Uncertainty of the Jays, Certainty of the Ravens

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            Everyone had been anticipating the annual baseball tournament at Lincoln Park.  Teams had been assembled and had been practicing for the past six months in preparation for the big tournament day on September 16.  Of course, everyone in the city of Peppertown would congregate to view the small town’s local teams compete.  There were eight teams in the running, and three rounds of games to be played; each round, the team that lost the particular game was eliminated. 
            After much chaos, applause, and excitement, the second round had ended and the two teams left to play in the third round were determined: the Jays vs. the Ravens.  Individuals in the audience had been switching between different games throughout the day.  But for this game, everyone would congregate in the bleachers around the same field.  It had all come down to this. 
            The game went on to be a nail-biter; it was extremely close and the two team’s scores were never more than a point away from one another.  It was the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Ravens were batting and the Jays were on the field.   At this point, the game was tied, 7 to 7, and the crowd was going crazy.  The Ravens had accumulated two outs in the inning and there were two players on base.  Both ready to run for the win, Joey was on first base and Cameron was on third base.  As the next batter, Steve, walked nervously up to home plate, Joey and Cameron realized that this could be disadvantageous, because Steve was not the strongest of the team’s batters.  The two players on the bases surmised an alternative plan from across the field to increase their chances of winning the game.
            Since Jerry could only focus on either Joey or Cameron at one time, the players on base decided to take advantage of this by their teases of walking a few steps away from the base, making it appear as if they were going to steal a base.  After throwing two “balls,” Jerry became anxious.  Joey especially was teasing the pitcher, which initially took Jerry’s attention away from his pitching strategies, worried that Joey would progress to second base.  In addition, having two players positioned across the field was very enervating to Jerry, because he could not focus on the two players’ position and velocity at the same time.  In other words, if Jerry knew the position of Joey, he could not know the velocity, whether it be zero or not, of Cameron because he was not in the range of Jerry’s peripheral vision.  Accordingly, if Jerry knew the position of Cameron, he could not know the velocity of Joey, or how quickly he was running to second base, since he would not be able to see Joey.  As Jerry was preparing to pitch, Joey took off sprinting to second base, distracting the pitcher yet again.  As Jerry switched his attention over to Joey’s position, in between first and second base, the pitcher could not see Cameron leap off of third base into a full run, with high velocity, towards home base.  Jerry turned towards home at the last minute, and it was too late.  The Ravens had scored and the score was 8-7.  The crowd went wild and the Ravens all swarmed around Cameron, ecstatic that their hard work and dedication had paid off.  Jerry, of course, upset at the predicament he found himself in, was a good sport and congratulated the other team as he made his way back to the dugout. 
            Sometimes you might find yourself in a predicament that there is no way out of.  It would only behoove you to do as Jerry did and make the best of it.

About the Author: 
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy student

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Quantum Theories

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.

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.

R is for ... Randomness

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

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.

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!

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.

U is for ... Universe

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

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.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

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.

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.

K is for ... Kaon

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

G is for ... Gluon

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 ... 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 ... Act of observation

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

J is for ... Josephson Junction

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

T is for ... Teleportation

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