Curious Cat

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Preston was never exactly ordinary; from a young age; he was known as brilliant, ever since diapers. At the age of two, he started reading novels. Some of his favorite books were about space travel and quantum theories. When he was five, he enrolled in high school. His mother was constantly worrying about him. While he was at school, his mother obsessed over him losing his innocence in the jungle that is high school.
Preston, in the other hand, was as enthusiastic as ever. He wanted to learn everything he could.  However Preston, standing at four feet tall, would often get trampled in the halls. People would not notice him, and would close doors on him. This did not discourage him; every day, he would come home with a smile on his face and a perfect score in his hand.
In school, Preston met his best friend Sofia. They walked together in the halls, ate lunch and studied together. Preston graduated with a 4.0 grade point average. His mother was overcome with happiness. After high school Preston went to an Ivy League university. Even though he was in college, Sofia would often visit Preston; they were still the best of friends.
Soon after Preston finished his first year of college, his mother became ill. He then wanted to drop out to take care of her. His mother told him to stay in college and focus in his education; she though dropping out would have horrendous consequences. He stayed in school to make her happy. Preston ended up graduating with a PhD in physics. He got a job at a local lad and installed a lab in his basement. Following, his graduation, his mother passed away. He became depressed; he lost his best friend. He began searching online about immortality. “She has to be alive” he thought. While researching he came across a thought theory by Mark Tegmark. It involved a lethal weapon and a device that measures the spin value of photons. Every ten seconds, the spin value of a fresh photon is measured. Conditioned upon that quantum bit, the weapon is either deployed or makes an audible click. He started thinking about his mother being alive again; he became overjoyed. He called Sofia and asked her to come over. Upon her arrival Preston told her everything, about his mother dying and his thoughts about quantum suicide. How you die in one world but live in another world? Is that even possible? Sofia took in everything he explained and without thinking she would give him an idea, she said “why don’t you just do the Schrödinger's cat thing”. Preston stood there looking at her; she could tell he was taking it into consideration.
            “Preston I was only kidding.”
            “No Sofia that’s a great idea.” Preston started pacing around the room.
            “But how?” Sofia got worried and sat down with her head in her hands.
            “What did I do?” upset, she tried getting Preston to forget about what she had said “c’mon lets go get something to eat” Preston was still pacing around the room.
            “How long has it been since you ate anyhow?” he paused then began to think. Sofia grabbed Preston and urged him out the door. “You’ll feel so much better once you’ve eaten.” They walked to Sofia’s car, she opened the door for him, and he got in. She walked around the car and got in. “Put your seatbelt on.” They started driving to an Indian restaurant up the road. Preston pulled out his phone and googled: Schrödinger's cat. He would need a large box, along with a device containing a vial of hydrocyanic acid.
            As they arrived at the restaurant Preston slipped his phone in his back pocket. Throughout their meal he would pull it out and look to see if he could attain any more information on the experiment. Eventually, he grew tired of hiding his findings from Sofia and spoke “I’m going to do it.” Sofia slammed her fork down and rolled her eyes.
“Sofia if you support me as much as you claim you do, you’ll stand by me. Please” Preston boasted as the check was placed on their table.
“I can’t it’s too risky” his best friend mumbled.
“I’m doing it” Preston placed two twenty dollar bills into the check folder.
Sofia sighed and got up from her seat “I guess I’m supporting you,” she cried as the two left the restaurant.
            When they got to Preston’s lab he strolled over to a cabinet and pulled out a big jug. “Acid?” Sofia question regretfully.
“Acid.” Preston reassured.
He raced over to a wall lined with drawers and out of one of the pulled a vial. While wearing gloves he stingily dropped acid into the vial. When the vial was full he began constructing a large box that would soon be his coffin.
When the box was completed he gingerly placed the vial in a corner. Just before entering he grabbed Sofia’s shoulder, swallowed and confirmed his reasoning.
“I have to do this Sofia, I have to” he said
“I know” Sofia replied
The two hugged and Preston interrupted by saying “I have to stop now; before it gets too tough.” He kissed his best friend on the cheek and climbed into the box.
“See you in the next universe.” Preston mumbled.
Sofia nodded. She was too upset to speak.
Preston shut the box and Sofia sat back and starred for hours until it became too much. As she gathered up the courage to leave she went up to the box, kissed the top and whispered “ see you in the next universe.” As she trotted out she spoke to herself nine words that forever stayed with her “I was never good at coming up with ideas”

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Quantum Theories

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 ... 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 ... 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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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 ... Universe

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

K is for ... Kaon

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

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.

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.

A is for ... Act of observation

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

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 ... Randomness

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

I is for ... Information

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

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.

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.

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 ... 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!