The Quantum Democracy

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This whole afterlife thing came as... a bit of surprise. Once you live an entire life: grow, get married, produce a lucrative career, see children, grandchildren, great grandchildren... Once you live an entire life as well as you can, you forget what it means to die and the afterlife becomes more of an afterthought. It doesn’t matter as much as it used to. So it came as a bit of a shock when my time came and, quite simply, went. I remember I died and then I woke up, and that was it. I woke up feeling wonderful but something was ever so slightly off. It’s hard to describe. I felt like I was nothing. But I couldn't be nothing. Perhaps I was just... smaller and a part of something much greater. 
As it turns out, when a person dies they do not disappear or float into the sky, they only become smaller, to the size of a quantum and participate in a community that is made up of all the atoms and quantums that made up their soul. The human soul is really just billions of other lives who have died before. All the collective emotional impulses, the conscious thoughts, the artistic inspirations... everything that has happened before in the lives of others who lived and died in this world make up each and every soul. 
I remember waking up after dying. Einstein was staring down at me. He said that I sleep too much. I rose and stared at him in amazement and I realized I was surrounded by people who were long dead,  people I had admired and despised. Presidents, icons, popes, peacemakers, philosophers, artists, athletes... many of them quite famous and their works were well known to me. But there were many I didn’t recognize. There were billions whom I had never seen, but who I would soon meet and begin this afterlife with. For what seemed like centuries after my waking, I learned who these people were that made up my soul. I laughed with them, cried with them, loved them, disagreed with them, plotted against them, made fun of them, flattered them, flirted with them, even married some of them... but in the end we all learned to live together.  All events were subject to collective agreement. The soul is a democracy on the subatomic level. 
Much to my amazement, whatever I desired was provided for me. I had only to imagine something, and there it was. If I wanted to learn how to play the violin, one would magically appear before me and someone nearby would immediately offer to give me lessons. If I wanted a stiff drink, a bar would materialize and as I entered I would be greeted with cheers of friends I had never known, along with the best scotch I had ever tasted. I openly wondered how this was all possible, and Einstein tried to explain it to me once. Something about living on the brink between matter and energy where will and life are all that matters. I had asked how he had come to be a part of my soul and not someone else, “Surely there was someone else more worthy of such an intimate and grand possession as you?” I remarked. He laughed and answered, "My dear friend, it is not only you I am a part of. Besides, I do not chose who to 'possess.' My soul splits into billions of pieces, infinite quantums that spread throughout the universe and enter into the souls of many others. I am not only here, but also a part of your wife, a part of your children, and your grandchildren. Just as they share a thread of your being, so they share a thread of mine. One day we will all come together to build a great city, and we will live in peace, together, as a part of god.”
I loved this afterlife that my companions showed me. I learned more about everything that life could offer and I had such willing teachers. I even began to perfect my own story and its telling to others, as some small way of giving back. Then it happened that one day, there was a gathering like none before. It was a giant banquet, where all those who had formed this quantum community came together to feast. We filled a great table in a beautiful hall, brimming with fine food and drink. Everyone was there, and in the midst of the festivities I, curious, turned to a nearby companion and asked, "What is the meaning of all this?"
"Its a celebration!" she exclaimed, "Someone is about to be born!"
I learned that it was now time for the community to come together with me as the newest addition to form a new soul. There was a joyous huzzah as a light began to shine and a great wind rushed through the hall and with it, a baby's cry. 
I now live as a part of someone else. Our quantum community continues to thrive, and while we are quarrelsome from time to time we share an admirable peace. All the griefs and joys this child has are shared through each and every one of us. Its magnificent to see the spectrum of human emotion expressed through billions of quantum souls, one comforting another's sorrow, one celebrating another's happiness, one quelling another's wrath... And from time to time, the child encounters another quantum community of souls and in the sharing of relationship, I encounter myself. A mirror quantum in another person's soul. I'm told this happens from time to time and that I should take advantage of the opportunity to interview them and hear their experiences, but I find it is better to just sit and be with myself. Just to be present with this quantum democracy is greater than any afterlife I could have ever imagined.

About the Author: 
B. Jeffrey Vidt is a hospice chaplain in Akron, OH. In his free time, he enjoys writing science fiction and making wooden clocks.

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Quantum Theories

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.

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.

G is for ... Gluon

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

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’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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

I is for ... Information

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

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.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

U is for ... Universe

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

K is for ... Kaon

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

R is for ... Randomness

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

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.

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.

A is for ... Act of observation

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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 ... 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.

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.