiment. Basically, in this experiment you can show that a single particle can be in two different places at the same time. It doesn’t make any sense. As far as I know, nobody knows why it happens. And, to me, this was the first proof I ever had of the existence of God.

Something like this happens (or at least tries to happen) in the minds of New Yorkers every day. They try to be in two places at once. The most obvious way to see this is to notice the amount of over-commitment that occurs. Folks routinely commit to doing something when they are are already doing something else. They typically refer to it as multi-tasking, but it is really more like zero-tasking. They are trying for their mind to be in two places at once, and it just doesn’t work. But it’s okay – I can mostly shrug it off and just go on with my day, knowing that the multi-taskers will continue to do nothing while believing they’ve done something twice (or whatever it works out to).

But the more subtle form that quantum mechanics shows in everyday life in the City is when an individual walking on the street tries to both walk and stop at the same time. The stopping is typically in order to pause for a moment to figure out whether the walking is going in the right direction. A lot of times, the walker will stare at me (probably because I am staring at them) while they are pausing, and then that usually prompts them to continue on walking – as if I had caught them doing something wrong by stopping. Sometimes the stopping is due to the walker wanting to look in the window of a store (but without stopping to do so!). And sometimes it is really very simply that the walker honestly and truly wants to be walking in two different directions at the same time.

Some of you may think I am presuming to know the mind of a stop-walker. But really, this is all very easy to see once you start paying attention to it. All around me every day, folks are both walking and stopping (both figuratively and literally), and the City moves at a snail’s pace as a result.

It is a very sad time to live in New York City.

One thought on “Quantum City

  1. The two slits experiment demonstrates that very small particles are as much energy smears as particles. A solid particle could pass through just one slit, but an energy field needn’t pass through just one or the other. As with your walking and stopping, perhaps. It is not a concrete choice, but the overlap of two choices.

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