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.

Alice and her friends first discover the quantum technologies building because of the poster exhibition-- in undergraduate-speak, free food. It's a cool place, what with the backdrop of glass doors with blue bubble motifs; or, for the more literal minded, the poster proclaiming the low temperatures reached in the macroscopic quantum phenomena labs. Because Alice, Bob, and Eve are the Tom, Dick, and Harry of cryptography, Alice can't help but do a double-take at the quantum cryptography posters.

"But don't you need entangled pairs at this step, since you're testing for the violation of Bell's inequality?" says Luke from physics, spewing crumbs at the presenter in his excitement.

Alice makes little sense of their discussion, with the the '<'s and '>'s encasing the Greek symbols, and the multiplication signs with circles drawn around them. It feels like the *Star Wars* clips Alice had found online after watching Episode I on television. The names of Alderaan, Dantooine, and Coruscant had just flown by her head, and she'd only remembered the Emperor proclaiming, "The strings of the Force grow taut, Lord Vader, and soon we shall play a tune upon them." Alice had felt like one of the troops: simultaneously clueless and awed.

*

"Why the frown, Alice? Pining after Bob?" says Luke, when they're using the corridor as a shortcut. In retaliation, Alice mimes a Force choke at him, and her lips quirk up as he pretends to gag.

"Introduction to quantum computing," Luke reads off her smartphone screen. "Signing up?"

"After you guys complained about losing your mental virginity after the physics test screwed everyone?" Alice is wary. It'll be more work, and she's already struggling to maintain her A- average.

"It's quantum computing," Luke says. Before Alice can add that it's worse-- she's never touched a transistor in her life-- he continues, "At that level of abstraction, quantum bits are conceptually more accessible than, say, solving for the wavefunction of the hydrogen atom."

Alice is tempted by the thought that the key to the mysteries in the poster-filled corridor lies within reach. Alice feels the same itch that had led her to watch all the *Star Wars* movies in one sitting, to understand the enigmatic comments that had felt somehow significant. Besides, the lecturer claims that no prior knowledge of quantum physics is required, so she takes the quantum leap and signs up.

*

It's fun to have solved the mystery of the angular brackets. Alice stops fearing that her physicist friends are about to conduct a laundry raid when she hears them talking about bras, and she learns to associate kets with vectors rather than furry clawed beasts.

Alice feels like she's gazing upon the Rosetta stone: one part the quantum concepts of measurements and states, the other familiar linear algebra concepts of matrices and vector spaces. Instead of imagining a tiny ruler next to a nearly-invisible particle, Alice now thinks of Darth Vader rhapsodizing about the infinity of space and the boundlessness of the starscape, wondering if these *Star Wars *guys were actually closet quantum physicists.

It's not so fun when she can't do the assignment.

"It's a standard inner-product calculation." Luke says, after a glance.

"Just because I can parse the hieroglyphs doesn't mean I can speak Egyptian," Alice grumbles. It annoys her, having to plough through the unfamiliar expressions, knowing that the question would be easy in another notation.

The upside is that the formulas enhance precision. Before, Alice's least misleading explanation of entanglement particles was to cast them as each other's voodoo doll: stick a pin into one, and all the others will feel its effect. Now, at least, she knows why quantum teleportation using entanglement is more moving tensor product signs than cable-tying an object to a gleaming metallic machine.

Whether that represents an improvement in her life is questionable, though.

The night before her numerical linear algebra exam, Alice finds herself commenting on an article describing the effect of a measurement on a particle's "entangled partner".

“It's misleading,” Alice says to Luke over Facebook. “Not all two-photon states are entangled.”

“Neither are all entangled states two-photon states,” Luke agrees.

“The reporter must think entanglement is like the red thread of fate that supposedly ties lovers together," Alice replies, pleased at having made a valid point.

The next day, during the exam, she mistakes the '+' denoting the matrix pseudoinverse for the 'dagger' physicists use to denote the Hermitian. Alice can bid goodbye to her A- average.

She storms through her usual shortcut, furious at the waste of last night, the waste of an entire semester.

But that's the same corridor where Alice had overheard a discussion about a quantum estimation algorithm for plugging holes in gene expression matrices; where Alice'd somehow googled her way to an argument that Bohr's interpretation of quantum physics is consistent with neo-pragmatist irony, and even a film about a quantum love story. She can't ignore the possibility of a state of non-wastage.

For now, looking at the posters, Alice can at least say that it's been like extending a hand to the towering, hairy bipeds of an alien planet without having her arm torn out at the socket or clawed open at the point where palm meets paw. It'd been scary, but now, looking at the references to Bell's inequalities and Bloch spheres, she gets to think, "Ah, we've met."

It's like having a single dragline that stretches across the web of knowledge, the one thread in the tangle of fate that Alice can follow, in the words of the young queen from *Star Wars*. It amuses Alice, the notion of a correspondence principle between quantum physics and *Star Wars*. It's as if beyond one of the glass doors lies a distant galaxy, where the queen is forging an unprecedented alliance between the two historically antagonistic races of the land, towards a victory that lies just slightly beyond the horizon.