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I found him in the morning at the coffee shop in the hotel lobby. It was his last stop before leaving the conference. To say his presentation last night was not well received would be an understatement. Few people get laughed off the podium at these events, however extreme their views may be. He was the exception. A heretic, with a wild theory, trying to warn everyone of an approaching nightmare. But he had absolute faith that theories were right. Oh how he believed. I had my doubts with his work but I had to admit there was something nagging me about his conjectures. Could he be right.

I seated myself next to him, silently sliding across the table to face him so we could talk more discretely and avoid any interruptions from the other patrons. “Sorry about last night, I tried to talk, but you left so quickly.”

He raised his eyes to meet mine and I sensed pity instead of the remorse I expected. “I did my best to make it clear to everyone. I can’t help it if it sounds crazy. The experiments and research shows that there is a tipping point. There is no other conclusion.”

He took another sip of his coffee and proceeded to give me his whole presentation in much simpler terms. “The tipping point is where the force of a belief manifests itself in reality. The so called self-fulfilling prophecy is an example but in the grand scheme of things, if enough people believe in something then it will happen.” Waving off my obvious retort he continued “No you cannot change the laws of physics, but you can influence the course of reality, not just history.”
My response was the same as most of last night’s listeners. “Sure the observer and the belief system influences reality but your conjectures go too far.”
“Why? Because I believe that society, as a whole, has the greatest ability to influence its reality and make the impossible happen. It only seems impossible looking forward, looking backward we can clearly see the path and the beliefs that got us here.”

“So hind sight is twenty-twenty, I accept that” I joked.

“Yes, but what everyone has missed is that the whole of society has never been aligned to one belief system or focused on one reality. That’s the tipping point. Once the majority of our society adopts a belief system or a focus, that belief will become the dominant effect on our reality. Before the age of the internet, instant communications and worldwide distribution of beliefs nothing could take a dominant hold and truly affect our reality. All these observations and beliefs tended to normalize and keep our society on an even keel. That’s not true anymore. In today’s world we are bombarded with information, news, books, movies and television. All of this influences our beliefs on a massive scale.”
While his eyes pleaded with mine to accept his viewpoint, I stumbled for words. “Ok, let me get this straight, If, we really believe it, then it will happen, whatever that is. Isn’t that just wishful thinking?”
“No. Millions of people play the lottery all believing they will win. But only one ticket wins so there cannot be a dominant belief system that creates a specific outcome. All my research shows a clear correlation of observance, belief and consequences. The larger the observance and the belief force, the more pronounced the consequences. The belief system of an individual does not have the force to affect any great consequence in reality. It’s too small to measure. But if you take the majority of our society and create in them a new belief system, then that can influence reality.”

This is where I thought I had him. “This sounds like science fiction to me. We live in a very causal universe where we can directly attribute any physical occurrence to a physical influence. What you’re asking me to believe is that these physical occurrences’ can be the result of some nonphysical occurrence”

He sighed and shook his head and with seemingly great patience restated his argument. “No you’re getting it wrong again. You’re looking at only the physical occurrence and not the shift in reality. As I said earlier, you can’t change the laws of physics but you can bend reality. Right now our reality is all around us and we believe it to be as it is, thus it continues as it is. But if the overall mass of belief in our reality shifts, reality will shift as well. The key is the amount of force in any dominant belief. Once we reach a tipping point, reality will bend.”

Giving up with arguing, I raised my hands. “So you really believe we’ve reached this tipping point as you say we have, then did you create the tipping point or did you push us over it? I mean you’re the only one that believes in this tipping point effect after all.”

For the first time I saw him stop to consider the implications. His eyes seemed to dart back and forth as though considering my words, then met mine again for the last time. “I hadn’t thought of it that way, this could all be my fault. The more I push people to believe in a tipping point, the more that tipping point becomes a reality and we create the very thing I’m trying to stop. It’s like telling people not to think of pink elephants and then all they do is exactly what you told them not to do. I’ve got to stop this somehow.”

That was the last time I saw him or heard from him again. The more he tried to stop the cataclysm, the more he made it’s inevitability. The world’s belief system was set on a collision course with a destiny we now believed in. A belief he had tried to extinguish and in the end ignited.

The first zombies appeared just outside Washington.

About the Author: 
Dave McNab is an electrical engineer working in the wireless communications, GPS and inertial navigation fields. Likes to write stories.

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Quantum Theories

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

U is for ... Universe

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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 ... Act of observation

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

I is for ... Information

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

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.

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.

G is for ... Gluon

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

K is for ... Kaon

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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”.

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.

R is for ... Randomness

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