Thinking Out Of The Box

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I thought they’d kill me right away. I mean, a woman materialises out of thin air in the same room as the President, holding a firearm no less, what else would they do?
 I don’t have much time, they’ll be here soon. I’m sending this message out into the ether just in case anyone picks it up. I’m warning you, if they can lie on this scale you can’t believe anything anymore. Nothing is what it seems.
It was relatively easy. When we heard about the President coming to NASA and Peter and Paul wanted to go public to coincide with his visit, I knew I couldn’t let them. The lab was buzzing with the idea that we’d be the first, the harnessers of the most important scientific development since they split the atom. It was game changer, a Nobel Prize winner, the first day of the future. Only, it wasn’t. It would have been a lie, a misrepresentation of the facts on a massive scale. I didn’t want to be remembered for my part in some elaborate magic trick. I was too close to the real deal. But they wouldn’t have it and, as it has pretty much always been since Herschel, the men got their way. 
They have no imagination these quantum boys, they literally can’t think out of the box. The cat’s in two states at once but only when it’s hidden in the box. Okay so that’s a bit basic, but my theories are so much more elegant, so much more organic. Peter and Paul couldn’t even guess at their complexity. They wouldn’t even look at my work on superluminal compression. Use nature, that’s what my first professor told me and I’ve never forgotten it, it’s what brought me so close.
Luckily, I started frittering away my files before they locked me out altogether. I used a thermos flask to transport the crystals and the odd bit of hardware and started building it at home. The advantage of everything being so tiny is that it’s easier to steal. Once I realised they were planning to freeze me out completely it was no surprise to me that one day security refused me entry and took my pass. From the car park I could see Pete looking down at me from his office, he just stood there with his arms folded and then he closed the blinds.
They haven’t invented a teleportation device. That’s what they were going to say it was but it isn’t; it’s a glorified Xerox machine.  Not much better than a 3-D printer. They thought we should use a cat (see, no imagination) and after a few ‘dicey’ results we got it right. The cat was in two places at once! But then it was also two cats; identical in every way except one, the look in its eye, like it had no memory of being alive before. It just sat there mewling pathetically. It behaved instinctually of course, it ate and drank and peed and slept.  It appeared to be normal but we all knew it wasn’t. It was as if it didn’t have a past, which of course it didn’t. We kept trying over and over but it was always the same. A lot of cats ended up in a sack at the bottom of the ocean believe me, no-one on the staff wanted to take them home, there was something weird about them. That’s where they were when they got rid of me but I bet the outcome is no different now. It’ll just be a 3-D copy like all the rest.
So I thought if a copy of me appeared waving a gun at the President, they’d shoot me and then, when it was all over the media, I could come back from the dead and stage my only little press conference. I would expose them and their ‘teleporter’ for the sham that it is, discredit Peter and Paul and nab the funding for my Luminal Acceleration Compression Expansion Device (LACED – neat huh? Peter and Paul couldn’t come up with anything as cool as that for a name; their thing is just the ‘teleporter’). It didn’t quite pan out that way.
The cat was scheduled to be transferred at 11.59 so I figured I should go at 12.01 just as everyone was fussing over the inadequate puss. I made the call – it really is as easy as using a cell – and I felt nothing. It was like nothing had happened.  I was standing in my basement at the time of my death feeling no ill-effects.
I’ve watched the NASA footage over and over. At 12.00 when he picks up the cat and everyone is applauding Peter makes a theatrical gesture with his arm towards the ‘teleporter’ and I appear. It’s as if he knew I was coming but that’s impossible, he couldn’t have, no-one knew except me. I wave the gun, which of course I don’t know how to use, and everybody laughs.
Now I’m watching myself on Fox News. I’m all done up, designer clothes, shiny hair, red lipstick! I’m telling everybody how we’ve invented a teleportation device and changed the course of history. Peter and Paul sit on either side of me like the cats that got the cream.
They’re coming. I can hear footsteps on the drive and I can’t help wondering what is going to happen to all the originals.
 
***FILE CORRUPTED***……………………………….

About the Author: 
I am a short story writer and novelist and have no scientific experience. I am a co-founder of Rattle Tales short story co-operative www.rattletales.org

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Quantum Theories

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.

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 ... 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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

I is for ... Information

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

A is for ... Act of observation

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

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.

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.

R is for ... Randomness

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

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.

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.

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.

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!

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”.

U is for ... Universe

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

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.

Q is for ... Quantum biology

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

K is for ... Kaon

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

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.