What We Learned From a Table Covered in Lasers and Mirrors

Says Alix Spiegel, the host of Invisibilia: “One day last summer, because we wanted to see something truly magical, Lulu [Miller, the co-host] and I found ourselves standing in front of a huge table covered in lasers and mirrors while a very nervous physicist hovered nearby.”

They are talking about quantum entanglement. The physicist, David Hucul, is going to try to take two separate atoms and, using his laser, turn them into the same thing.

Huh? I know. This is weird. The physicist says it’s weird. Everyone agrees it’s weird. But this is what’s great about this podcast. Alix Spiegel talks slowly so that we’re not entirely confused, and she helps us understand what the hell is going on. Invisibilia is a podcast about the invisible sources that shape human behavior, so there are a lot of weird elements to this podcast. Except they’re not weird because they’re fantasy. They’re weird because they’re scientific.

Science is not something that you usually want to listen to people speak about, but in this podcast, a physicist is making two things become one and I’m utterly fascinated. Sounds like love, right? Except it’s not, it’s an atom. Even Hucul, the physicist says, “It’s almost like destiny.”

So how does this work? No one really understands it. “The guys who do this research don't understand it,” Geoff Brumfiel, the science reporter at NPR who’s with them says. “They tell me they don't understand it. It's just there. It's - you know, it's math, and it works.”

But here’s the strangest part of this. It’s not that the atoms can connect to each other, it’s this:

“There could be one particle of you right now entangled with a person that you just passed on the street,” Miller says.


I’m not going to give away too much, but they do speak to a woman who feels everything around her. She said this has been going on since she was a child. The first time she experienced it was when she watched another child being hugged. And in turn, she felt hugged. “He’d get a hug. She’d get a little hug.”

This podcast will simply blow your mind.  Get ready.