"If You Ever Liked a Bad Band"

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“If you ever liked a bad band, it would be a quantum betrayal.” She smiled when she said this, but she meant it. She felt this truth very deeply while having no idea of the larger implications of her words.
He knew what she meant, though not immediately. He was busy logging control levels on the main isolation console of their ship, continuously monitoring oxygen, carbon monoxide, fuel and charging, and a thousand other variables both inside and outside their bodies. Normally routine, but something completely strange was happening to his earth-bound readings, something that no training module on the simulator had ever prepared him for.
Their ship was a living thing, comprising infinitely parallel systems that rebuilt themselves constantly, closed loops where inputs and outputs coalesced, with waste materials from one process transformed into the raw materials for some other process. Even his screens were alive, so when they went dead, it was in a very real sense.
He was wondering how anything could explain the utter absence of earth on his readouts -- every transmission blank -- when her voice slowly intruded, as if delayed, and he looked up to just catch her finger pointing and to see her face staring at him.
He was on the other side of the watershed quantum moment of daily chemistry when the rest of the brain tricks the consciousness into thinking it has somehow "made a decision" as to what to focus on, when in fact a primitive wave of synchrony has crested and the consciousness has both fathered and been conscripted by an awareness.
She meant that their love was so complete, their interests so entwined, their outlook so complimentary that together they saw and heard and felt in perfect stereo, even down to the level that liking a bad band, or not liking a good one, would be an irreconcilable difference, a sign that their shared reality was no longer one reality. Imagine not liking Zeppelin, for example. What else would there be to talk about?
A small difference to be sure, but the small contains the whole, as the acorn contains the oak. DNA contains the blueprint from which two cells can construct a being. This moment contained the tree of the entire possible future, every leaf of it.
They were entangled: two blobs of water in a balloon of skin surrounding an armature of bone moved by opposing muscles, powered by chemical electricity, and controlled by a meat computer in their skulls. The entire system comprising the ying/yang of symbiosis. They not only both got goosebumps to the same part of Neil Young’s “Helpless”, the bumps were mapped in perfect unison to the exact same spot on their forearms. When splitting a dessert, they would nibble smaller and smaller bites, halving the remainder into infinity, ditto for wine, an infinitely regressing last bite, last drop. They even dreamed the same dreams, or rather, they were in each other's dreams, and dreaming the same thing. When he dreamed of a lunch with a stranger in an airport hotel, with a moth flying out of his ear and landing on his plate then conducting an orchestra with his little antennae, which in turn interpreted him into a sign-language the stranger understood, she dreamed she was sitting next to him, watching the same plate, the same moth, the same stranger.
“I love it when you put words in my mouth,” he said.
He had told her this before, and he now considered the implications that rippled outward. This is where things really got "quantum." If they had not liked the same music, not only would their perfect synchrony be out of tune, they wouldn't have met at the show and they wouldn't be here on this ship together right now. And there were even larger implications unknown to both.
They were two beings on the razor edge of forming a new species. About to descend into a valley of sorts, a geographical isolation that would lead to speciation. And if they hadn't liked the same music, not only would they not have met, mankind would have had no future.
Earth was gone. Whatever vestige of intelligence untouched by the nuclear war survived only long enough to be ravaged by the biological weapons and computer-viruses that followed, all electronic records subsumed in the "digital fire" of the aftermath. When particles arise into “being” out of nothingness, and then go back into nothingness, why it surprising that living beings do as well?
Everything on earth was back into the void. And since a quantum universe is only what is observed, what was left on earth to observe? And what was left to do the observing? What of this ship, this new cell with its hard outer shell floating out into the cosmic reaches?
If consciousness is the universe becoming aware of itself, it will always be a lagging indicator of reality.  Humans at that time had not understood that quantum effects were an inevitable byproduct of that. Because of their anthropocentric view, or rather DNA-centric view, the “point” of these biological systems seemed to be as host to a digital code that recombined and lived through them. But what was this code in service to? Ultimately only the observed was real. No life form on earth could know that the only planetary output truly "observed" was music until the universe itself became more conscious. Every living thing existed to create music in turn, to further transmit the musical meme. Even the living earth itself provided so much music on its own: the flutes of the wind, the bass drum of an earthquake, the cymbal hiss of an ocean wave.  Music had saved itself and the future of man with this couple. Ultimately the only thing transmitted from their world were those vibrations, their music, which went on to mate with the music of other universes.
(Translated from the Music, by the author)

About the Author: 
Brian Veit lives at Ocean Beach San Francisco with this girlfriend, dog, and three sons. He hopes to live long enough to see some of the Quantum paradoxes explained and to have his first written piece published. He would like to thank SciAm for such a fun contest.

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Quantum Theories

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 ... Computing

The rules of the quantum world mean that we can process information much faster than is possible using the computers we use now.

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!

J is for ... Josephson Junction

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T is for ... Tunnelling

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A is for ... Alice and Bob

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I is for ... Information

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

W is for ... Wave-particle duality

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S is for ... Schrödinger Equation

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P is for ... Probability

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T is for ... Teleportation

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D is for ... Dice

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Y is for ... Young's Double Slit Experiment

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M is for ... Many Worlds Theory

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H is for ... Hidden Variables

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S is for ... Schrödinger’s Cat

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E is for ... Entanglement

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G is for ... Gravity

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R is for ... Randomness

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Q is for ... Quantum biology

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C is for ... Cryptography

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M is for ... Multiverse

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X is for ... X-ray

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A is for ... Atom

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L is for ... Light

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A is for ... Act of observation

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Z is for ... Zero-point energy

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O is for ... Objective reality

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N is for ... Nonlocality

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K is for ... Kaon

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B is for ... Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC)

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B is for ... Bell's Theorem

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W is for ... Wavefunction

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U is for ... Uncertainty Principle

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G is for ... Gluon

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R is for ... Radioactivity

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U is for ... Universe

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L is for ... Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

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D is for ... Decoherence

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I is for ... Interferometer

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S is for ... Superposition

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F is for ... Free Will

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V is for ... Virtual particles

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P is for ... Planck's Constant

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Q is for ... Qubit

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