Jason's Moment

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Jason was just another quantum tourist on the Science Factory Strip. Around him in all directions, other quantum tourists gaped at buildings, stared at storefronts, or stepped inside to try games, simulators, replicators, multi-sensory facilities, or virtual realities. They perused tour books, queued at concessions, and moved and acted like tourists everywhere.
 
But they were not like other tourists. In a long forgotten past, the quantum tourists had embarked on a special tour, a one-way journey through a series of ‘moments’ that would raise them to ever higher levels of excitation and stimulation. The moments became all-consuming to the point where the tourists lost touch with their origins, each other, and even their own identities and existence. They cared only about the moments they were in and lived only for the ones to follow. And now, for them and for Jason, the final moment would come on a city street, called simply the Science Factory Strip.
 
So far Jason was not impressed. He sat alone on a cold city bench and picked up his tour book. He matched its pictures with the Strip’s street scene in front of him. The Golden Spheres Laboratories Building, a garish, mirrored edifice with protruding orbs and rings that rotated day and night, merited three stars in the book. Next to ‘the Labs’ stood the more highly rated Brent-Wallace Building with its massive prisms and holographic projections. It attracted some younger gawkers. On either side of the street as far as Jason could see were grotesque structures, each trying to outdo the other with their ‘innovative’ use of building technology. In fact, this part of the Strip earned the highest recommendation in Jason’s tour book, a prime pick. It was ‘the best free show in town.’ But Jason saw little to hold his attention. This is nothing.  I don’t get it.
 
Jason shut his eyes. He could still see the buildings, street, and throngs of tourists. He brought his index fingers towards his closed eyes until they blurred and rested on his eyelids. He withdrew his fingers and watched them come back into focus. Then he reopened his eyes. Cool, very cool, but the tour book promised much more in the hours to come.
 
Jason twisted his fingers around the slats of the bench and braced himself against the chill of the west wind. As the sky took on its pallid evening hue, the luminosity of the images about him increased in perfect sync. Colours gradually became more vivid, sharper, piercing, pulsating. The crowds too intensified, drawn by the tour book’s promise of a night spectacle that would be ‘second to none’.
 
‘Second to none’? Jason smirked. Yeah, right. So too, would be ‘first to none’ or ‘third to none’ since the book says it defies comparison.
 
Night fell. The action picked up. Images flashed on the sides of buildings, in the sky, on the street, and in any and every open space or void in the air around him. They were impossible to escape, impossible to avoid, whether his eyes were open or shut. Each pattern and shape and each brazen, dazzling display competed with its rivals to grasp the mind’s eye. Bigger, bolder, brasher, faster, more vibrant, sensuous, searing in intensity, infinite in variety, they created and recreated impressions and sensations, a relentless, virtual flood, drowning out the backdrop of the edifices and street.
 
Overwhelmed, overloaded, numbed, Jason’s mind was locked in a madly shifting, frenetic world. Disoriented, he lay on the bench like a boxer stunned by a blow to the head. He tried in vain to find some cohesion, some logic, something, anything that he could hold for more than a second.  He began to shake. Shivers were followed by uncontrollable spasms that spread throughout his body. The chill of the west wind engulfed him. 
 
Jason drew upon all his internal powers to refocus his thoughts. Yes, some simple arithmetic, for starters, then basic algebra, followed by integral equations, and on to more complex concepts and calculations. He gave himself the ultimate test: a survey of theories and applications of quantum entanglement. His faculties were intact.  No gaps or contradictions appeared in his reasoning. His mind was sound; he could survive this.
 
Elated, he sat up. I can leave here. I do not have to be here. I have free will. I can choose to leave.
 
Yet, the mindless images persisted, an amalgam of endless lights, glare, and unrelenting madness. Randomized and senseless, the beams and colours seemed to travel through him at will from all directions, until he was unsure if the emanations came from inside or outside his body. 
 
His instincts told him he must concentrate to escape. He tried to recall elementary trigonometric functions, to construct triangles in his mind and relationships, but even those simple tasks were now beyond him. Jason once again slumped across the bench and pressed its cold, hard slats against his forehead.
 
I can choose to leave here. I can go. I am not here. I am somewhere else. I have to go.  I can go, I can…but his thoughts dissolved in a sea of colours and images and were lost. 
 
Daybreak on the Science Factory Strip was subdued and forgettable. The stores had not yet refreshed their games and simulators. Gone were the spectacular effects of the night show. The streets were close to deserted. Indeed, the tour book said it was ‘best to avoid the post-dawn hours.’
 
On a cold, hard bench, a solitary figure lay prone, motionless, vacuous, and indifferent.  It was a presence of some kind, no more, no less. The passers-by did not notice it. There was no reason they would, or for that matter, to assume they could. One young man though was convinced he caught a faint, passing glimpse of a person on the bench. His wife rolled her eyes.
 
“You’re always seeing things, Jason.”

About the Author: 
After graduating with a science degree in mathematics, I embarked on a career that would take me in many other directions. Still, my first love will always be science. .

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L is for ... Light

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N is for ... Nonlocality

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F is for ... Free Will

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R is for ... Reality

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M is for ... Multiverse

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B is for ... Bell's Theorem

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T is for ... Teleportation

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W is for ... Wavefunction

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I is for ... Information

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A is for ... Alice and Bob

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G is for ... Gluon

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R is for ... Randomness

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Q is for ... Qubit

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K is for ... Kaon

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A is for ... Atom

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V is for ... Virtual particles

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

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U is for ... Universe

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J is for ... Josephson Junction

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R is for ... Radioactivity

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Y is for ... Young's Double Slit Experiment

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U is for ... Uncertainty Principle

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S is for ... Schrödinger’s Cat

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I is for ... Interferometer

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S is for ... Superposition

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W is for ... Wave-particle duality

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E is for ... Entanglement

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O is for ... Objective reality

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D is for ... Dice

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H is for ... Hidden Variables

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X is for ... X-ray

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M is for ... Many Worlds Theory

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A is for ... Act of observation

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