The Leksand Interpretation.

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On August 9th, 1945, two remarkable women, one in New York City, the other in Leksand, Sweden, were introduced to one another via a live radio interview. The recently uncovered diary of a friend of one of them now tells us what happened after the interview.

"Women have a great responsibility and they are obliged to try, so far as they can, to prevent another war. I hope that the construction of the atom bomb not only will help to finish this awful war, but that we will be able to also use this great energy that has been released for peaceful work." said Lise, finishing with more confidence. She had survived the war that had not, after all, ended all wars, had measured its brutality in the X ray images of the maimed. She had endured the withering chauvinism of her male colleagues from the dingy basement of Berlin’s glittering institute and she had withstood the exile imposed by her vile countryman. A simple radio interview should not have posed such a problem. Yet she had struggled through the interview, the awful news from Hiroshima just three days ago leaving her quite devastated. Because less than seven years before, in a moment of clarity amidst the snow falling on Goteburg's countryside, she had understood how the impact of a single neutron would cause the uranium nucleus to stretch, to tremble, to burst, to lose the tiniest mass and to release the mightiest energy. But she had not understood how soon that knowledge would be put to such terrible use.
“.... and we are proud of your contributions as a woman in science.” said Eleanor, wrapping up the interview. After a long pause, during which Lise wondered whether she should just leave, Eleanor's voice came across the speaker. "Professor Meitner, are you still there?"
"Yes, I am here Mrs. Roosevelt." replied Lise.
"Please forgive my forwardness." said Eleanor, "I want you to know that if you feel responsibility, guilt even, for what has happened in Hiroshima, that burden is shared by many others, including myself. But we must now do our very best to prevent an escalation in the construction of these atomic weapons. We must ensure that the destruction visited on Hiroshima is witnessed by the world only this once. Will you join me in these efforts Professor Meitner?"
"I shall give it serious thought, Mrs Roosevelt." said Lise. "But, if I may, I would like to share some thoughts I have had over the last two days. You see, we know that until they are measured, the particles that make up our universe - the electrons, protons and neutrons - are best thought of as occupying all possible states of existence and all possible locations simultaneously. We call this superposition. Now, I know nothing of the construction of the atom bomb, but no doubt there will be a detonator which generates a limited number of neutrons to start a chain reaction. If each of those neutrons exists in superposition, we can easily imagine a situation in which none strikes its target. Now, while this may seem a very remote eventuality, if we suppose that all possible fates are played out, each in its own world, then we must assume there is indeed a world in which this terrible event did not occur. Perhaps this is idle fancy, but it does provide some solace to me. Perhaps it might to you too."

It has been twenty eight years since Lise Meitner and Eleanor Roosevelt shared the Nobel Prize for Peace and fifteen years since the last atomic device was dismantled, largely as a result of their determination and inspiration. Eleanor's hope that our collective memory of the destruction of Hiroshima - the only time an atomic device has been used as an agent of warfare - would serve to ensure that it never be repeated has therefore come to fruition, at least for the foreseeable future. Intriguingly we can now see that, as far back as 1945, Lise Meitner had foreshadowed what would later be known as the Mirror, Mirror Interpretation of quantum mechanics, in which wavefunction collapse does not occur and all possible outcomes of quantum events are realized, each in its own world. Is it possible that there is indeed a world in which Little Boy failed to detonate and unleash its fury on Hiroshima? Would the movement to end the potential of atomic devastation, led with such passion by Eleanor and Lise, still have gained the momentum needed to ensure its success? No doubt we will never know the answers to these questions. But we can be certain that the safety and security felt throughout the world since the abolition of nuclear weapons can be traced back to the events of August 9th, 1945.