Schrödinger's Battle of the Bands

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the nathaniel p. biddle senior high school auditorium. now. 
 
I think I’m going to crap my pants. 
 
Someone taps me on the shoulder to let me know that sound check is in five. Is that enough time for me to dive into the restroom? Maybe. Thinking about it is wasting time. I probably have four minutes now. This is the worst. 
 
It’s anxiety, you see. I have a terribly nervous stomach. My worries go straight to my bowels. Don’t look at me like that. Go read Everyone Poops, you bigot. 
 
Maybe I should have named the band that. Everyone Poops. It’s not like anyone’s going to take The Angry Cat Gifs any more seriously. Hopefully Lueda likes my band name. No, wait, hopefully Lueda likes my band.  Was she even into post-hardcore? I keep meaning to ask her about it, but I don’t want her to start listening to Chiodos or Emarosa and then find out we don’t sound nearly as good. 
 
“Jonah! Get on vox!” Will yells from behind the drum kit. 
 
There go my five minutes. 
 
the nathaniel p. biddle senior high school auditorium. also now.
 
My music is so good it’s going to save the world.
There was no way we weren’t going to win the prize tonight. The lineup was weaksauce. Bunch of pop-punk outfits. None of them as technically ambitious as my band. 
 
I mean, you could tell by their names alone.  Just look at the poster. The Fuzz. Deep Blue. Bears. Do any of those guys sound nearly as awesome as Jonah and the HeuristiCats? No way. I mean, maybe if they all put their names together they’d sound interesting. The Deep Blue Fuzz Bears would be kind of clever. 
 
But then they’d have the problem of being just another pop-punk garage band, and not a sick math rock band like mine. I wonder if any of these guys had ever even heard of TTNG. Lueda totally did. I mean, I’m not sure she does, but there’s no way she couldn’t. The way she dressed, the way she spoke, it all was so cool. And smart. I mean, she reads both Chuck Palahniuk and Klosterman. Mathcore bands should totally be her thing. 
 
If she comes tonight, I’m gonna ask her out. I bet she loves Hayao Miyazaki films. 
 
the nathaniel p. biddle senior high school auditorium. still now. 
 
I keep worrying I’m gonna forget my rhymes. 
 
I tried writing them down on my hand like Eminem in 8 Mile, but when your palms start sweating the ink smears and it’s useless. I don’t remember that happening in the movie.
 
Sound check in five minutes. Should I have my hood on all night? Or just when I’m onstage? It’s probably best I keep it on all night. Gotta maintain my persona. I don’t want anyone seeing Jonah from AP Calc up there. It’s just MC Def Kat droppin ill verses on the mic. Let them marvel at my mild-mannered alter ego in class next Monday. 
The A/V guy gives me the Stank Eye when I hand him my bulky O.G. iPod Classic loaded up with all my beats. Probably doesn’t respect the fact that I’m not playin’ a guitar like all these other scrubs. He’d probably be crazy surprised to know I made those beats myself. 
 
It’s all gravy though, I dig the hate. It’s just more ammunition, ya feel? I can use anything that’ll keep me on my toes. Hope Lueda passes through. Tonight’s performance is gonna be dope. What was it grandma told me just before I left the house?
 
“Mira chico, don’t forget your swagger.”
 
I taught her that. My grandma’s pretty thug.
 
the nathaniel p. biddle senior high school auditorium. probably now. 
 
So I was really looking forward to this show, but this is definitely way more exciting. 
 
Most of the gang is on stage. I make my way towards them as the stage hands hurry past, carrying chairs, speakers, and whatever else they can find towards the doors to form barricades. I make a quick count. Five heads. A little more than half of The Menorah Cats’ full roster. 
 
“Where’s the horn section?” I ask.
 
“Grabbin’ the rest of our gear!” Will shouts above the racket. 
 
Well, Jonah, this is it. I take a deep breath and lean on my mic stand for support, wondering if Lueda had managed to get out in time. The emergency broadcast drones on, warning everyone to stay indoors, remain calm, etc., etc. You know, everything you’d expect in a time like this. While everyone else in the auditorium freaked out, calling home and barricading doors, we put our instruments together. Not for playing, though. 
 
The zombies were coming. But it was okay. My bandmates and I, we’d been preparing for this all our lives. 
 
Let them try and say Ska is dead after this. 
 
the nathaniel p. biddle senior high school parking lot. moments before now. 
 
Lueda Aponte kissed her dad on the cheek before she opened up the passenger door and stepped out into the chilly night air. Her friends Ozzie and Kym waved to her from the entrance closest to the auditorium. 
 
“Ohmigosh, you made it!” Kym gushed after Lueda hugged them both. “I think sound check is just ending, I think they’ll let us in soon.”
 
“Great!” Lueda smiled. 
 
“Do you know anyone performing?” Ozzie asked as they walked towards the auditorium doors.
 
“I have a lab partner, Jonah. I think he’s in some sort of band, but I’m not sure what kind of music they do exactly.” Lueda said. 
 
“Oh yeah?” Kym said. “Think they’ll be any good?”
 
“Who knows?” Lueda laughed.  She leaned forward to open the auditorium door. “But I’m ready for anything.”

About the Author: 
Joshua Rivera has an irrational love of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and an irrational fear of downward escalators. Other than that, he's just like you. Probably.

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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.

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!

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.

I is for ... Information

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

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.

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 ... Act of observation

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

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 ... 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.

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.

U is for ... Universe

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

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 ... 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 ... 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

K is for ... Kaon

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

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!

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.

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.

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.

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 ... 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.

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.

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.

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.

G is for ... Gluon

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

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.

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.

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.

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 ... Randomness

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

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.