The Old-Fashioned Magic

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"Mail, Dr. Thymes."

He set aside his favorite mug emblazoned 'IQ: Infinity' and accepted his electronically-tagged name badge for tonight's conference, and … the package.

"Looks like Havaloc finally returned my lucky coaster."  He tore the box open.  "What is this?!"  His coaster, signed by the late Dr. Poe, was marred with a sticky coffee ring.  “Look closely, Nina.  This is the kind of barbarism we can expect from the Engineering Department.”  He had learned this bitter lesson.  Collaborate?  Never again. “Any note?”


“Probably sulking.  I don’t know what he managed to cobble together for his conference entry, but he’s doomed.  My research paper is sure to win the Golden Prospects Award.”  He set his empty mug on the coaster.  “You picked up my suit from the dry cleaners?  Packed my notebook for my presentation?”  Nina nodded.  “Good girl!  Ring a cab while I get ready.”  He loved having an obedient intern to keep life running smoothly.  

                        . . .

A half hour later Thymes returned to his office – and froze in the doorway.

His favorite mug was in two places at once.

Half lay on the coaster, the other half on the floor.

Rage stole his strength – he dropped to his knees next to the ruins.  He picked up the fallen piece and it crumbled into burning-hot powder.  He gasped and brushed the dust from his reddening skin.  

“Nina!”  He levered himself up against his desk and stared at the remaining half of his mug resting on a ruined circle of paper.  One incredible explanation rose through his shock.  

He heard Nina’s heels click by the doorway.  “Turn the light off.”  The sudden twilight revealed a dull red glow sweeping over his mug.  “That’s enough.”  

She tapped the switch again.  “Doctor?”

“Look at this.”

She came in and stared at his mug and the ash plume along the floor.  

“It’s beautiful.”  His voice was hoarse.  “I am the greatest genius the world has ever seen.  Look!  It’s being teleported.”

“But … how?”  

These days, he reflected, any moron can get a Doctorate of Physics.  “It’s a Qax, a quantum transmission that copies an object over a great distance.  The process is almost finished.”  He reached out and felt the heat radiating from the mug. “Havaloc must have tampered with my coaster and turned it into the delivery vehicle.  It links receiver with sender and contains the Qaxing nanobugs.  They are crawling throughout my cup, scanning and transmitting as they go.  A destructive process … but my mug will be reassembled by nanobugs at the receiver station.  Poof!  Modern magic.”

“Poof to his lab?”

“I doubt he trusts his departmental rivals.  Hmm.  The receiver is likely portable, sealed against contaminants, and large enough to fit raw materials and a camera to document the miraculous process.”  He beamed.  The Award was his; anyone watching this magic unfold would give financial tribute to his genius.  

“Haveloc is brilliant.”        

“WHAT?!  Now listen here, this is my triumph.  I came up with the recipe to make this happen, from energy input to the necessary capabilities of the nanobugs.  Anyone could have followed my calculations and built this.  He’s just a tool for my intellect.”

“Yes, Doctor.”

“Never partner up.  People are driven by greed!  Partners start out as a useful sounding board and before you know it they want equal credit.  Then they storm off and somehow lift copies of your encrypted notes.”  He paled.  “Now he can wave my mug around the conference and snatch the award from under me.”

“Oh dear.”

“Where’s that cab?”

                        . . .
They got into the conference building and spotted Havaloc lounging by the doors into Auditorium D.

“You,” Thymes snarled.

The attendant scanning nametags as the audience filed into the auditorium glanced at the three of them and frowned.  

“I see your creativity is as dead as your moral code.”

Havaloc smirked.  “True genius pursues every opportunity.”

Thymes surged forward and Nina pulled him away, holding tightly to his lapels.  “Security is watching.”

They were indeed.  “Nina, go inside. I won’t be long.”

She bit her lip, squeezed between them, and hurried for the door.

“I’ll give you one chance to escape justice.  Give me my mug.”

“What mug?”  Havaloc held open his suit jacket and spun around.  The device wasn’t on him.

“You expect to get away with this?  You stole Institute resources and my formula to build my teleporter.”

“I built my teleporter at home, with parts I personally bought, using a theory I developed during our lovely partnership!  Can you prove otherwise?”

Thymes scowled.  Everything was written in his private notebook in secret code.  Nina wrote every word he … dictated …

“Nina told you.”  That worm had corrupted his intern!

“Oh yes.  She was tired of being your PA.  I promised her an exciting career as my lab assistant.  She’s been so helpful.”

“I see.  You had your experiment shipped here and set up in the auditorium?”

“Indeed.  Nina is so well organized.  She took care of everything.”

His head throbbed, outrage pounding in his veins.  As a gentleman scholar, he had but one recourse.

He shoved Havaloc aside and rushed at the door.

The attendant waved his scanning wand.  “Your nametag, sir?”

He brushed at the front of the jacket.  Nothing.  “That vagabond lifted my tag!” To think, he would sink to old fashioned parlor tricks!

Havaloc gaped at the tagless front of his own jacket.  

The bitter rivals made eye contact and then they both turned to stare at the now-closed auditorium doors.  Nina was inside with the receiver and their entry nametags.  

They threw themselves forward, a combined 300 pounds of desperation bowling the attendant over.  They barged into Hall D and security tackled them in the entrance.  Nina smirked at them.

Over the sound of handcuffs clicking shut, Thymes heard the announcer at the podium. “Introducing Doctor Nina Torrea, with a groundbreaking demonstration of quantum-based teleportation.”

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Quantum Theories

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

A is for ... Alice and Bob

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G is for ... Gravity

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G is for ... Gluon

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

S is for ... Schrödinger Equation

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M is for ... Multiverse

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R is for ... Reality

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A is for ... Act of observation

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Q is for ... Quantum biology

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V is for ... Virtual particles

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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.

R is for ... Radioactivity

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L is for ... Light

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S is for ... Schrödinger’s Cat

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H is for ... Hawking Radiation

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T is for ... Tunnelling

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P is for ... Planck's Constant

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H is for ... Hidden Variables

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J is for ... Josephson Junction

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F is for ... Free Will

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R is for ... Randomness

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C is for ... Computing

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

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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.

Z is for ... Zero-point energy

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K is for ... Kaon

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T is for ... Teleportation

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D is for ... Dice

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B is for ... Bell's Theorem

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

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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.

X is for ... X-ray

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D is for ... Decoherence

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W is for ... Wavefunction

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E is for ... Entanglement

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