Anna Molly

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John wished at that moment that he did not live in a multiverse of his own making.
 
Sitting at the bar in a crowded nightclub, he shook his glass of scotch and pondered whether to alter the melting rate of the ice cubes. Many other thoughts were also brimming on the surface of his n-dimensional mind but he tried to keep them at bay for the moment.
 
He gulped the drink down and signaled for a refill and looked at the many patrons dancing to their heart's content in the dim-lit establishment.
 
A slight change in the room pressure indicated that his friend had arrived.
 
"John, I can't keep chasing you forever," came the admonition from the man sitting on the previously vacant chair next to his.
 
John looked up at the many bottles placed on the shelves ahead of him. The bartender fondly touched the side of a bottle of rum and, with an expert swoop, poured out two shots and placed it in front of the visitors.
 
"Hello Gary," responded John.
 
Gary took a sip from his glass and raised it to propose a toast. Their glasses clinked and the old friends faced one another.
 
"John, this is a waste of our time. You were only supposed to be here till the next dimensional transition. And that was several second-quanta in the past."
 
John studied his counterpart who had chosen the visage of a portly old man. Was John the student now?
 
A minute passed in respectful silence. In the background, an inebriated woman shrieked in delight as one of her two paramours edged closer to her bodice.
 
"We don't belong with their kind," Gary continued. "I don't know why you ever thought there could be any sense of affinity here."
 
John didn't reply and rested his head on the table.
 
Gary was growing impatient but knew that he would not get another such opportunity for quite some time yet
 
"I mean it's only in the past century that they've realized the probabilistic nature of their universe. It'll take them a few more centuries until they prove that superposition at the quantum level works on the grand scale as well."
 
John continued to stare at the bubbles in his glass and thought about changing the composition of the liquid to a lighter beverage to comfort his troubled stomach. But then, it was easier to rearrange the cells of his stomach lining to filter the alcohol better.
 
"Heck, they will probably stick to their limited worldview and focus on charting direct paths within the five dimensions that their brains can comprehend. Trans-light travel and time manipulation is probably all they will accomplish until their next evolutionary..."
 
Before he could finish, John melded into the table and vanished from the club.
 
Gary, though, was prepared for the eventuality and followed the atomic traces of John's path.
 
They found themselves perched on the ledge of a building that overlooked a nearby bridge. The city skyline was visible on the distant horizon.
 
"What is it that keeps you rooted here?" Gary asked.
 
"A world devoid of complexity is not necessarily simple," John replied.
 
"By definition, it has to be," Gary countered.
 
A breeze ruffled the hair of the two men as they sipped at their drinks. The setting sun cast an eerie glow but it was swiftly replaced by the darkness of night as John sped up the time factor.
 
"I mean, they are not even aware of the forces control them. They can never be the observers of the habitat that confines them!"
 
"The dice doesn't know when it's rolled, eh?"
 
"Exactly! And we have far more pressing issues to attend to. The Annihilator is intensifying his efforts in the other universes. We've developed a new detecting mechanism that I think you would be interested in."
 
John buried his face into his hands and tried to ignore the mention of the Enemy.
 
"John, I know what your opinions are on the matter. You made it abundantly clear during the conference at the ten-dimensional universe. I have not ruled out the possibility that the Annihilator is the Creator himself and that we face a singularity by retaliating in this indirect fashion. But as the pre-eminent elders of the multiverse, we have to use our powers wisely."
 
John looked up and displayed his true multi-dimensional face.
 
"Morality? You wish to use that to coerce my return yet you fail to respect my sabbatical?"
 
"I have tolerated it so far," Gary pointed out. "But it's apparent that your involvement with these lesser beings has changed you somehow. I have to put an end to it. There's too much at stake."
 
Reverting to his five-dimensional state, John took a deep breath and said: "Give me ten minutes of standard time."
 
Gary nodded and disappeared into thin air.
 
John jumped down and landed on the pavement. He dove between the various molecular possibilities to retreat to the original strand of this particular universe that had once fascinated him.
 
He walked the familiar sidewalks, took the underpass and climbed the hill to the park where he had first met his future self.
 
