Subjective Immortality: A scene from a cafe in Rome.

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(Warning: lots of crude language ahead.)

“It’s called subjective immortality. It’s like, thousands or even millions of alternate yous die, but the you that’s really you, like, nothing can touch him”
“Wait a second, what was that dude’s name?”
“Oh yeah, it was Max Tegmark who coined the term, but the idea’s been around since, basically, you know, the whole field of quantum physics started.”
“This is SO interesting, please tell me MORE!”
“Yeah, I know, right? So the basic idea is you create this machine that takes advantage of quantum uncertainty, like, you know, whether an atom is spinning one way or another, and then you… You attach it to a gun, like a pistol, and you… No wait, that’s quantum suicide…”
“Oh yes, of course, that’s quantum suicide.”
“No, wait… Yeah, you rig this machine that just shoots or doesn’t based on… Yeah, I was right: based on the quantum state of an atom.”
“Just fascinating.”
“Yeah, so you just stick your head right in the line of fire…”
“What the hell?”
“Yeah, you just have to make sure your head is right in front so when you die you don’t feel anything.”
“Ok…”
“And it’s really important to make sure you’re the only one there, or else it will close the quantum uncertainty…”
“Ok, now you’re totally losing me…”
“So, it’s like when you play Mario. When you die, you go back to the spot where you last saved and get another shot, no pun intended”
“None taken.”
“Hahaha, I know! So, yeah, you’ve just, like, killed a thousand Marios, but the guy who makes it to the end doesn’t know anything about them, from where he stands, he’s invincible.”
“Ok, or you’re lying in a pool of blood…”
“Wait a sec, babe, the waiter’s coming round… Can I get you anything?”
“No dipshit, can’t you see I’m drinking an espresso?”
“Haha! Yeah, I think you’d really like this place. The view is phenomenal! You can see the pantheon from where I’m sitting… Yeah, really! And everyone says they make the best coffee in the world… Ah, scusi, un altro café americano, per favore.”
“Oooh! Amerrricano, huh? Maybe you should order some forrrrmagio mote-sarrrella to go with that.”
“So, yeah, Quantum Suicide. You’d be alive in this dimension, or whichever dimension it would be in, and somewhere out there in thousands of other universes, you’d be dead.”
“What’s that shit supposed to mean? You know, I honestly–honestly!–have no idea what the fuck you’re talking about!”
“Well, it’s like, you’ve got this intermittent stream of bullets coming out of the gun, but every time you put your head in front of it, it stops shooting, but when you pull it back again, it immediately starts again.”
“Why would I… Why would anyone want to sit here listening to this shit! You know, I think you should actually try it. No seriously! I honestly don’t give a fuck if you’re alive in some alternate universe as long as the you in this universe gets his fucking brains blown out!”
“Yeah, right, so you’d, like, come into my lab and you’d see me lying there, but for me, I’m that final Mario, you know?”
“Yeah, except I don’t…”
“I’m out there, somewhere living forever. Yeah? I’d miss you too. I miss you now. Yeah, three months. Hey, how much do you have saved up? Maybe you could come out here and I could show you all around Roma. It’s supposed to be pretty romantic…”

As the waiter returned, the young man with a stylishly unshaven chin, wearing a well fitting leather jacket moved his chair back to let him through with his loaded tray. As he shifted his chair, his arm brushed against the dirty brown coat of the bearded man sitting behind him. Suddenly, he became aware that the man was alone, mumbling into a mug of espresso and he felt something was wrong.
“Listen, babe, I actually gotta go. Call me after your thing, alright? Yeah… Ok, I’ll make sure… Yeah, I love you too. Ciao.”
The man in the leather jacket stood up, leaving a full cup of cafe americano, and a man in a dirty brown coat, still mumbling into his espresso.
“I honestly don’t know what she sees in that dumb fuck. ‘Quantum suicide!’ ‘Alternate universe Mario!’ You know, I wish I did have a quantum gun…”
As the bearded man stood up to go, he pulled a few coins from his pocket and left them by his empty espresso cup. Later, the waiter would attest that he saw the glint of something metal in the pocket of the man’s dirty brown coat.

(Copyright 2015, Bill Herreid)

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