He Was Falling

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And there he was… sitting on a wheelchair in the top of the sea cliff.   In that wheelchair where everything turned, turned, and stopped. Where his body levitated from place to place, like if he was a ghost that nobody could see. That pair of wheels that did not serve him to kick a ball, nor to feel the dirt below his feet, nor to run from those who punched him and made his head spin until he would fall.
                And he noticed that the sky was orange, maybe a refraction of a port far away across the sea, city lights that drifted up and down through low clouds and brighten the sky. Those ephemeral lights that served as bait for his deepest desires. He wanted to fly far, far away from that damned island, so he placed the brake on his wheelchair and his body started to tremble  head to waist. The dark was a witness of his never ending struggle.  And he was trembling… and so his legs. -But how? -  His feeble legs were giving him ground. He was doing what he had never done. He was feeling what he had never felt. His feet were grazing through the grass. And it felt like a never ending wave of particles crashing on his soles. One step, he felt the wet bunkum of dirt and sea-breeze.  Just one step...  and he found himself in the edge of that sea cliff, that abyss he feared the most. So he looked down; he could hear and see the waves roaring like a thousand lions as they were thumping against the rocks…those sharp rocks. So he looked and kept looking like Narcissus did, the numbness became eternal. He was falling.
               And there he was, falling down faster and faster, so he yelled. Making figures in the air as his arms were jerking absent of control along his body.  His sweat was being swept upward by the air, streaming up his cheeks and into his hair. He could taste the bitter pain of bile settling on the base of his tongue as he was plunging with nothing but regret. His eyes were hurting, so he closed them. And he was falling, but he never reached the rocks.
               He woke up, and he was crying. Everything seemed better in that dream when compared with the dark room in which he found himself. He looked up and down, but he could see nothing but darkness. He could hear the sound of the crickets and the wind woofing through the defective old vents that made the room colder on hot summer nights. He even heard those waves thumping on the abyss; still, he could see nothing but darkness. Some people dream of flying, some people dream of love. He just dreamt of walking, running, jumping and tapping. 
               He went back to sleep, and this time he was an angel but he was blind. He could fly from house to house, and from tree to tree. He could soar his wings up and down pointing to the sky where everything was colder and more silent.  He could hear God talking to him with a warm voice that embraced his heart and made it beat slower. He could hear the Creator's voice and the songs of angels praising his creation. He could feel the touch of Virgin Mary on his head that appeased him over and made him, somehow, more innocent. Still, he was blind.
               He was blind so he woke up, and he was crying. Everything seemed better in that dream when compared to that room.  He knew it was dark so he didn't turn his head. And he was at peace with that, but the room turned colder and colder. So he held the covers over his head and went back to sleep wishing for warmth.
               He went back to sleep, and this time he was with someone, but she wasn't enough. He could feel her breasts over his chest and her buttocks on his hands. He could taste her breath and smell her body. She held his hands tighter than ever, and he pressed his lips around her entire body. She was perfect in soul so he mixed his sorrow with hers and corrupted her innocence. He poured his tears into her eyes and she cried with him. At the end she was perfect, but she was not enough.
               She faded away, so he woke up crying. Everything seemed better in that dream with her, than in that room.  His tears would only fall in the linen sheets, so he sobbed his cold away. And it was the morning, the room was clear, but not to him. And it was the summer, the room was warm, but not to him. So he went back to sleep. This time he dreamed of white fighting drops of gray. The specks of gray turned darker and darker until he dreamed of nothing.
               He dreamed of nothing so he woke up. He wanted to dream again.  So he went to that sea cliff that scared him the most. And there he was, where everything turned and stopped, where the sky was orange and the sea could roar.  He approached the edge of the abyss and watched eternally. He was falling, slower than before. He was flying. The thumping of the waves became a buzz that soon enough transformed into a song from a thousand angels. He felt the touch of the wind caressing his hair, pushing his sweat down, from his hair to his cheeks to his eyes. He was at peace, but he was falling. He was falling, but he never reached the rocks.

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Quantum Theories

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.

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.

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 ... 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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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”.

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.

K is for ... Kaon

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

I is for ... Information

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

A is for ... Act of observation

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

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.

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’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 ... 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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 ... Gluon

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

R is for ... Randomness

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

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.

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.

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.

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!