The greatest Quantum Bank Robbery

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"We'd like to thank you. For your endless support. SEAOB has received 5 consecutive Gold 'Consumers choice awards', from 2067 through to this year. Thank you for making the Southeast Asian Online Bank your number one choice in virtual currency banking! As the President of SEAOB, I can say your undying support has helped us..."

 

It was an advertisement. John Wong places his remote control to his 3DTV down, and mumbles about hating listening to his own voice. CEO of the 'most trusted' virtual bank slumped back into a bean bag in a well-furnished office and mulled over what the phrase 'most trusted' even meant. Trust isn't even quantifiable, how'd they measure such a subjective opinion.

 

"Ok, back to businessy things" he says.

 

"2018, the virtual currency boom. Started with the BitCoin, the universal virtual currency. But, there were forces acting against the virtual currency movement. Infamous hacker groups attacked the databases and policies of the BitCoin in the name of it being an invasion of security. It was deemed an untrustworthy cause masterminded by governments to control the financial world."

 

I'm not denying anything though.

 

"As of today, the universal virtual currency in circulation is the QubitCoin. Praised for its stability as a platform, stemming from the great foundation and knowledge of quantum physics and quantum computing of the current era."

 

John had QubitCoin history memorized like a ting xie was tomorrow. He was nervous like there was ting xie tomorrow. In 16 hours, he had to explain to the press, his messing up. The mess known as the greatest quantum bank robbery.

 

 

"Tan Jia Yee, Asia Times Online. How much?"

 

"Umm... The closest estimate we can give is 6.8 million Qubits, almost 12 million erm.. US dollars." John was reciting instructional lines given to him in an earpiece. He reached to scratch his left ear.

 

"Putera Zachary for Berita Petang Sarawak. Who are the supects do you think?"

 

"I'll decline to... comment on that. Yes." 

 

"Bernadette Yeo, Straits Times. Will there be in-depth detail to how the hackers managed to steal that much money?"

 

Strange question. And she spoke so slowly unlike anyone in the room. She's quite pretty too. Oh shucks hold up. The room had been silent for a whole gut-wrenching, pin-dropping, walrus-punching, 15 seconds. John has no clue what the earpiece told him. He scratched at his left ear nervously.

 

"Errrr.... e..u.. No. We will not-"

The earpiece interrupted him with instruction contrary to what he had mindlessly blurted out. It even called him an idiot.

 

"So, the money just disappeared into virtual thin air then," She said. 

 

"Er no. We'd like to uphold the trustworthy status of the bank, and be as... transparent about the issue." Transparent and trustworthy my ass, wait till they hear about what we do with the money they give us. No one'll place any trust whatsoever in the bank that couldn't find 6.something million Qubits. Hmm... What ever did happened to the 6.something million Qubits? John was curios to find out what happened under his figureheaded nose. 

 

 

The font of the title was in typewriter. That's how you knew the report was serious. Also, "incident report" was that title and that meant serious business. John swiped the iPad screen left, to read the first page. He does so, paraphrasing, out loud, and on a bean bag in his office.

 

At 9:42pm, an email is sent to all staff at the bank with the attachment 'lol.dlm'. No one opens it, gladly since the email provider provided a spam filter. 

 

At 1:04am a quantum server facility in Dubai is broken into. The servers here house the phosphorus used in the quantum computing process, and they are responsible for the quantum firewall and antivirus programs for the several banks under the VirtuaBanks name, including, you guessed it, the Southeast Asian Online Bank. 

 

1:17am, Dubai police arrive on the scene to an empty building, and have discovered nothing stolen or tampered with. 

 

3:50am, investigators finally discover the motive for the break-in. A piece of phosphorus had been carefully engraved into, in almost random but seemingly specific patterns. There was a picture in the report and John likened the normally spherical ball of phosphorus to a ping pong ball after a fat child sat on it. 

 

With his limited knowledge on how quantum computing worked, John worked out the quantum mechanics of the whole scheme. The server senses electrons in the ball of phosphorus for spin up, spin down, and superposition- what is normally in classical computing ones and zeroes. And so by altering the shape, the thieves bypassed security and from an email, they cunningly stole a bunch of Qubits.

 

John was tired. He went to sleep. He was tendered his resignation the next day.

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Quantum Theories

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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 ... 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.

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.

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.

I is for ... Information

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

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 ... 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.

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.

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!

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.

R is for ... Randomness

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

U is for ... Universe

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

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.

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 ... 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.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

G is for ... Gluon

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

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.

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.

A is for ... Act of observation

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

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.

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.