These bears appeared in a series of children books by the married Stan and Jan Berenstein, that later became a TV series, that got beamed to 3rd grade classrooms all over the country. Anyone between the ages of 23-30, and maybe more, will know who the Berenstein Bears are. And they will remember the flashy cursive bubble-letters on the front of every single book and in the opening credits of the show. The bubble letters that spelled out "Berenstein Bears".
About a year ago, Jan Berenstein passed on, as had Stan some time before. And appearing in headlines across the internet, I saw "Jan Berenstain Dies at 88".
They misspelled her name. In her obituary. Gosh, that's really just morbidly embarrassing. "Berenstain" doesn't even make sense.
When I caught this, I decided to send a correction about the article title. Jan Berenstein's bears were a huge part of my childhood, I owe her at least this. Except when I went to the internet to find a source for the name change correction, it turns out everyone has misspelled their name. And everyone has always misspelled her name.
And then I saw the book covers. The ones in the squiggly bubble letters from the childhood. The ones I saw a hundred times a month from the formative ages of 5 to 9. The ones that every 20-something in the world will tell you read "Berenstein Bears".
Except they don't read "Berenstein". They read "Berenstain".
|Stop the lies!|
In 1992 they were "stEin" in 1992, but in 2012 they were "stAin" in 1992.
Some explanations have been proposed. One person suggested a change due to time travel, similar to "A Sound of Thunder" by Ray Bradbury. It's an interesting theory, and I admire it for its simplicity, but it is flawed. Time travel doesn't actually work that way, and if someone had "stepped on a butterfly", it would not impact the future because they had already stepped on the butterfly before they left for the past; history has to be consistent.
I would like to make a modest proposal: We are all living in our own parallel universe.
There is at least one other universe parallel to our own. I will distinguish the two by the stEin universe and the stAin universe, depending on the surname of the creators of the famous children's book. The stEin universe was the world we resided in during the 1990s. Sometime after we all stopped reading kids books, that is when we were shifted in to the stAin universe. There may be more differences than just the surname of the Berenst_ins, in fact there almost certainly are more differences, and we just need to find them.
|Like, maybe, body-building Carrot Top|
Imaginary numbers are very familiar to the physicist, who uses them constantly in everything. They probably aren't as familiar to non-physicists, who maybe learned them in high school, but then only as some abstract mathematical formality that was kind of neat but didn't really mean anything. So as a graduate student of physics, let me assure you that imaginary numbers aren't just abstract, but have a solid physical meaning, and are crucially important in describing the physical behavior of a number of systems, most importantly quantum mechanics.
If complex numbers seem "unreal", it is chiefly because the 3 dimensional space of the universe excludes them.
|A point in this plane is a complex number.|
Each direction and time is its own plane.
(Edit: I wrote a longer explanation of what I'm trying to explain. It does not involve time travel, quantum mechanics, or the many-worlds hypothesis.)
If the above sounds weird to you, please remember that the original proposal of special relativity by Einstein and Minkowski (and others) explicitly treated time as a strictly imaginary coordinate in pseudo-Euclidean space. It is only modern formulations that have turned to Minkowski space with signed metric tensors. Also, imaginary time dimensions show up again in quantum field theory to relate quantum path integrals to statistical mechanical path integrals, this done by means of a Wick rotation.
So the concept isn't foreign to physics, was used early on to help get special relativity started, and has shown up since to help quantum field theory to calculate things.
Within this complex spacetime, all mass is shared, and also wave functions of particles are shared, so that effects can leak between them. This may account for dark matter and dark energy. Because the imaginary coordinates in a plane wave will turn it in to a decaying function (e^ik(ix) = e^(-kx), which goes to zero as x increases), mostly particles hang out in their own hexadectant and don't leak out.
I further propose that the stEin and the stAin universes are actually just different hexadectants of the same universe: in the stEin universe, all three spatial dimensions are real and time is imaginary; in the stAin universe, all three spatial dimensions are imaginary and time is real. Of course, from the standpoint of stEin/stAin this won't produce any mathematically significant difference; it's the same as choosing (+++-) or (---+) convention for Minkowski space, which at the end doesn't alter predictions or measurements. We'd never know if we did swap.
Given the weak interaction of particles between these hexadectants, stEin and stAin both evolved in time along similar lines, staying very close to one another. Jan and Stan decided to write kids books about bears in both, for instance. But there have also been differences; like some 16th century scribe accidentally spilled some ink on a census page, changing "Berenstein" to "Berenstain" on accident, and they just left it that way.
Somehow, we have all undergone a π/2 phase change in all 4 dimensions so that we moved to the stAin hexadectant, while our counterparts moved to our hexadectant (stEin). They are standing around expressing their confusion about the "Berenstein Bears" and how they all remember "Berenstain Bears" on the covers growing up.
I would like to point out, this has nothing to do with the popular and similar theories of the quantum many-worlds hypothesis, nor the cosmological multiverse. It's a different thing, meant to explain our transfer to the world and the similarities.
That's what I think happened, and I'm sticking to it.
P.S. This post has gotten a lot of attention in recent months. I've seen a lot of what he internet has to say about the incident, and have written a post trying to combine a lot of the wisdom from other forums, including photographic evidences, in to a summary post. I suggest that those curious check it out, and especially the links included there. The summary post can be found here.
P.P.S. Due to some limitations to blogger, new comments do not seem to be displaying correctly. If your comment does not appear here, I suggest leaving it on the follow-up post. I apologize for this and wish they could all be shown here, but it is out of my hands.
I am shutting down comments on this post to prevent further confusion, as people keep double-posting when they don't see their comment appear. Blogger will not accept more comments on this post. I wish this wasn't a problem, as a number of the recent ones have had some great insights. Please post your comment on the follow-up summary mentioned above.
PPPS I think I figured out what was wrong with comments. Not sure if me, or the website is fixed, but the most recent comments now appear below. (2017/12/05)