Inside-out Pudding Fingers

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As Dr. Gregory Hollinger looked down at it his own index finger oscillating back and forth rapidly, it reminded him of the Thaumatrope bird in a cage illusion; a simple, elegant optical trick involving a card with a bird on one side and cage on the other. The card, attached to two pieces of string, is quickly twirled causing the two separate images to become one. The free bird becomes imprisoned in cage. In the case of his wiggling finger, it appears to be in two physical places at once.
His mind became a jumble of incoherent thoughts. Wave-particle duality caused great interference with his visions of macro-membranes. Dr. Hollinger thought of the classical universe as a membrane like a pudding film over top of a glass bowl—only the film had also spilled down the sides of the glass causing the universe to appear to be accelerating rapidly. It also created illusions of parallel universes and strange calculations regarding dark matter and the speed of light. Dr. Hollinger had a hypothesis that the speed of dark was actually greater than that of light though his calculations greatly conflicted with that of Einstein.    
He turned his attention again to his monitor. The image emblazoned on the large 108” screen remained the same as it had the previous sixteen weeks; the walls surrounding him were a mixture of traditional and digital white boards with calculations only he and select few in the world could even comprehend.  What the calculations showed was remarkably clear evidence of the existence of preons. And unlike the speculation of the physics community, they were far from “point-like.” In fact, they were membrane-like in nature, much like a soft contact lens that could be flipped in either direction. However, those who wear contact lenses are keenly aware that there is only one “right” way to flip the lens to fit onto the eye. This seemed to be true for the newly discovered preons.
The discovery of these preons had now placed Dr. Hollinger and the 4600 workers at Desertron in a strange political conundrum. Desertron was initially designed to be the world’s largest hadron collider with a proposed circumference of about 87.1 km.  Officially, the project in Waxahachie, Texas was cancelled in 1993 after various investigations over out of control budgets and blatant mismanagement. Unofficially, however, Desertron was completed in 2002 and consisted of not one but two hadron colliders stacked on top of one another with the option to connect the two into a hadron spiral. Each collider had a circumference of over 108 km, dwarfing the collider at CERN. The Higgs Boson was actually discovered at Desertron in 2006, but kept a secret so as not to reveal the secret American collider’s existence. The discovery of preons, however, was many levels beyond the Higgs boson; Dr. Hollinger wondered how science could progress under such secrecy. It wasn’t just the discovery of preons that had Dr. Hollinger conflicted. The discovery was much bigger and much smaller than anyone could imagine.
Those who could understand the writing on the whiteboards would have considered it impossible at first glance, but there it was. Preons were dark matter and more astounding than that, they oscillated at speeds in excess of the speed of light. This dark influence caused light to behave as both particle and wave. It also caused particles to appear to be in two places. A particle could appear to simultaneously exist in a living room in Paris, France or the deepest, darkest realms of the universe. However, the calculations showed that there was only one particle, but it occupied dual realms. The particle existed in the quanta and in the classical sense. The preon turned out to be the absolute in terms of not just the smallest building blocks, but the largest as well.
Dr. Hollinger had more than enough power at his disposal to collide preons—the collider was now running 24/7 doing just that and the results were nothing short of incredible. The observer of a preon was observing both the quanta and the infinite expanse of the macro. The very small flipped inside-out was the very large; in observing the quantum, we are observing ourselves—the entire universe.
The question for now was whether or not to share this finding with the rest of the scientific world. While the Higgs discovery was kept a secret because those at Desertron knew that the scientists at CERN would at some point detect the Higgs Boson, this was starkly different. The large collider at CERN would never have the power required to reveal the secrets of the preon. If this were to remain a discovery under the United States jurisdiction, how could this benefit all of mankind? Do they reveal the existence of Desertron? Do they at least share with those at CERN and construct a rouse for the general public who would surely believe that the preon could be discovered by the large hadron collider? Once again, philosophy made its way into contemporary physics. Dr. Hollinger viewed the discovery as less than exciting—perhaps the chase was better than the catch; the pursuit of knowledge more fulfilling than comprehension in itself. 
Dr. Hollinger summarized the events in his journal, but he had already begun to view it as a suicide note. He wrote, “The very large and the very small are one in same. Our observance of the quantum has been previously influenced by the vast distance in which we observed it from. The quantum is like looking at the macro universe under a microscope. In fact, I can find this same macro universe in the spirit of each and every preon.”
His final entry was read aloud in his Eulogy, “It’s far easier, far simpler to imagine a supreme god magically creating the universe than what I find reality unfolding to be.”  

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Quantum Theories

K is for ... Kaon

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

A is for ... Act of observation

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

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.

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.

G is for ... Gluon

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

U is for ... Universe

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

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.

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.

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!

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.

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 ... 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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

R is for ... Randomness

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W is for ... Wavefunction

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