Quantum Lock

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"You've abused your power. I cannot allow it to continue."

Azizi stared at the cold metal floor, her cheeks flushed with shame. She hadn't meant for it to get out of hand, but her power over the subatomic world had flared out of control. The energy had begun to leak out of her, and now anything within a three mile radius was forced to abide by the laws of quantum particles. In the past year, whole planets had been thrown into chaos because of Azizi's inability to control the yuon particles that flowed within her. Standing before her now was her old friend and companion, Gabriel. The Council had sent him to find Azizi and kill her, effectively neutralising the corrupt yuons inside of her. He had gone without question, easily tracing her and transporting her onto his dimensional relativity spaceship. However, he expected Azizi to be like a vengeful goddess, not broken and lost. It hurt him to see her in such a state. Her flaming red hair had lost its luster, her cobalt eyes had grown dim with exhaustion. The yuon energy inside her was clearly draining her life away.

"What are you going to do to me?" Azizi asked, her voice tired and submissive. The Council had sent Gabriel to kill her, but Azizi didn't care. She just wanted the suffering to be over.

"I'm not going to kill you. You've saved my life countless times and I must repay that debt."

Azizi looked at Gabriel in shock. She had never known him to disobey the Council's orders, but the look in his eyes told her that right now he couldn't care less what the Council thought. Azizi's vision was suddenly blurred with tears, her heart overcome with emotion.

"I deserve to die, Gabriel. I've caused so much pain to so many people. I'm known to billions of worlds as Anhrefn, chaos. I've lived too long. Two thousand years does things to a person. Each year broke me a little more. I have no control anymore. It would be better for everyone if you just killed me."

Gabriel stared at his childhood friend. They had grown up on Amser together, learned how to manipulate the building blocks of nature together, travelled the universe together. The woman before him now was only a shadow of what she had once been. Azizi used to trail peace and happiness in her wake. Everything she touched had seemed to perk up and smile a bit brighter. What happened to that girl? What turned Azizi into Anhrefn? Gabriel turned away, refusing to allow Azizi to see the tears roll down his cheeks. One of them had to be strong, and it was clearly not going to be Azizi. Taking a shaky breath, Gabriel turned back to his friend.

"Azizi, cariad fy mywyd, I refuse to end your life. But I must think of the well being of the universe. You're right, you have no control over your powers anymore. You are dangerous. But I won't kill you. Rather, I will lock you in a quantum state and draw the yuon particles out of you. You will be as glass if any living thing looks at you, flesh and blood when there is nothing to observe you."

"Do it." Azizi's expression was calloused, yet resigned. She looked much like a soldier fresh from war.

"You do know that once the yuon particles have left your body, the quantum lock will be permanent and I won't be able to lift it," Gabriel warned, "You will have to live off ambient time energy."

"I know, Gabriel. I trust you and I know you won't hurt me, even though I don't deserve your protection at all."

Gabriel stepped forward and cupped Azizi's cheek in his hand, wiping away her tears with his thumb. He searched her face, drinking in the sight of her for the last time. For so many years they had travelled the universe. Seeing the majesty of the Pegasus Nebula and the glorious empire of Kyucidria. It was all coming to a close now -- their legacy dying. Gabriel closed his eyes and captured Azizi's lips with his, drawing the corrupt yuon energy out of her body and taking it into himself. Their tears mixed with the energy's golden light, Azizi's lips tasting of honey and salt. Gabriel reached out to her with his mind, trying desperately to reassure her and show her that she wasn't chaos to him, that she was his perffeithrwydd, his perfection. The corrupt yuons coursed through Gabriel's body, and he knew that he would die if he didn't expel them soon. Reluctantly, he broke away, opening his eyes. Azizi stood before him, a soft smile gracing her glass features. Gabriel inhaled shakily and walked over to the doors of his spaceship. He paused for a moment, gazing out at the gorgeous cascade of gases and dust before breathing out the corrupt yuon particles into the vacuum of space. He closed the doors and sighed, running his hands through his golden brown hair. He glanced once more at Azizi, and then flipped a couple switches on his spaceship's console. Silver light surrounded Azizi's petrified figure then faded away, leaving an empty space where she had once stood.

"At least she's somewhere nice, eh old girl?" Gabriel said to his ship, stroking the console, "Ogofâu Grisial. The most beautiful planet in the Seren Étoile system. She'll be happy there."

Gabriel wiped the teardrops threatening to fall and plastered a grin on his face. "Right then! Next stop, the Sapphire Caverns of Cerrig Gwaed! I heard they're quite spectacular during the twin eclipse of their binary suns ."

He turned some dials and pulled a lever or two, sending the ship careening through time and space and he desperately tried to escape the pain. Perhaps Azizi was right. Maybe they had lived too long. Maybe it was time for the universe to forget the Amserans.

About the Author: 
Hi I'm Brittney! I love to write, draw and sing, and I'm probably the most enthusiastic geek you'll ever meet.

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Quantum Theories

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.

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.

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.

I is for ... Information

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

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!

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.

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.

U is for ... Universe

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

A is for ... Act of observation

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

K is for ... Kaon

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

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.

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.

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.

R is for ... Randomness

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

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.