Entangled With The Past

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Adella dashes from her car to the building's front door, her torso visible under a large parasol. She grips it firmly with two hands, as the lead covering she has sprayed onto its canopy has weighed it down, considerably. It is a cloudy day with little sun, no rain on the horizon, and as usual she attracts stares from passersby. Her friends and colleagues have been concerned with her unusual behaviour, but she has more pressing worries on her mind.
 
Upon entering her office floor and folding the parasol, she is faced with a dreadful sight. A bloody heel print is on the floor on one side of a wall, nowhere near a doorway. She discovers the rest of the shoe print on the floor on the opposite side of the wall. It looks as if someone has walked there before the wall was erected, but the building is old, the blood fresh.
 
And now Adella must piece together what this image signifies. Somewhere cloaked behind her good intentions and celebrated credentials lies the truth that only she is privy to.
 
When Lucas Zendel invented his Séance Machine over fifty years ago, the study of parapsychology burgeoned into the most popular of the new sciences--parahistory.  In a hermetically sealed room, the device created artificial alpha and theta waves that were purposely lowered so even ungifted Mediums could perform séances with outstanding results.  And what was recently discovered was the ability to photograph the channeled deceased with the aid of a Higgs Boson Camera, as their presence at a séance was complete and pure.
 
Working at the Zendel Parahistory Foundation carries a status like no other, but Adella Purdel does not care for the attention.  Her passion has always been the exploration of parahistory and its relationship to 20th century society.  But today, Adella is not so proud.  She has stumbled onto facts that cannot be denied.  Not only is the science a fraud, but a serious risk to all.
 
Her office is sparsely furnished and the walls covered with Higgs photographs of prominent historical persons. Her leaded glass windows allow for little light, but coupled with lead painted walls, the room is shielded from unwanted encroachment. The foundation was led to believe this shielding was important to her research, but only Adella knows its real purpose.
 
She sits at her desk clasping an electronic satchel, her wide eyes scanning the photographs on the walls, and the bloodstain on the floor.
 
She lights a hypofag, sucks hard on its fumes and focuses on the picture of a violin player and his young child, Lucy Dos Santos.  She was one of the three Seers of Fatima, the ones to whom the Virgin Mary appeared and prophesied back in the twentieth century.  The next photograph is again a picture of Lucy at the age of 32.  She is staring into space and laughing hysterically. 
 
Adella powers her satchel and retrieves the document containing the neuropsychiatric results. She does not need to re-read them, and knows the experiments have got to stop.  She must somehow prove what she's come to understand.
 
Higgs was the Nobel Prize winner for physics who had theorized the existence of the boson, or the God particle. The camera named in his honour is able to capture this sticky energy that gives all particles their mass, and is able to construct a clear photograph of the person being channeled. However, somewhere during this process of capturing that energy, molecules of the originating being jumps to the projected being, by way of quantum entanglement.  To be more precise, the entangled particles serve as a conduit of sorts, for Quantum Teleportation.
 
Everyone in the know is aware that the term, Teleportation, is a misnomer as the theory states that the particles created are copies of the original. The term should read, Quantum Cloning. And in this case, when a photo is taken with a Higgs Boson Camera, a partial clone is created.
 
Adella knows that her legacy, and her immediate health, will depend on her ability to prove this theory, and to put a stop to the project.
 
She knows that for over fifty years the institute has not been channeling the dead, but rather the living.  And tests reveal that with each follow-up visitation, the subject’s mind is altered. In the case of Lucy Dos Santos, they reveal she is indeed insane. And perhaps the initial séance with Lucy is what caused her so-called apparition of the Virgin Mary. She senses the same will be said of her, one day, if she lowers her shields. Unfortunately, that wasn't possible for the figures hanging on her wall: Edgar Allan Poe, Adolf Hitler, Jesus of Nazareth; all unwilling participants in an experiment that gradually drove them mad. 
 
And judging from the crimson blotches on the floor, one of those figures is not well. 

About the Author: 
Denis's work has appeared in various print and online literary journals. He is pleased to be writing again. In fact, he was last spotted hunched over his keyboard, coffee in hand and cat in lap, as they planned his next Quantum Short.

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Quantum Theories

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

G is for ... Gluon

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

R is for ... Randomness

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

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.

K is for ... Kaon

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

U is for ... Universe

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

I is for ... Information

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

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

A is for ... Act of observation

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

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”.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.