After a couple of minutes, his past self arrived at the bench. Both individuals noticed one another and the younger man gave a curt nod.
 
And then she came.
 
It had been far too long since John had visited a universe with her and the bench within it.
 
She took a seat and flashed a smile to the handsome stranger next to her.
 
"You come here often?" the younger John inquired. She blushed as she shook her head.
 
John watched the tale unfold once more, promising himself that it would be the last time.
 
And he knew that the only way to ensure it would be to obliterate the only universe that contained her existence.
 
After all, anomalies were not allowed in John's multiverse.

About the Author: 
Suhas Bhat is a sports journalist with FOX Sports. He was formerly the Chief Editor of NUSSU The Ridge.

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Quantum Theories

R is for ... Radioactivity

The atoms of a radioactive substance break apart, emitting particles. It is impossible to predict when the next particle will be emitted as it happens at random. All we can do is give the probability that any particular atom will have decayed by a given time.

Q is for ... Qubit

One quantum bit of information is known as a qubit (pronounced Q-bit). The ability of quantum particles to exist in many different states at once means a single quantum object can represent multiple qubits at once, opening up the possibility of extremely fast information processing.

D is for ... Decoherence

Unless it is carefully isolated, a quantum system will “leak” information into its surroundings. This can destroy delicate states such as superposition and entanglement.

T is for ... Tunnelling

This happens when quantum objects “borrow” energy in order to bypass an obstacle such as a gap in an electrical circuit. It is possible thanks to the uncertainty principle, and enables quantum particles to do things other particles can’t.

D is for ... Dice

Albert Einstein decided quantum theory couldn’t be right because its reliance on probability means everything is a result of chance. “God doesn’t play dice with the world,” he said.

A is for ... Alice and Bob

In quantum experiments, these are the names traditionally given to the people transmitting and receiving information. In quantum cryptography, an eavesdropper called Eve tries to intercept the information.

I is for ... Interferometer

Some of the strangest characteristics of quantum theory can be demonstrated by firing a photon into an interferometer: the device’s output is a pattern that can only be explained by the photon passing simultaneously through two widely-separated slits.

V is for ... Virtual particles

Quantum theory’s uncertainty principle says that since not even empty space can have zero energy, the universe is fizzing with particle-antiparticle pairs that pop in and out of existence. These “virtual” particles are the source of Hawking radiation.

F is for ... Free Will

Ideas at the heart of quantum theory, to do with randomness and the character of the molecules that make up the physical matter of our brains, lead some researchers to suggest humans can’t have free will.

G is for ... Gluon

These elementary particles hold together the quarks that lie at the heart of matter.

O is for ... Objective reality

Niels Bohr, one of the founding fathers of quantum physics, said there is no such thing as objective reality. All we can talk about, he said, is the results of measurements we make.

C is for ... Computing

The rules of the quantum world mean that we can process information much faster than is possible using the computers we use now.

B is for ... Bell's Theorem

In 1964, John Bell came up with a way of testing whether quantum theory was a true reflection of reality. In 1982, the results came in – and the world has never been the same since!

W is for ... Wave-particle duality

It is possible to describe an atom, an electron, or a photon as either a wave or a particle. In reality, they are both: a wave and a particle.

H is for ... Hidden Variables

One school of thought says that the strangeness of quantum theory can be put down to a lack of information; if we could find the “hidden variables” the mysteries would all go away.

A is for ... Atom

This is the basic building block of matter that creates the world of chemical elements – although it is made up of more fundamental particles.

L is for ... Light

We used to believe light was a wave, then we discovered it had the properties of a particle that we call a photon. Now we know it, like all elementary quantum objects, is both a wave and a particle!

S is for ... Superposition

Quantum objects can exist in two or more states at once: an electron in superposition, for example, can simultaneously move clockwise and anticlockwise around a ring-shaped conductor.

Y is for ... Young's Double Slit Experiment

In 1801, Thomas Young proved light was a wave, and overthrew Newton’s idea that light was a “corpuscle”.

S is for ... Schrödinger’s Cat

A hypothetical experiment in which a cat kept in a closed box can be alive and dead at the same time – as long as nobody lifts the lid to take a look.

