The Games We Played Played Us

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A crackling fire. Once foreign constellations shining above. Faces of varying ages all peering at the wrinkled man standing in the fires light. One of the younger, still bright eyed ones, works up the courage to finally ask. "Tell us the scary story again! Please pleaaase!"
"What is worse, Men or machines?"
"Early on it was the machines we demonized through our movies and stories. We shared a common assumption that one day the machines we made would undo all that we built. That wasn't the case at all."
Simulate people. Play God. Have fun!
"It started out as an innocent game.  It gave us all a break from the reality we inhabited. I was 13, by the aging system of the day, the first time I played. Even at that tender age my heart knew I was wasting precious time. Time that could be better spent chasing girls, learning to play ball or pursuing knowledge of any kind. After a month I gave the game away and to live as I hadn't before. Come to think of it that was the month my lips tasted another's for the first time. Those shuddering, glossy lips altered the course of my life. Maybe that's why we're here."
The wrinkles on his brow deepened and silence reigned.
"The first generation was played on early computers." The little one mimicked this foreign word, "Kompootah." "The second generation was released around my twentieth birthday. The days of the computer had given way to super cellular phones, holographic tablets, and virtual reality sets. All over that blue globe..." His aged hand pointed to indistinct point in the stars "Helmets were being worn to escape into wild dreams."
Join Us. Live the Life. Live the Dream!
"It had evolved to become a worldwide massive multi-player dream world. Concerts were held with tens of millions in attendance, professional sports were viewed from the players’ perspective, and virtual vacations became all the rage. We wanted more... Seeing and hearing weren't enough, we wanted to live it..."
His voice trailed off but his eyes grew wider. Behind their yellowish exterior life on a distant place flowed out of them. They conjured themselves into a ball and rolled down his cheek, the wrinkles acting like ditches watering parched crops.
"Grand Pa..." The little one began speaking once again, "Why do you talk so funny?" Her mother puts a hand over her mouth. 
"The system developers became rock stars in the eyes of the globalized populace. Whatever they dreamed up became the must have experience for young and old alike. The porn industry..." "What's porn?" Another little one asked. The old man continued, his mind still diving ever-deeper into the ocean of his experience. "Hastened the development of all the technologies, pushing them almost into the world of reality. Governments, always slow to adapt, joined the party later. Warfare became completely digitized. Clunky robots fought fleshy foes in third world countries, while their controllers sat in plush chairs a world away.
“The world was no longer a silicon empire but an invisible quantum network enveloped the globe. The atrocities committed by those in power were broadcast by elite hackers. The world didn't care. They were too caught up in their own narcissistic elixir to care.
By the time my thirtieth birthday came around the world had changed forever. There was no going back to the old ways. The developers had found a way to entangle the synapses of man to the processors of machines. Immortality, they said, was just around the bend."
We can all live forever, we can all learn everything. Welcome to the future!
"It wasn't all smooth sailing. The first test subjects all lost their minds during or shortly after the transfer. The machines just couldn't handle the massive load of the human brain. One scientists', previously heralded as the Einstein of the developers, moon walked across the entire state of Nevada after his machine lost his mind." "Grandpa... what's a Einstein?"
"Almost everyone at this point had a job within the developers’ world. Money would be transferred digitally, cash was absolved completely. People would occasionally log out to walk their dog, if they had a real one, or attend a funeral. People like me, the reality trekkers, were outcasts. The developers found jobs for us though as well. We would fix machines, cables, and coded while the rest of the world grew lazy, bulbous, and immobile.”
“The ultra rich lived with a foot in both worlds. Day-by-day they too would become more machine than man. But underneath the steely metal their human impulses still raged on.”
“On my fortieth birthday I lost my freedom. They had already figured out how to extend life indefinitely. They also extended their subjects perception of time as well. Years inside the game were mere hours outside. Those of us left outside the game were considered threats to the established order.”
“The developers became modern pharaohs, living, metal clad immortals among mere digitized mortals. They had become all powerful; they knew everything there was to know. They had access to anything, anytime, anywhere. The world they had created became all too convincing simulacrum. People no longer wished to live without it. True reality was but a nightmare.”
“There was no cake for me on that day. No candles or ice cream. They tracked me down and loaded me into a skytrain.  Silky gas filled our lungs and the deep sleep began.”
 “Later, after the awakening, we realized for decades we had been sleeping. Their technology had perfected the art of sleep. Our fleshy bodies were frozen and stored with the other reality trekkers and sent here, prison colony GJ1214b. This is where my life began anew. Trapped in a domed prison of the stars for the rest of time."
 Silence filled the camp. The blue lights on the back of their heads began to glow as the fire dwindled onward into the nothingness. The developer guards would be by soon.

About the Author: 
Joshua Nieubuurt is a silver tongued devil from the land of the United States of America. He currently teaches English in the land of the gods, Okinawa, Japan.

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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.

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”.

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!

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 ... 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 ... Randomness

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

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.

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.

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.

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!

I is for ... Information

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

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 ... 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

G is for ... Gluon

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

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!

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.

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 ... 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

A is for ... Act of observation

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.