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“So what’s the story with that one?” The newcomer nodded at the immobile form slouched in a booth.
The bartender smiled knowingly. “He’s been coming in for years, regular as clockwork every Friday evening. Never seen him quite so melancholic though. I’m run off my feet here with the boss’ Quiz Night. I’m telling ya, this event will be the death of me. If you’re feeling charitable, why don’t you buy him a drink?”
The newcomer sat up straighter. He had just been promoted and his wife had given birth to a baby girl. Life was looking good; he could afford to be generous. “Give me two Corona Extras, Mike.”
Bearing the Coronas, he sauntered over to the man and slid onto the worn leather seat opposite. “It’s lonely drinking by yourself. Have one with me. I’m Irving, by the way.”
The man looked up, his blood-shot eyes ringed with dark circles. “Do I look so pathetic that you have to buy me a drink?”
The newcomer was taken aback. “Hey, no offence. What with Christmas coming and all, I just wanted to show goodwill to men, you know.”
The man took in a shuddering breath. “Sorry, my mouth gets the better of me sometimes. Thanks for the drink. Haven’t had a Corona in years.” He lifted the bottle to his chapped lips. “Cheers.”
“So what brings you here...I don’t know your name?”
“The name’s Max.” His eyes flitted around the room and his voice dropped to a whisper. “I come here to escape from her.”
A puzzled frown knotted Irving’s eyebrows. “Who’s ‘her’? And why is she after you?”
A tired smile flitted across Max’s sallow countenance. “’She’ is my wife. Was my wife, I should say. We’ve been divorced oh, it must be coming to twenty years now. She dumped me for her colleague - he was going places, she said. Implying not so subtly that I wasn’t. After she upped and left, I tried getting on with my life. It was tough but I was determined to show her I could lead a happy and fulfilling life without her.” His shoulders slumped. “Well, as it turns out, I couldn’t.”
“Why not?” Irving demanded. As an auditor, he held steadfastly to the belief that one could do anything, as long as they followed the proper steps, that is.
“I was a sorry mess when she left. Got fired at the gift company where I worked. I would burst into tears and you don’t want your delivery man crying when he sends the hampers or flowers for a wedding or a christening. They didn’t like it even when I cried at funerals. Not sincere, they said. Why, you didn’t even know the deceased.” He sighed. “After several months of moping around the house, I cleaned myself up and found a job. On my first day, I found out that my supervisor had the same name as my ex-wife. What was worse, her secretary and my ex-wife had been schoolmates. I put it down to an unfortunate coincidence. But to this day, I don’t know why my supervisor had it in for me. She would send me to non-existent locations or people who didn’t order anything and each time I returned to the HQ, the she-dragon would be screaming at me while her secretary smirked at her desk. Those were the days before mobile phones and GPS so I used up a lot of petrol, burning up the roads.”
“What odd behavior,” mused Irving.
“You haven’t heard the worst of it,” Max grumbled. “I left the gift company after a year; my eardrums were beginning to hurt even at home. Moved to a courier company and the next thing I know, I was sending weekly packages to my ex-wife’s office. Bumped into her and her fancy man on several occasions. If we’re alone, he would make sly digs at my inability to hang onto Angel but if she was around, he’ll be all goodness and light. That slimy fraudster! He’s a smooth operator, I’ll give him that. Didn’t stay long at the courier company. In fact, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve changed jobs but the outcome’s the same. I always end up being connected to Angel somehow - it’s as if our fates seem to be inexplicably intertwined.” He gazed sadly into the dregs of the golden liquid still fizzing valiantly albeit feebly in the bottom of the bottle.
A sudden thought struck Irving. “Hey, my company may need a driver. One of them resigned; in fact, I just attended his farewell party two weeks ago.” He pulled a napkin towards him. “Here, let me give you my company name and its website address. We’re a small SME and no one’s called Angel.”
Max brightened up. “Thanks! I’ll check it out.”
“That’s great!” Irving eased himself reluctantly out of the booth. “It’s getting late. I’d better leave before the wife kicks up a fuss.”
“Nice meeting you, man,” said Max.
“Me too. Hopefully, your life and Angel’s will take separate paths from now on. See ya around,” Irving replied.
Slotting his key into his front door, Irving whistled happily to himself. He opened the door to find his wife with a finger on her lips. “Shh...you’ll wake the baby.”
Tiptoeing into the master bedroom, he gazed down at the bundle curled up in slumber before grabbing his towel and heading for the bathroom.
“I met your GM at the supermarket earlier the evening,” Irving’s wife said. “He said to tell you he finally hired someone to take over as the Finance Manager.”
In the midst of brushing his teeth, Irving made an inarticulate gurgle.
Irving’s wife was used to her husband’s taciturnity and prattled on. “She’s got quite an unusual name. It seems more suited for someone in Marketing or Communications than Finance. She’s actually called Angel, can you believe it?”

About the Author: 
Cassandra Yue has been scribbling away in notebooks and scraps of paper from a young age. She currently works as a freelance writer and editor.

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Quantum Theories

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.

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.

R is for ... Randomness

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

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

K is for ... Kaon

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

I is for ... Information

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

G is for ... Gluon

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

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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”.

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

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.

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 ... 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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 ... Universe

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

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.

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.

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.

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.