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Michael Avagliano

The Einstein-Rosen Bridge

January 31, 2009 at 7:55 PM

 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.


From Ray Randall
Posted on January 31, 2009 at 10:34 PM

 Sounds to me like the bridge DID fly through the air and in a million to one chance landed in her case and was stuck in the top hidden behind the silk in front of one of the bows. Or behind a bow. Simply because no one remembered seeing it fly doesn't mean it didn't take to the air. On the other hand our house in Ct. was sort of haunted and we saw some really weird things happen there so you never know.

From Patricia Baser
Posted on January 31, 2009 at 10:52 PM

Could you possibly also have the soundpost that mysteriously vanished from one of my student's cello? 

From Autumn Williams
Posted on January 31, 2009 at 11:39 PM
Wow... But flying bridges aren't a new thing in my world. While tuning my new violin (given to me by my city's mayor) the bridge took a leap and "flew away". Oh yeah, I found the bridge, but the little part that curves under the bridge, well, I didn't find it. Now I have a very unique bridge. Unique indeed. I wonder where that piece is...
From Bethany Morris
Posted on February 1, 2009 at 1:32 AM

String theory.  On a viola.  Get it? ;)

Posted on February 1, 2009 at 1:38 AM


proves two things...

  1. fact can be stranger than fiction
  2. you are honest...could have charged her for a second bridge

From Bart Meijer
Posted on February 1, 2009 at 12:15 PM

Watch out: in a moment, a manifestation out of the blue will arise of Podolsky.

From David Russell
Posted on February 1, 2009 at 3:16 PM

Wow. I wonder if we could persuade the Einstein-Rosen bridge to transport the contents of the vault in a Swiss Bank into my bank account? Hmmm... reason to study physics! :-)

From Nicholas Tavani
Posted on February 1, 2009 at 3:44 PM

It could be that there are pairs of bridges and anti-bridges popping in and out of existence all the time.

From Michael Avagliano
Posted on February 1, 2009 at 4:28 PM

That's a great hypothesis, Nicholas! It could then follow that there are anti-tailpieces (with fine tuners that turn counterclockwise), anti-pegs (with heads on the opposite side), etc., etc. It could be a whole new branch of instrument physics...


From Anthony Barletta
Posted on February 1, 2009 at 5:24 PM

String wormholes = no more commuting to rehearsals! 

From sharelle taylor
Posted on February 1, 2009 at 10:44 PM

It explains odd socks: Just think - people are taking their clothes off the line and they notice they no longer have a pair for that sock they just took out.  they look everywhere but the partner never is located. The awe inspiring humour of the worm hole is that it simultaneously messed with their memory - so they don't recall that they never did own a pair of socks like that in the first place.

From Rex Whitehead
Posted on February 2, 2009 at 1:57 AM

I'm glad that Podolsky didn't get entirely neglected. 

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on February 2, 2009 at 4:38 AM


bless you Sharelle.  Now I understand my life dilemna.  I have an almost infinite supply of iodd socks.   My studnets all notice that I have none that match and buy me new sets on a regualr basis. These are now all odd.  Clearly there is a one legged violininst  in another dimension with a smile on his face.



From Dimitri Musafia
Posted on February 2, 2009 at 12:13 PM

Some people have odd socks, I have odd violin blankets! When I cut out the material to make a violin case, I also cut out the part that will become the violin blanket too. That way I'm sure the color of the blanket will match the interior perfectly. One case interior includes one blanket. Simple.

And yet, quite mysteriously, additional violin blankets materialize. I notice when in the box where they are temporarily stored I find one that's in a slightly different tint and I can't fit it with any case that's ready to be delivered. That means it's been there too long, thus was made extra.

If I send a case off forgetting the blanket, an irate e-mail will be the obvious consequence. So, I'm not forgetting them when I deliver a case. My box of "orphan blankets" as I call them now has a population of about 30, starting from last time I checked which was a couple years ago.

Hmmm. Spontaneous generation, perhaps?  

From Patty Rutins
Posted on February 2, 2009 at 8:56 PM

Rather like wire coat hangers.  If you put two wire coat hangers in a closet, leave them a while and then check back later, you often find a closet full!

Bridges, socks, violin blankets, and coat hangers...

And my dad told me yesterday that IEEE had an article about "teleportation" -- something about transferring the state of an atom to another atom at a distance.

It would certainly explain a lot.

From Matthew Kavanaugh
Posted on February 3, 2009 at 8:15 PM

An Einstein-Rosin Bridge?

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