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Monday, June 18, 2012

Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.

The alarm clock buzzes and I wake instantly, asking the question: "Who am I?" I've always been the kind of person who's immediately alert and awake from the moment I open my eyes. I'll never understand people like my wife or my children, who must be nursed along and gently chided into wakefulness lest they lash out in some furious: Just let me wake up! tantrum. I sometimes think I awaken like this because of the memory of a long ago event during naptime at the daycare I attended. I witnessed a little girl wake up, lean over and―in my recollection intentionally―vomit into a little boy's open mouth. To this day I can still see him sitting up screaming, the victim of a nightmare from which no further awakening was possible.

I don't belong here. When I say that, it's more of a feeling than anything I can point out as specific evidence. I honestly feel like I was born in some other universe. How I arrived at this one is a mystery, although there are two months of my life missing. I was a passenger in a car wreck twenty-five years ago. Family and friends agree, as do news articles of that period, that my brother and I, along with two friends, were involved in a nearly fatal collision. I don't remember several weeks in critical condition, only the painful weeks afterwards. I don't remember the crash either.

More recently, twelve years ago, I woke up in a hospital one day and my father was there to tell me that I'd had an intracranial bleed. He told me it had affected my memory, and that I'd already been in the hospital for more than a month. I don't remember it.

After this more recent loss of another month of my life, I started asking this one strange question all the time: "Who am I?" I ask because, I just don't feel like myself. There is something different and I don't know whether that difference is me or everything else. Twelve years later I'm still asking: "Who am I?"

History is different. When I went to school, I learned that our founding fathers were wise, good, and patriotic. George Washington was a man who would not tell a lie. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, an assorted list of heroes who helped build the most amazing and incredible nation in history, were all of them, wise, good, patriotic. None of them had feet of clay when I learned about them in history class.

In this subtly different universe, classrooms teach a different story. It's no longer a tale of wisdom, goodness, and courage. Far from it, nowadays it's a tale of cynicism, twisted evilness, debauchery, and self-centeredness. The founding fathers had their good points, but they're not looked upon as people worthy of emulation.

I remember learning in school that the neutrino was the only thing that was faster than light. Lately, that seems to have changed. In fact―in this universe―they've only recently even begun asking the question, and here I thought the science was settled thirty years ago. It turns out that Pluto isn't a planet. Apparently, there's no such thing as a brontosaurus either. Also, some guy from Norway discovered America? History is changing faster than they can write new books!

Our coach used to ask the team to bow their heads while he led prayers. He did this before every game. This was a public school and a public school teacher leading this prayer, mind you. Countless times I listened as teachers and administrators in auditoriums or classrooms, invoked God or led prayers to bless some pursuit, some person, some event, or some team. But in this universe school administrators ban patriotic songs like Lee Greenwood's Proud to be an American. Apparently because they're too patriotic and God, blessing the USA might offend illegal immigrants or people from other cultures.

You might be thinking that either I'm insane, or question whether I'm just being intentionally enigmatic. The one thing you don't believe is that I really am from some other universe. You don't believe in parallel universes. That's just science-fiction mumbo-jumbo; am I right?
Neutrons may be traveling from our universe into parallel worlds and back again, according to a new theory that explains a rather odd phenomenon.

Experiments at ultra-low temperatures carried out by Anatoly Serebrov at the Institut Laue-Langevin in France have revealed a phenomenon known as neutron loss, whereby neutrons appear to vanish for short periods.

Now, theoretical physicists Zurab Berezhiani and Fabrizio Nesti of Italy's University of l'Aquila, Italy, have reanalyzed the experimental data and come up with a possible explanation.

They've shown that the loss rate of very slow free neutrons appears to depend on the direction and strength of the magnetic field applied, an anomaly that can't be explained by known physics.

What could explain this finding, though, is a hypothetical parallel world consisting of 'mirror particles'. Each neutron would have the ability to transition into its invisible mirror twin and back, oscillating from one parallel universe to the other.
Now that I know it's possible that there are parallel universes, I just have to figure out how to get back to the one I grew up in, where patriotism was actually a virtue instead of being looked upon with distrust and even outright scorn. I want to go back to the universe where freedom of religion means you are allowed to pray, not forbidden from praying. I want to live where Americans―including those in kindergarten―are proud to be Americans.

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