"A WINDOW TO GOD"

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Growing impatient, the cat started tapping the mans’ face, his growls unheard, along with the beeps from the Cesium alarm clock just a few inches away. Linked to the Official World Time centre in Boulder Colorado, nearly all clocks now operated to a degree of accuracy and level of efficiency that seemed only to highlight just how random and inefficient their human charges were. On this morning, Schrödinger was in vocal and violent agreement. The girl two doors down in his habitation block had thought it so “cute” and “smart” that he had called the cat Schrödinger, given his line of work. He used think she was “cute” and “smart” too, he never pointed out that it was statistically a forgone conclusion that someone in his line of work would call his cat by that name, he cursed himself for his lack of imagination, and made a mental note to start calling it Erwin. One time, slightly drunk at Christmas, they had even placed the cat in a box closed the lid and sat staring at it for 40 very accurate minutes. The cat did not attempt to get out of the box, choosing instead to go to sleep. Giving up on sleep himself the man reluctantly got out of bed, walked to the food prep area and flicked the switched on the kettle, Schrödinger pleased with this progress purred and rubbed attentively round his legs. The Columbian themed coffee ‘sensation” that passed for actual coffee these days offered more in the way of stimulation than taste, he pondered why it was so much easier to synthesize once naturally occurring caffeine than naturally occurring flavor, poor Schrödinger didn’t fair much better, the man had no idea what was really in the unpleasant smelling slop labelled “Duck and Rabbit” on the packet, but he did know that rabbits had long since been relegated the category of vermin and no one had seen a live duck in seventy five years. Still, he was more alert now, that was the main thing, for today was a big day, a very big day, the usually reserved national press syndicate claimed it to be the most important day in human history since the invention of the semi conductor, the less reserved private tabloids talked about reinventing the wheel and communing with God directly. Incredible to think that an offhand quip by his team leader seven years ago, would have proved so enduring, when asked what the realization of project C-21 would mean for mankind she had replied: “Nothing less than a window to God”. Well, it was a catchy line the man had thought, I bet her cat’s called Erwin. The downside of all this was the desperate attempt by the main faith groups to claim jurisdiction over the C-21. The World Government science faculty responsible for the machine was strictly secular, and would not bow to public pressure, despite intimidation, protests and even the brutal murder of two faculty members. The man himself had no faith, in fact he found it depressing that organized religion persisted at all, surely it should have withered and perished, long ago, extinct, relegated to history along with the ducks. He had once had faith, or at least he thought he had, but that vanished when he had to watch his father die slowly of an unpronounceable disease, a disease that God had either invented, or genetically predisposed his father to contract. The C-21, named after the century in which it was first conceived was to be the world’s first functional, practical multi Q-bit quantum computer. The Holy Grail of computer science since “Moore’s law” became “Moore’s wars”, with a race to unlock the potential of the very peculiar properties of the quantum realm, he didn’t really understand it, in fact his team leader said pretty much the same thing, the counter intuitive world of spin, entanglement, super-position and quantum symmetry was practically unknowable, all that mattered was that it worked, and he had a hand in making that happen. A nano- engineer rather than a quantum physicist, he was one of the people tasked to construct and maintain the machine itself, real world tasks on a classical level, his father had never approved of his work, he thought there was something dishonest and potentially dangerous about messing with things that couldn’t be seen, not honest work for a son of his. Ironically the machine could be seen, it occupied a whole room, despite it’s incredibly intricate and sensitive components it looked more like something that belonged in a garage, designed to produce home made cider rather than unlock the secrets of the universe. Today, after years of painstaking work the window to God would open, what wonders might be seen the man thought as he patted the cat on the head and opened the door to leave. The origin of the universe revealed, the cure for cancer, the meaning of life? Only time would tell, assuming time as we understand it continued to exist, or mean anything and he would be there to see it, and make sure others could see it, if it truly was a window to God, then he was a window cleaner, honest work. The man hoped his father would have approved.

About the Author: 
James A Hodgkins is a graphic artist and designer, he has no scientific background what so ever. "A WINDOW TO GOD" is the first story he has ever written, in this universe at any rate.

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Quantum Theories

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!

G is for ... Gluon

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

U is for ... Universe

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

K is for ... Kaon

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

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

R is for ... Randomness

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

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 ... 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.

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.

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.

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”.

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 ... Act of observation

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 ... 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.

I is for ... Information

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

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.

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.