Twin Paradox (Part I)


At 8.00 am, UK time, the voice of the mother reached the twins. For the inexperienced observer, a mirror situated in the middle of the room would not change the sight of the two young men getting out of bed. Genetic coincidence, the same house, the same school, and all the factors that shape a person played a role in this, but in quite an unusual way. After all, Albert and Isaac were quite different from each other.

The moment the zygote containing both of them had split into two, they stopped being the same, due simply to the impenetrability of their bodies. They could never be in the same place at the same time. Ever. From that first moment, the variation of nutrients in different points of her mother’s womb made them unique and distinct. The alikeness between them was actually something learned.

From the moment their parents first talked to the twins, they always told them they were different: they would go through different experiences, listen to teachers who would explain they were different, and date girls who would swear they were different. As everyone had insisted so much on how different they should be, the only way the twins could be independent from what other people said and thought, was to be as similar to each other as possible. So they unconsciously tried to act the same while they were together, and then lived completely unrelated lives when they separated.

That morning, after having identical breakfasts and exchanging equally incomprehensible monosyllables with their mother, they left the house taking opposite paths. They both knew what the other was up to, and they both knew they didn’t want each other’s company.

Isaac had just gone through a break-up, and for him nothing made sense. I don’t want to say that there wasn’t anything in the world he could relate to. No, not at all. What I mean is that nothing, doing nothing, being nothing, made complete sense to him. That empty silence filled him and fulfilled him. He just longed for the day to consume itself until he could go back to bed and sleep, not to feel, not to do, not to be. It was the exhaustion of just being there during his waking life that got him tired at the end of the day, and gave him a peaceful sleep, free of painful dreams.

This was surprisingly easy for him to do. As long as nothing posed a challenge, as long as nothing was unexpected and his body didn’t have to react to any stimulus, he was just fine. He looked for a quiet coffee place and sat there, his back towards the clock, friend and enemy at the same time.

There was a strange beauty in the normally ugly streets. He was there, contemplating them with no rush or urgency. His sight wasn’t going to change in hours, so he could appreciate colours he wouldn’t normally see, faces he would ignore, gestures that would remain invisible.

At some point, he realized it was dark already. It all had happened so slowly he hadn’t realized how much the streets had changed. It was only when the street lights switched on, that he turned around and faced the clock, marking 6.40 pm, UK time, same time for UK time zone.

He was fortunately late for dinner, and he rushed towards home, getting there at 7.00 pm. UK time, same time for UK time zone, considering the watches are perfectly synchronized with Greenwich official time.

At the other side of the city, Albert aimed for a productive day, and opened his physics book at the library. Now, if you wonder why a person would wake up at 8 am on a Saturday to study physics outside the exam period, and you can only think of one reason, that’s the one. So he needed to learn something, at least the words that would make him sound like he knew something.

Among all the concepts that didn’t catch his fragile attention, the entropy stood out as something more tangible. Entropy, the measure of disorder or homogeneity, of those things getting more messy and more mixed in our life. Entropy as the measure of how fast things get mixed, how fast first love happens, how fast a relationship breaks up. That he could understand.

He didn’t wait to learn the applications or implications of the concept. The moment he grasped slightly what entropy was, he couldn’t wait longer, and he ran with that certainty to Suzy’s place. He looked at the streets, almost with the same attention that at the same time his brother Isaac was looking at them. They saw the streets in the same way, but for different reasons. Isaac couldn’t stand being anywhere else, Albert would have never forgiven himself being anywhere else.

Suzy opened the door and invited him to enter. He opened his notebook. She opened his shirt. And in a minute there were no notebooks, no clothes, and no one else in the world. Their skins on the couch, the hands on the shoulders, the foreheads together. So many things happening, and yet for a minute no one made a move.

Second part and scientific rationale coming next week.

Picture: Public Domain Images – Time Is Running Out, License CC0 1.0 


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