Preggers in Time

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     I am a twenty-five year old female and have been with a man once in my life.  I was eighteen and the event was an utter disaster.  Neither of us knew what we were doing and I have not considered doing it again. 
     Before you laugh or cry for me, consider the fact I am a physicist much more interested in quantum entanglement than the bodily form.  Work keeps me from allowing my hormones free rein.  Sure, I sneak peeks at nice looking men as much as the next woman, but know I have no chance with them. I am homely with thin stringy hair, the result of faulty genetics and an idiopathic abdominal malady.  Being smart does not help.  Not only that, but excessive height is not attractive to the short men most likely to be found inhabiting the labs at Cal-Tech.
     Horatio Simplot, called “Ratio” by the few friends he actually had, was a world class nerd.  He lived, spoke and looked like one.  His head was smushed like it had been squeezed in a vice, his hair a funny pewter color and falling out even then.  My interest in him was odd, as I think back on it.  I was compelled to the experience the moment I first saw him.  It seemed a safe way to find out what it was all about.  In a way, I am grateful to him, though I might as well have been wallowing with a wombat.  After that, I gave up worrying about personal relationships and concentrated on new theories in quantum physics.  Entanglement and quantum teleportation had become all the rage, the new paradigm for those of us with brains.   
     I have one real friend, Janice Pratt.  We are similar in many ways, mostly of the asymmetric kind, with narrow faces and large noses.  We find solace in the fact that we don’t have to compete on the social scene for anyone’s attention.  We have been engrossed in a project designed to demonstrate how macro objects might be entangled and transported without using all of the energy in the universe. 
     We have a good working theory and were pondering it with several blackboards full of algebraic squiggles when Ratio appeared out of nowhere.  I hadn’t seen him in seven years, but was not surprised by his appearance.  He had not changed, still slipped around like an Indian in socks, making not a sound on the tile floor.  I’d always wondered about that.
     He stared at our blackboards, shaking his head here, nodding there.  Finally, he stood before me, pewter hairs slicked back, smushed head unchanged.  With a movement too casual to have been unplanned, he poked me in the belly with his index finger.  “Let me know when it arrives.”  I blinked and he was gone.
     “What was that?”
     I’d forgotten about Janice. 
     “I’m not sure.”  A cold sweat swept across my forehead.
     “Right.  That’s why you’re shivering?”
     “I may be sick.”   
     The dreams started that night.  Vivid, colorful, high definition and senseless.  Except for one.  I remember them all in the finest detail and knew from my mother’s own description they were typical pregnancy dreams.  Raging hormones battling for dominance were not without side effects.  This could not be happening.  But it was.  I was going to have a baby. 
     Three weeks later, wondering how to make contact with Ratio, I looked like a hippopotamus.  Sitting on the edge of my bed, I bent over as far as I could to relieve a cramp.
     “You’d better get here soon, you rat.  I need to go to the hospital.”
     “Let’s go then, my dear.”  Once again he appeared as if by magic, but I was in no mood to wonder about it.  Intense labor had come upon me as fast as the pregnancy itself.  I got up and fell toward the door holding onto his arm.  The next thing I knew, I was in a hospital bed with a small, beautifully pink child wrapped in swaddling, searching my breast with its nose.  Ratio stood smiling down at me.
     “I suppose you’d like an explanation?”
     “Ya think?”
     “Entanglement allows for much.  You’re about to make the greatest discovery of all time.  You’ve been entangled with me for seven years and the baby has been waiting.  I made the discovery long ago, on one of Earth’s early lunar colonies.  The day we fumbled our way to consummation was the day little “Ratio” was conceived.  He did not begin the enhanced growth cycle until I kick-started it.”
     “Lunar colonies?  We don’t have lunar colonies.  What is going on?  Who are you and why have you chosen to pick on me?”
     He sat down on the only chair in the room, pushed my medicine carriage with all its hooks, bags and tubes aside and let out a breath. 
     “Yes, it is time.  Indeed, that is exactly what it is.  Time.  Once a species discovers how to control entanglement and teleport throughout the universe, time becomes irrelevant.  It all happens much like the original inflationary process, instantaneously.  You only age if you remain in your place of birth, and if you keep moving you might live forever.  I could have taken you with me back then, but you needed to be at least twenty-five.  It is the ideal age.  I picked you because you were healthy, as homely as myself, and not likely to become entangled with any one else.  Sorry.
     I threw my food platter at him and was picking up a pink water pitcher when the nurse intervened.  He stood there, a wry smile on his face.
     “The child is the price you have paid for your soon-to-be universal fame.  In return, I receive genetic immortality.  Seems fair to me.”  
     I returned to the lab carrying little Ratio, handed him to Janice and started re-writing our equations.  Janice stared at them, wide eyed.
     “How … ?
     “Don’t ask.  The universe is an open book.  Where would you like to go?”           

About the Author: 
Gerald Lane Summers has authored two historically based action adventure novels set in the old west. He is a retired lawyer, juvenile court referee, writing teacher, and raconteur.

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Quantum Theories

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 ... 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 ... 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

I is for ... Information

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

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.

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 ... Gluon

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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!

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.

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.

U is for ... Universe

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

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.

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!

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.

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.

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 ... 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!

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.

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.

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.

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.