Quantum Drive

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                                                            Quantum Drive
Patch expertly into the lane for the turnoff
I felt a familiar anxiety: knew where I was precisely, where I was going, but neither the speed nor direction(s) of my journey from a to b. (Incidentally how did I get into the collector lane that was assimilating me into a new three lane highway? I had no memory of the intervening interval.)
            Peek at the speedometer to ascertain my speed—yes, better merge into the fast lane while there’s an opening—yes, I was going at that precise rate (slight upward or downward arrangements at the traffic flow’s dictat) with a slightly hazy map of my journey but where? What destination was I speeding to at so determined a pace? For that matter where was I? No obviously identifying marks on a stretch of nameless superhighway, no Sudbury Nickel anywhere in view, no Wawa Goose, certainly no Taj Mahal—do I even have a Visa that would allow me to travel there? Do they have relatively modern superhighways?
            Concentrate. It’s unseemly roaring down the high speed lane in a stream of cars all of whom have destinations and not only that, know what they are, if all you know is what the line on the speed gauge tells you and which way the nose of your automobile is pointing. Yes! Now I remember, I know where I’m going, so what if I’ve forgotten my speed and estimated time of arrival?
            The panic’s diminished appreciably since the first time—when I was mortally afraid I’d either stall at a point I could clearly identify, unable to move in any direction; or find myself aimlessly proceeding along a meandering line, nowhere in essence and beyond that, headed nowhere. Empirical evidence is inductive, and only establishes a high probability of recurrence, but I’ve repeated this process so often I feel safe in the near certainty what’s happened before will happen again; I’ll arrive at my destination, even if uncertain precisely how, and come to a stop only then, not at an indeterminate point somewhere between here and there. If it doesn’t. . . ?
            Certainly it’s eerie seeing the odd vehicle, ahead or behind or even passing on one side, that appears to be equal parts there and not there—sometimes fog would seem to account for this, or a sudden dip and rise in the road, but quite often not. Sometimes one vanishes and in the same instant there it is some distance down the road—or vanishes completely, which may only mean it reappears out of sight. What do I look like—now you see me now you don’t?—to other drivers. I seriously wish this trip were over.
            It’s like one of those pictures with two distinct images, facing profiles and a vase for instance. Concentrate and you can see either one clearly, but never both at the same time. Somehow—to the best of my knowledge and recollection—I always arrive, but where? and from where? (Of course where I’m coming from is an ever-shifting variable in a vehicle moving at speed along the tarred surface of a roadway.) To know either of those things I have to forget completely how fast I’m going, trust sheer instinct to map my progress. When will I get there? I can calculate that almost exactly (there are always unpredictable variables in highway driving), but the clearer I am on that the fuzzier I am on my destination. And it sure would help if there were landscape markers significant enough to chart my moving position, or if I could pick them out without losing awareness of the speedometer’s quiver completely. I’m not even certain that this is a constant uncertainty—I have the sense that at some earlier point I knew both where I was going and how fast, and at some later point I will again. Is that possible or am I entertaining myself with wishful fairy tales?
Are other travelers faced with the same dilemma? it seems scarcely credible, perhaps I should ask around at the next gas station/diner I stop at for refueling. But if they tell me the truth, will I believe it? If I trust what they say, will it be true?

About the Author: 
Martin Heavisides has been, in alternate lives, a child, a writer, a student, a street vendor, a book scout, a bookstore employee, a walking courier, a security guard, a writer, a child. - See more at: http://shorts.quantumlah.org/entry/what-happened-exactly#sthash.67i3sF9e.dpuf

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Quantum Theories

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 ... Act of observation

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

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

R is for ... Randomness

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

G is for ... Gluon

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

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.

I is for ... Information

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

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.

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 ... Universe

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

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.

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”.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

K is for ... Kaon

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 ... 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 ... 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!

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.

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.