Entanglement

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Edgar has a dream girl. I don’t mean a kind of girl he’d like to be with. I mean a very specific dream girl.

Her name is Victoria.

She’s about five-foot-six and thin as a lamppost. She has black hair streaked with blue, and dark brown eyes. She sometimes wears thick black glasses that Edgar loves, but she’s been wearing contacts more often as of late, which he doesn’t love as much. She used to dress in t-shirts and long skirts, but now she dresses a bit more punky. Edgar thinks she looks beautiful no matter what she wears.

Victoria likes to read comics and study physics. She tells people her favorite book is John Milton’s Paradise Lost, but only because she’s embarrassed to tell them it’s actually Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. She makes lists obsessively, about everything under the sun.

Edgar has never met Victoria. In fact, he’s never even seen her in his life. Then how does he know so much about her, you ask?

Edgar’s been dreaming about her his entire life.

He’s told everybody all about Victoria and what she’s been doing. He’s told his mom and dad, he’s told me, his best friend, he’s told his teachers, he’s told the lady at the carniceria, Mrs. Robles. She thinks Edgar’s loco, and has said so many times quite loudly. In fact, I don’t think there’s anybody in our small town who doesn’t know about Edgar’s Victoria (but our town is quite small; there’s one school and it houses all the grades, and the cross country bus never stops at our bus stop).

Everybody knows about Victoria. I’ve known about her since 3rd grade. The conversation went something like this:

“I’ve been dreaming about a girl.”

“Which one? Amanda? Nora?”

“No, no, you don’t know her. Her name is Victoria, and I don’t think she lives here.”

“Oh, okay. You want to play G.I. Joes?”

“Okay.”

I did think it was weird he was dreaming about a girl he’d never met before, but hey, those Cobra goons weren’t going to smash themselves.

As we got older, I would ask him where she lived, what her surname was, and any other information besides what she wears or what she likes. He always told me he didn’t know.

We grew up, graduated high school, went to college, graduated college, got jobs, lost jobs, and then found some more jobs. Edgar never stopped dreaming of Victoria, and I never stopped listening to him.

Recently, he told me he thought she might be getting closer, as he dreams were getting more and more vivid. The conversation went something like this:

“I think she’s getting closer.”

“Who? Abby? Sarah?”

“No, Victoria. I think she’s getting closer. The dreams are getting more vivid, and I’m starting to dream about her during the daytime too.”

Oh, okay. You want to play GTA five?”

“Okay.”

I did think it was weird that he seemed to know she was getting closer, but still didn’t know where she was. But hey, those missions weren’t going to complete themselves.

Then one day, the cross-country bus actually stopped.

And Victoria stepped out.

Everybody who saw her stared at her as she walked down the street. Mrs. Robles was so shocked at the sight of her, she dropped all her groceries and crossed herself. Before she could ask anyone anything, everyone pointed in the direction of Edgar’s house.

When I saw her, I immediately ran to Edgar’s house. I found him hiding under his bed. The news had reached before I had.

“What are you doing? She’s here. Victoria is HERE. YOUR Victoria.”

“I know.”

“Then why are you under the bed?”

“I’m scared.”

“Of your literal dream girl? That’s absurd.”

“What if she’s not at all what I think she’s like? What if my dreams are just an enormous coincidence and this girl is nothing like what I’ve dreamt? Or worse, what if she’s exactly what I’ve dreamt, but she doesn’t like me? I’ve never had a real relationship because I’ve always assumed she was the girl for me? What if she doesn’t agree?”

“Okay, that actually makes a lot of sense.”

I got under the bed with him.

 “You know, people have been pointing her to your house.”

“Wow, none of this is helping me. At all.”

There was a knock at the door. He looked at me.

“I’m still scared.”

“There’s only one way to beat that fear, buddy.”

Edgar sighed and came out from under his bed. I followed him as he answered the door. He took a deep breath, and opened the door. Victoria stood on the other side, looking just as Edgar had described her.

“Hi, I’m Edgar.”

“I’m Victoria,” she said, “but you knew that already.” She smiled.

Edgar relaxed. “You’ve been in my head for as long as I can remember.”

She pushed a lock of her hair behind her ear. “Yeah, you’ve been in my head my entire life, too.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, but you’ve gotta get out. You’ve been giving me some wicked bad migraines.”

About the Author: 
Born in California to Mexican immigrant parents, Adan Jimenez became an immigrant himself upon moving to Singapore. He has written many children's books and short stories. He loves comics, LEGO®, books, movies, games, Doctor Who and sandwiches, and one day hopes to own a store that sells all these things.

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Quantum Theories

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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”.

A is for ... Act of observation

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 ... Information

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

U is for ... Universe

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

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.

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!

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.

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.

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 ... Computing

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

K is for ... Kaon

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

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.

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.

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.

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 ... 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.

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.

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.

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.

G is for ... Gluon

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.