Einstein, Heisenberg, and Tipler

by John Walker
9th August 1995

Einstein, Heisenberg, and Tipler, after equal invariant intervals in purgatory, find themselves before the Throne of God.

As a man, they exclaim, “What did I do to merit an eternity down (brrrrr) there”?

God thought for a moment; when you're omnipresent in spacetime there's no need for haste. He turned first to Einstein.

“Albert,” he said, “you showed your species My creation in its most elegant form, law without Law. Then, inflamed by wartime passion, you urged the transformation of your discovery into a weapon of mass destruction.”

Einstein shuffled his feet and nodded subtly. He resisted the temptation to stick his tongue out. God turned His omniscient Eyes toward Heisenberg.

“Werner, you discovered that I do play dice, and you glimpsed that I have to if anything interesting's going to happen—your last words were, ‘I will ask Him why there is turbulence’. I will answer you, ‘So there can be Heisenberg’. But you stayed in Germany, Werner! You worked on a reactor for Hitler; you taught physics to brown-shirted Nazi thugs. You'll recall that my Son is Jewish.”

“Frank, Frank, Frank,” God continued, “didn't you read my book? I read yours, you know. Does the phrase ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me’ ring a bell? How about ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending’? You not only wanted to have another God before Me, you wanted to be Him. And the money, Frank…do you know how piddling an advance I got for the Bible? And you assumed causality—you Frank! You should know me better than that.”

Tipler, almost defiant, raised his head and fixed God with a cold stare. “Why are there singularities in Your universe?”

“Because there are things I don't want you to know,” God responded calmly.

Heisenberg, his dying question answered, remained silent, pondering the choices he'd made during his life on Earth.

Einstein seized the moment, “Look, Old One”, he said, “physics is local. You made it that way; I figured it out. But why is there that spooky action-at-a-distance nonlocality in quantum mechanics?”

God chuckled. Even experiencing all of spacetime at once, such events were rare. “Albert, your greatest talent has always been not finding the right answer—anybody could do that—but asking the right question. Your generation learned physics assuming I was a great watchmaker; you destroyed that notion, but most of you died off before it became evident what I was. I create abstract systems from pure information, Albert. I'm a programmer.

“Quantum nonlocality is a bug.”

God turned to Saint Peter. “Einstein and Heisenberg go to Heaven. Send Tipler to the massive rotating cylinder to try again. Next case.”

God hated these Judgement Days; he couldn't wait (to the extent that's possible for an omnipresent being) to get back to his craps game with Wotan, Jove, and Shiva. Saint Peter looked up from his infinite scroll, “Fourth Commandment: blasphemy—eternal damnation. Send in Lederman and Hawking”.

What was it about these physicists, God wondered, as they approached the Throne.