Graviton

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“At long last,” thought Dr. Hall, “We will finally quantize gravity.  By synthesizing the graviton.”  After years of research and experimentation by a group of physicists led by Dr. Hall at the LHC, they had finally discovered how to synthesize and prove the graviton’s existence. 
They discovered that gravitons are much like the Higgs Boson and in fact exist together in a ‘gravitational soup’ that creates the gravitational field.  So following the same process as for the Higgs Boson, they were going to smash particles together near light speed to try and dislodge a graviton from its ‘gravitational soup’ and quantize all of the forces. 
“Dr. Hall we are ready to begin the experiment,” announced Jonathon.  Dr. Hall did a small prayer under his breath and said, “Begin the particle collision.” 
Jonathon typed a short command into the collider’s main computer, and after a moment of silence amongst the group pressed enter.  At that moment millions of unobservable particles began to collide in the center of the LHC.
After a few minutes without a sign of the graviton, the group’s spirits had sunk and were about to give up on the particle. 
“Jonathon I think it’s time we power down,” said a grim Dr. Hall.  “It’s too early to tell Dr. Hall.  We just need to be patient, it’s going to work, it has to work,” said a desperate Jonathon. 
“Jonathon I said power it down!  It’s over, we were wrong!  Just give up!” screamed Dr. Hall. 
Beep. . . Beep . . . Beep.  The collider’s scanner picked up on something, the graviton.  Dr. Hall and the rest of the group were afraid to move, afraid that if they did, this moment would be over.  “Okay before any one moves, Jonathon check the readings,” said Dr. Hall.  Jonathon then walked over and scanned the results over twice. 
After reading over the results a wide grin spread across Jonathon’s face and he began to laugh and cry all at the same time.  “We did it!  We did it!” shouted Jonathon, “The graviton, we found it!  We found it!”
The whole room filled with applause and oblation.  Men began to fall to their knees and praise the Lord while others shook hands and embraced those around them. 
Dr. Hall stood before the group and gave a short speech, “Colleagues congratulations on behalf of me and the rest of the scientific community.  We have done what others have been trying for but failed to do.”
The room filled with cheers and applause. 
“But before we can confirm the graviton, we need to synthesize it one more time,” said Dr. Hall.  A disappointed sigh came from the group as they reluctantly returned to their positions. 
“Jonathon start the collider,” said a confident Dr. Hall.  Jonathon once again said a silent prayer and started the experiment. 
The group waited in anxious silence as the collider smashed particles together at high speeds, in an attempt to synthesize the graviton. 
Beep . . . Beep . . . Beep . . .
  A second wave of cheers filled the room as the graviton was synthesized once again. 
“Men we did it, we found the graviton.” cheered Dr. Hall, “Jonathon turn off the colli-.”
Beep. . Beep. . Beep. .
The collider’s sensor started again only faster and more sporadic.  “Jonathon what’s going on?” asked Dr. Hall. 
“I don’t know, sir the collider is picking up on something very dense, denser than we originally planned on the graviton being,” said Jonathon.  The collider continued its sporadic sirens and red warning lights had begun to flare in the lab. 
“Jonathon turn the collider off now!” screamed Dr. Hall. 
“Sir I did turn it off, but the collider is still picking up on the particle.” replied Jonathon, “Wait a minute, sir something, something is happening.  The particle is getting bigger.” 
The particle was getting denser and increasing in size.  The walls of the collider were being ripped away and sucked into the growing mass. 
“Dear God, the graviton has become so dense it is exerting a gravitational force equal to that of a black hole,” said Dr. Hall
“Sir what are we going to do?” asked a frightened Jonathon. 
The glass separating the lab from the collider’s chamber was beginning to shatter and were being sucked into the graviton. 
“Dr. Hall, what do we do?” asked the group of scientist in the lab. 
“I, I don’t know,” screamed Dr. Hall.  Dr. Hall furiously thought through how to get out of this situation, but no one had ever anticipated this. 
“Run.” whispered Dr. Hall, “Run, we need to get away from the gravitational field!”
The group took a moment to process Dr. Hall’s simple plan, and then, they ran.  Scientists began to burst from their seats and run for the LHC’s exits.  But it was too late.  The glass finally gave way to the pull of the void, and shattered. 
Desks and some of the slower scientists were pulled into the graviton and lost forever.  “Grab onto anything bolted down,” screamed Dr. Hall.  The scientists held onto anything nearby.  But only Dr. Hall, Jonathon and a few other scientists were left. 
“Dr. Hall what do we do now?” cried Jonathon. 
“We need to wait out the particle it can’t stay stable for long.  It should eventually decay and the black hole will go with it,” replied Dr. Hall.  The group held on for dear life for what seemed like hours. 
“Sir, it looks like the graviton is waning, I can feel the gravitational field weakening,” said Jonathon.  The graviton had just started to go in and out of existence, and the scientists were able to loosen their grips.  And eventually, the graviton completely disappeared and the scientists were finally safe. 
An exasperated Dr. Hall stood before the frightened group, “Men I’m so sorry.  We must have miscalculated somewhere.”
“What do we do now,” said Jonathon. 
Dr. Hall looked over the crowd, “We rebuild and start again.” 

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Quantum Theories

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

A is for ... Act of observation

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 ... Information

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

R is for ... Randomness

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

K is for ... Kaon

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

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 ... 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.

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.

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.

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.

G is for ... Gluon

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

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”.

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.

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.

U is for ... Universe

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!