The Entangled Participant

No votes yet
Your rating: None

The Entangled Contestant
The oddest money story I came across in 2014 was certainly that of my friend Jamie Smith. During a morning conversation last December, Jamie related to me her little adventure with amusement. Before I can go on, I must tell you an interesting fact about her: Jamie shares the same name as her husband, the other Jamie Smith. That’s right! Jamie Smith is married to Jamie Smith. They were actually introduced to each other because they had the same name. Their quirky friend, who thought of herself as a natural matchmaker, considered this a slam-dunk.  It was indeed love at first sight.
Jamie and Jamie. They look alike, talk alike but most importantly think very much alike. They often complete each other’s sentences. They are also both science buffs as well as pranksters. Another interesting thing is that since they are married to one another, they also share the same address, the same e-mail as well as the same bank account under that same name. This is a nice advantage at times.
Back in October 2013, after sharing a cup of coffee, they came to discuss an ad in a popular science magazine they had both come across: an invitation to a sci-fi quantum-inspired writing competition. Jamie suggested and Jamie agreed that they should participate in a special way, a way that would actually demonstrate entanglement and superposition.
At this time, I would like to bring your attention to the fact that Jamie never attributed any of the actions of this story to a specific Jamie in particular.
That being said, let’s continue with our story. Jamie’s plan for the competition was implemented: the Jamies discussed the story they were submitting together/apart, each as competent as the other to write it yet only one of them would do so. It was basically the same story I’m presently telling you.
Both got a copy. Both filed the entry form under his own name : Jamie Smith, as if each had exclusively written the story.
Each Jamie sent his entry within a tight and pre-set time frame previously decided upon and necessarily from the same computer and shared email account. That was easy to work out.
In effect, both competition entries were identical in content yet one was legitimate, the other a plagiarized copy.
Both Jamies, as a tribute to quantum theory, agreed that they would never admit to anyone else who had actually written the story and who had plagiarized it. They were one: Their identities were now entangled.
On the receiving end, where the judges judge, three possibilities existed. First, there was the rejection of both competition entries. Without anyone there to actualize the entanglement, the Jamies’ scheme would instantly become of zero interest to the universe as both Jamies already knew who had actually written the story and could not generate true entanglement without an outside observer.
The second possibility (extremely low) was that both Jamie entries would be retained and taken seriously as a case of superposition of identity. This however would have created problems for the judges as well as for the Jamies as the call of plagiarism from competing participants could have been argued convincingly in a Newtonian kind of way. Even if some of the judges were of a scientific bent and could intelligently discuss the quantum situation, in this particular time in history, they would never convince anyone outside their restrained group that a quantum rule should break a contest rule. Physics is always ahead of ethics.
Ultimately, reality opted for the third possibility. Only one of the Jamie entries was retained thereby eliminating any serious discussion of plagiarism (even if there was a 50% chance that the plagiarized version was the one retained). It was simply presented as a cool story.
The judges had been impressed by the concept of superimposed identities, held entangled by the covenant of our scientific protagonists.  They rightly declared ‘The Entangled Contestant’ the winner of the science-fiction competition and transferred into the bank account of one Jamie Smith the prize money.
The Jaimies were surprised to find the wired amount was breaking contest rules and was 1.414 times the official cash prize. After a few calculations, they rightly figured that the judges had materialized that extra prize money as a quantum wink to them in effect stating that their entanglement was now further entangled in its own right.
The Jamies laughed at the thought that hush money had now taken on a new meaning. 

About the Author: 
Mark Garon is president of Castiv,Inc. He resides in St-Hyacinthe, Quebec.

Newsletter Signup

Submit your email address so we can send you occasional competition updates and tell you who wins!

Quantum Theories

K is for ... Kaon

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 ... 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 ... Computing

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

R is for ... Randomness

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

A is for ... Act of observation

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

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.

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!

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.

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”.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

I is for ... Information

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

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.

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.

U is for ... Universe

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

G is for ... Gluon

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.