Schrödinger's Dog

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Rass Janney was watching the wall-to-wall TV coverage of the impending quantum teleportation when his holophone popped his wife’s face into the air two feet in front of his own. He was annoyed, but not at her.
You can bank on science reporters never getting it right. The lab had made sure to send out a meticulously correct press release in preparation for the unique event. Yet here they were, these talking heads, tossing sound bites to each other in their corporate news studios, or letting their token reporters “report live from the site”, the lab facilities klieg lighted up behind their shoulders. And they were all spouting not-quite-factual data (“... the heart of a comet, quantum connected with a specifically defined space/time in the lab...”), or utter nonsense (“... the serious possibility of the formation of a minute black hole ...”). Even on the few channels where tomorrow’s event was not headlining at the moment, the news tickers had it wrong, proclaiming that the government was massing forces around the lab and its neigbourhood, implying that there may be civil unrest sparked off by outraged leaders of faith who feel that Rass and his team were playing God.
He quickly composed his face into a smile. If Beth spotted his irritation, she would give him the third degree, relentlessly interrogating him about who upset him, why they upset him and how he could manage in future not to be upset again. He loved her and admired her fierce protectiveness of him, but having a sense of occasion had never been a strong suit for her.
He also switched off the sound of the various channels. Holophoning worked best with low ambient noise. The neat thing about it though? You could look right through your caller’s image at what was behind. He could pay attention to her, to the indicator lamps on the quantum oscillator and the entanglement augmentation tubes directly behind her, as well as to the array of TV stations on the wall, all at the same time.
She asked about the usual things.
Yes, the team all were very excited. No, everything was on track. He would probably be home late, as the last minute calibrations and checks had to be done at least six hours before the event. No, of course there was no chance of black holes or any other catastrophe. The math was solid and though not yet the Grand Unified, the theory of relationships as the smallest quantum scale object held up robustly ever since its development shortly before the Higgs boson finally was observed.
But then she dropped a bombshell.
“Did you get the surprise you promised for Summer’s birthday?”
The next few moments’ fight to maintain equanimous facial control was one of the hardest of Rass’s life. He had told his five-year-old daughter a surprise was coming. It was her birthday tomorrow. She was crazy about animals and he had hoped to swing by a pet store to get her a bunny. He had reassured Beth his work would not interfere with this mission. The pet stores were all closed and now there was no way he could get her anything, what with what lay ahead in the next day.
Desperately he cast his mind about for a way out, keeping his face calm and composed. On the wall, many TV channels showed the aerial view of the lab facilities, shot live by a local company’s news helicopter. CNN was breaking away from that story, showing the faces of wailing children, soldiers tearing their puppies out of their arms, and mongrels being rounded up in city streets. The news ticker declared: “Chinese government’s latest mass extermination of dogs”. BBC seemed to be having an interview with the Palestinian leader, most likely about the hostage crisis in Israel. The indicator lights on all the equipment flashed reassuringly green.
The brilliant idea birthed itself completely and instantaneously in his head.
“Yes, of course, dear”, he answered, excused himself as quickly as possible and popped the phone off with a flick of his finger. Then he set to work, first calling all of his team back to the lab.
 
*
 
For the sake of the media, Rass pushed a button. In reality, the moment of switch-around of entangled quantum relatedness between here and there, ramped up to this massive macroscale by the augmentation algorithms, had been powering up for several hours already.
The designated area shimmered in deep ultraviolets for a moment and then a mangy-looking dog, its left ear tattered, sprang into existence.  It shivered and then whined softly. Rass sighed in silent relief. Whether this dog, transported from a holding facility in China awaiting euthanasia, would arrive alive was the one thing he could not be sure about.
The world erupted in rapture. The rest of that day’s events became quite blurry in Rass’s mind. The President spoke to him on the holophone. A reporter asked him an irrelevant question about rabies; he laughed, waved at the camera and moved on. Somewhere in all of this Rass’s boss pumped his arm talking about the genius of combining animal rights with their cutting edge world-changing technology. Rass was on top of the world – immortal fame and being the best dad in the world vied for top spot. Being his happy daughter’s father won out.
 
*
 
Rass and Beth switched off the light in their daughter’s bedroom. It was half an hour before Summer’s usual bedtime, but she was so exhausted with happiness she could not keep open her eyes a moment longer.  Tatters -- her new best friend -- was curled up nose to tail on his basket in the corner.
In that first moment of darkness, before they turned away, they did not see the dog raise its head and point its dry nose at Summer in her bed, a growl starting in its throat and the first dangly thread of slobber erupting from its jaws.

About the Author: 
Dr Strauss is a psychiatrist in general practice in Abbotsford, BC, Canada. He has always loved science fiction and Stephen King; and is fascinated by quantum field theory.

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Quantum Theories

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

R is for ... Randomness

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

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.

G is for ... Gluon

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

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.

U is for ... Universe

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

I is for ... Information

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

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.

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.

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!

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.

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”.

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.

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.

K is for ... Kaon

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

A is for ... Act of observation

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

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.