M is for ... Multiverse

Our most successful theories of cosmology suggest that our universe is one of many universes that bubble off from one another. It’s not clear whether it will ever be possible to detect these other universes.

Q is for ... Quantum biology

A new and growing field that explores whether many biological processes depend on uniquely quantum processes to work. Under particular scrutiny at the moment are photosynthesis, smell and the navigation of migratory birds.

P is for ... Probability

Quantum mechanics is a probabilistic theory: it does not give definite answers, but only the probability that an experiment will come up with a particular answer. This was the source of Einstein’s objection that God “does not play dice” with the universe.

Z is for ... Zero-point energy

Even at absolute zero, the lowest temperature possible, nothing has zero energy. In these conditions, particles and fields are in their lowest energy state, with an energy proportional to Planck’s constant.

S is for ... Schrödinger Equation

This is the central equation of quantum theory, and describes how any quantum system will behave, and how its observable qualities are likely to manifest in an experiment.

A is for ... Act of observation

Some people believe this changes everything in the quantum world, even bringing things into existence.

X is for ... X-ray

In 1923 Arthur Compton shone X-rays onto a block of graphite and found that they bounced off with their energy reduced exactly as would be expected if they were composed of particles colliding with electrons in the graphite. This was the first indication of radiation’s particle-like nature.

R is for ... Reality

Since the predictions of quantum theory have been right in every experiment ever done, many researchers think it is the best guide we have to the nature of reality. Unfortunately, that still leaves room for plenty of ideas about what reality really is!

B is for ... Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC)

At extremely low temperatures, quantum rules mean that atoms can come together and behave as if they are one giant super-atom.

J is for ... Josephson Junction

This is a narrow constriction in a ring of superconductor. Current can only move around the ring because of quantum laws; the apparatus provides a neat way to investigate the properties of quantum mechanics.

H is for ... Hawking Radiation

In 1975, Stephen Hawking showed that the principles of quantum mechanics would mean that a black hole emits a slow stream of particles and would eventually evaporate.

L is for ... Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

At CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, this machine is smashing apart particles in order to discover their constituent parts and the quantum laws that govern their behaviour.

T is for ... Teleportation

Quantum tricks allow a particle to be transported from one location to another without passing through the intervening space – or that’s how it appears. The reality is that the process is more like faxing, where the information held by one particle is written onto a distant particle.

G is for ... Gravity

Our best theory of gravity no longer belongs to Isaac Newton. It’s Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. There’s just one problem: it is incompatible with quantum theory. The effort to tie the two together provides the greatest challenge to physics in the 21st century.

K is for ... Kaon

These are particles that carry a quantum property called strangeness. Some fundamental particles have the property known as charm!

N is for ... Nonlocality

When two quantum particles are entangled, it can also be said they are “nonlocal”: their physical proximity does not affect the way their quantum states are linked.

U is for ... Universe

To many researchers, the universe behaves like a gigantic quantum computer that is busy processing all the information it contains.

E is for ... Entanglement

When two quantum objects interact, the information they contain becomes shared. This can result in a kind of link between them, where an action performed on one will affect the outcome of an action performed on the other. This “entanglement” applies even if the two particles are half a universe apart.

P is for ... Planck's Constant

This is one of the universal constants of nature, and relates the energy of a single quantum of radiation to its frequency. It is central to quantum theory and appears in many important formulae, including the Schrödinger Equation.

C is for ... Cryptography

People have been hiding information in messages for millennia, but the quantum world provides a whole new way to do it.

U is for ... Uncertainty Principle

One of the most famous ideas in science, this declares that it is impossible to know all the physical attributes of a quantum particle or system simultaneously.

I is for ... Information

Many researchers working in quantum theory believe that information is the most fundamental building block of reality.

M is for ... Many Worlds Theory

Some researchers think the best way to explain the strange characteristics of the quantum world is to allow that each quantum event creates a new universe.

W is for ... Wavefunction

The mathematics of quantum theory associates each quantum object with a wavefunction that appears in the Schrödinger equation and gives the probability of finding it in any given state.

R is for ... Randomness

Unpredictability lies at the heart of quantum mechanics. It bothered Einstein, but it also bothers the Dalai Lama.