Quantum Volleyball

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Thursday September 26th was finally here. It was the day of the biggest crosstown rivalry. Tonight, Newton High School was playing Darwin High School in volleyball. These teams developed such a deep rivalry over academic competition especially in the sciences. Newton High was well known for their strong education in physics, and Darwin High was known for a superb biology program. Since last year’s loss in the state finals for volleyball, the Newton High Waves had been thinking of countless strategies to help them beat the Darwin High Islanders. The captain of the Waves, Jessica, discovered something quite fascinating while working late in the physics lab one night. No one knew about her discovery until the night of the game.

The game was refereed under Mr. Ty Buxman, one of the greatest physicists of all times. The Islanders took the court for a warm-up. They were fierce. The Waves were watching every serve, pass, set, and hit. Every play was run with precision and strength. The match would be a close one.

The timer on the scoreboard was counting down from minutes to seconds just as Jessica disappeared to the locker room. She ran back in the gym with a brand new volleyball. She handed the ball to the referee, and he checked to make sure that it was appropriately inflated. It was game time.

Jessica got the ball back from Mr. Buxman; the Waves gathered in a huddle before Jessica’s first serve for a quick pep talk. Jessica walked back to the service line where she bounced the ball a few times and stepped further back. She spun the ball up very high in the air; left, right, left and she was off of the ground. At the tallest point in her jump, she smacked the ball over the net and down on the other side of the court in between two players. The Islanders stood there in shock. It was as if the ball was not visible after her contact with the ball. Even the players on the Waves were skeptical, but too thrilled to question a first-point ace.

Her perfect serving continued. At 5 points, ref Buxman called a time out. He brought his down ref and 2 linesmen in for a chat. Perplexed, he asked the other refs if they noticed what he was seeing. This unexplainable disappearance of the ball had the refs’ heads spinning. Mr. Buxman stopped and thought about what was going on. He figured that with enough force, she could serve the ball over the net, and let the ball travel in a cloud on the other side of the court.

Slowly, Buxman concluded that there was something different about this ball. It was, in fact, behaving like a particle-wave. How? The ball left Jessica’s hand, then, it was gone. No one could identify exactly where it was, until it hit the ground. The ball was a wave; there was no sense of where the ball was until its path was disrupted. One could only hypothesize the line of travel of the volleyball when evaluating her approach and arm swing.

Jessica used this ball perfectly. She was using this technique because the Islanders wouldn’t be able to make sense of it due to their limited knowledge of anything that isn’t biology. This particle-wave concept made no sense to them and was the perfect execution of an intelligent plan. Even though Jessica’s fellow teammates were not involved in her plan, they went along rejoicing the points.

The Islanders realized that there was no way to precisely put a location on the ball. Their passing form took on a whole new style. The traditional two arms forward becomes flailing arms wide open just hoping the ball would make some sort of contact with their body. The crowd was confused. How could a well-known team play so poorly? They were diving all over the court just trying to get the ball up. Fortunately it worked once and the Islanders scored a point.

Absolutely mind blown by Jessica’s manipulation of the ball, Buxman sat down. He didn’t know what to do. Was this cheating? Innovation? Fair? Pure genius? He contemplated this for a while.

After deep thought, he has an idea. Mr. Buxman evaluated the ball and noticed that if he could collapse the waves of the ball, it would behave like a particle. However, his seemingly obvious thought didn’t work. He couldn’t collapse the waves of the ball because the waves coexisted. When he canceled out one wave, another appeared. Each point was a fierce battle. The game became more of a diving match than a skill competition. The close game ended with the Waves winning 3 games to 2 games with a final score in the third game of 18-16! It was one close rivalry game!

About the Author: 
I am a senior in high school. I love volleyball and physics.
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Quantum Theories

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

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U is for ... Universe

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

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.

G is for ... Gluon

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

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.

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!

I is for ... Interferometer

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O is for ... Objective reality

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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.

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

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I is for ... Information

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

J is for ... Josephson Junction

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M is for ... Many Worlds Theory

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D is for ... Dice

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M is for ... Multiverse

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W is for ... Wavefunction

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Q is for ... Quantum biology

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S is for ... Schrödinger’s Cat

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R is for ... Reality

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D is for ... Decoherence

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L is for ... Light

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H is for ... Hidden Variables

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R is for ... Radioactivity

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V is for ... Virtual particles

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T is for ... Tunnelling

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X is for ... X-ray

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E is for ... Entanglement

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F is for ... Free Will

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R is for ... Randomness

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C is for ... Cryptography

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L is for ... Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

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A is for ... Act of observation

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P is for ... Planck's Constant

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P is for ... Probability

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A is for ... Alice and Bob

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S is for ... Schrödinger Equation

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G is for ... Gravity

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N is for ... Nonlocality

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S is for ... Superposition

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C is for ... Computing

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A is for ... Atom

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Q is for ... Qubit

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K is for ... Kaon

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