January 2009

The Einstein-Rosen Bridge

January 31, 2009 12:55

 When you sell and repair instruments for a living, you see it all:

-- the violin that was knocked off the kitchen table (snacking while practicing is not recommended)

-- the violin that was attacked by the family cat (why yes, it does resemble a scratching post!)

-- the cello that got landed on, and smashed into many smaller pieces, after tripping over the phone cord (people still have phones with cords on them?)

 But this one, for its sheer nuttiness and Einstein-Rosen implications, takes the cake. Bear with me here, because it takes a little explaining....

  So a friend and client calls me in a panic one Thursday afternoon (for those keeping score, that's January 22). At the community orchestra rehearsal the previous night, something happened to her bridge -- the one that I made for her about a month previously.

 "So, what seems to be the trouble?"

 "Well, I was tuning my viola and the bridge flew off, and I couldn't find it. "

 Excuse me?

 "Your bridge flew off?"


 So here's the details: she had been late to reherasal, and upon taking her viola out of the case, found that the pegs had let go from the cold in her car and the warmth in the rehearsal room. In tuning the viola back up, the bridge (which was apparently now sitting at an angle, not having the strings to keep it straight) was squeezed by the tension of the strings coming back up and catapulted away from her viola. This isn't the first time I've seen this phenomenon -- in one or two careless moments when tuning up an instrument in the shop, I've had it happen myself, with the same reaction every time: "Jeez, that was stupid!", followed by looking on the floor for the inadvertent missile. (Don't try this at home, kids. The force of the strings and tailpiece slamming down onto the body of the instrument can cause all sorts of nasty damage. This is a public service announcement.) Which brings me back to...

 "You couldn't find it?"

 "No! I had everyone in the orchestra looking with me, and we couldn't find it. Can you make me another one -- today?"

 "Okay, bring it over and I'll see what I can do."

 So a few minutes later, in walks the victim, case in hand. Coincidentally, another customer is right behind her. She opens the case and takes out the viola (remember this!), and I look it over briefly. Fortunately, no other damage, just a missing bridge -- okay, this can be done without too much trouble, although I'll have to work fast to get the bridge done before the end of the day. She puts the viola back in the case, goes to get a cup of coffee, and I turn to the next customer.

 So now we get to the kooky part. After the other customer leaves, I go back to the case and open it. As I do so, I hear a woody-sounding klink!, and onto the viola drops... the bridge. Sitting there, eyes looking up at me innocently. I use the word literally -- the bridge dropped onto the viola. And it started me thinking...

 Was there a cosmic significance here? Had I just proven the existence of wormholes, seeing this small piece of wood fall out of the sky (or at least the ceiling)? Had I discovered... the Einstein-Rosen Bridge?

 You may scoff, or snicker at my naivete. You may say to yourself, "Obviously, the bridge simply flew into her case, which was probably sitting right next to her anyway". But consider these facts:

  1.  Her viola case was across the room from where she was sitting, and when I say across the room, I mean a good 30 feet(!) away.
  2. She (along with the rest of the orchestra) searched everywhere for the bridge, including her case, at least according to witnesses.
  3. No one saw the bridge sailing through the air, nor did it manage to hit anyone in the violin sections, who were in between the viola and the case.

 So my explanation (and I'm sticking to this) is that the Einstein-Rosen Bridge entered a wormhole somewhere in the rehearsal room, and the mouth of that wormhole was in the front office of my shop. You could call it an extension of string theory.


P.S. The happy result, of course, is that viola and bridge were reunited, she didn't have to spend 3 hours in Metuchen waiting for a bridge, and I didn't have to charge her for a new one, so everyone came out right in the end.


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