Keith Lynch remembers 1979-1980

Some of the fullest memories of DBS come from Keith Lynch, who worked there for ten months (after being released from prison!). He had been accused—falsely, as it turned out—of the 1977 burglary and was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison. His friends showed Reisler several letters written by Lynch in prison to prove that the wall inscription was made by another hand. Reisler took note not only of the handwriting but also of the content of the letters, and decided they showed talent. In July, 1979, only two days after being paroled, Lynch became a programmer at DBS (where the inscription was still on the wall!) [136, 148].

Lynch describes [103, 104] the small suite of DBS offices on the 15th floor, with an excellent view from its north-facing windows. (Had the windows faced east, the view would have been even more notable: the Lincoln Memorial two kilometers away, the Washington Monument about a kilometer farther, and the Capitol Dome some two kilometers beyond that.) According to Lynch, Everett's desktop computer, a Radio Shack (Tandy) TRS-80, would occasionally be running something when Everett wasn't around. Lynch gained the impression that this work wasn't business-related but had something to do with physics or math or sheer curiosity.

To Lynch Everett appeared aloof, off doing his own thing, not involved with the day-to-day business of DBS, which included analyzing statistics to look for patterns of racial discrimination, sex discrimination, police brutality, etc., mostly for the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (though Lynch admits that he could be mistaken, since he was very new to the world of business then).

Everett's digital alarm clock played a short synthesized tune at 11:30 every morning, and everybody at DBS had to drop whatever he or she was doing (unless it was very urgent) and eat. Also, right after work on Fridays, they all had dinner together at an Italian restaurant across the street. Everett was at his most sociable in those relaxed settings [55]. He remained a man of the 1950s—he smoked, drank, ate high-fat foods, and argued that medical science was mistaken about cholesterol being dangerous. He was quite out of step with most educated Americans in the 1970s.

Lynch tells us that he and the staff were once somewhat disturbed when Everett showed them a gold coin from South Africa—a nation which at the time still had its repressive system of apartheid. Everett's net worth was just barely a million dollars, and once he mentioned someone's proposal to tax all money over a million dollars at 100%. He would see nothing wrong with this, he said, if, whenever his net worth fell below a million dollars, the government would bring it back up to a million dollars.

What makes Lynch's recollections especially valuable to the biographer and reader is that Lynch, more than any other DBS employee, shared with Everett many interests and views in physics, math, logic, paradoxes, religion, and libertarian philosophy. They would converse at length on these subjects during lunches and dinners together. Everett's political philosophy was very similar to what Harry Browne has stated [149]: One shouldn't waste one's time trying to change the government, since no matter how restrictive government becomes, there will always be ways for a clever person to find loopholes. In fact, the more restrictive it becomes, the more loopholes there will be.

Everett was a committed atheist. He once claimed he had a disproof of the Catholic faith. (He chose not to share this "disproof" with Lynch. He said he had shared it once with someone who was strongly Catholic and also strongly committed to logic, and that person was driven to suicide. Everett was afraid that Lynch would promptly use it on Catholics.) Atheist or not, Everett firmly believed that his many-worlds theory guaranteed him immortality: His consciousness, he argued, is bound at each branching to follow whatever path does not lead to death —and so on ad infinitum. (Sadly, Everett's daughter Liz, in her later suicide note, said she was going to a parallel universe to be with her father. [149a])

Everett believed deeply in the many-worlds theory, and when Lynch argued that this theory was not falsifiable, and therefore was not scientific, he replied that it would be falsified if standard quantum mechanics was falsified.

Everett took a great interest in the notorious "unexpected hanging" paradox (for details, see [150] and [103, 104]). Once he posed to Lynch another paradox: whether people should have the "freedom" to sell themselves into slavery. Everett, according to Lynch, was great fun to talk with. By age 50, he had become even more handsome, had grown side-whiskers and a professorial goatee, and had a high, shining Socratic forehead [58, 102, 119].

From the same period is a letter Everett wrote to the historian of science D. Raub, in response to a letter he had received from Raub [126]. Nancy Everett has cited this letter of her husband's as maybe "the most representative of Hugh's thoughts and definitive statement thereof" [151]. Everett wrote that he certainly still supports all of the conclusions of his thesis and considers it to be still the only completely coherent approach to explaining both the contents of quantum mechanics and the appearance of the world. He adds that he has encountered a number of other scientists "subscribing" to it, by and large the younger crop free of preconceptions, but he has no list (perhaps, he suggests, Wheeler has a list of such persons).

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