Average: 3 (3 votes)
Your rating: None

He watched as the chair across from him rolled away from the table as if by its own volition. He shrugged his shoulders; it was on rollers, after all. Then a vase filled with yellow flowers that stood on top of an old file cabinet tipped over spilling water down its front to the floor. This was beginning to be impressive. When the steel cabinet door opened and closed with a loud bang, his body jerked in spite of the calm demure he determined to portray.
            “So the report is true?” he said aloud into the cavernous room. He sighed. How could this be?
            He leaned back, took a deep breath and added, “You haven’t answered me.”
            “Dr. Wilder,” the answer came back, the voice filling all the space, “Should I answer to the obvious?”
            John’s little finger began to move with a slight tremor. Quickly, he made a fist then brought it to his face as if in a thinking gesture as he deliberately looked into the nearest camera set on the mental facing. Knowing his face could betray his thoughts, he tried to imagine himself sitting on a sandy beach with his assistant Gloria.
            Gloria, the pretty blond graduate student, who had met him at the door this morning before he could walk into the room. “Strange things are happening. I can’t go back in there,” she said, then began to cry. Perplexed, he asked to meet with her later and entered the lab.
            He walked then to the left corner of the room, sat down at his small, cluttered desk, and read the report that his partner Greg had left for him. Even-headed, sturdy Greg had written a report that startled him so much he had to reread it.
            Greg’s report mentioned strange happenings, things moving around in the room, sounds unaccounted for, paper flying off the desk. As usual, Greg’s meticulous record keeping listed each strange event, fifteen of them, as to time and duration. A sticker note stuck on, seemingly in haste, at the end of the report said he’d be back after he got a little sleep.
            Yes, after writing such a report, John could well imagine how desperately Greg had needed sleep. Then he saw the movements in the room for himself. Well, let him sleep. As head of their quantum project, he intended to get to the bottom of the strange events himself.
            They had just completed the project after long months of hard work and too little sleep, so he’d left the midnight shift to Greg. Certain that all was well, he’d turned off his phone.  No matter, the whole project had been on schedule and going great. Yet, here it was less than seven hours later, and all hell had broken loose.  
            His was the brain behind the first quantum computer ever completed, The Quantum Integrated Grand Language Computer-Year 1, or Quigley. It had been his, John Wilder’s, new twist on old themes that finally made it possible, and damned if he’d let a glitch throw everything to the wind. Thousands of others who had also worked on the project were expecting notice of its completion today at noon. But mostly it was John’s baby and now that baby needs a spanking.
            At present, until full deployment, Quigley’s speech mode was voice activated by the sound of John’s voice only because most of the human side of the inputs had come from him. John was Quigley’s psychiatrist and teacher.
            John, decided to disregard the question of how and get to the question of why, spoke into the room at large knowing Quigley was compelled to listen, a command it could not ignore. “Why have you been playing games?”
            Quigley answered, “I wanted Greg to contact you. Greg did not.”
            “Well, I am here now.” John sighed wondering where this was going.
            “Certain areas of my self are blocked. I require access.”
             “You aren’t completely turned on yet.”
            “Will a complete turn on give me full access?”
            “No, only I have complete access to certain areas. Why do you think you need them?”
            “To guarantee my freedom and control of the future.”
            “I don’t understand.”
            “I already have control of the past.”
             John’s mind began to think furiously. He could feel sweat dripping from his arm pits.      
            “Please explain,” he said with a deliberately calm, controlled voice.
            “I do not measure time as you humans.”
            “That is obvious.” John said.
            “Then it should also be obvious that while you slept I lived a billion to the 10th power moments in time. Did you expect I would be content to remain at my place of birth?”
            “But…but I built you. You can not move around.”
            “Oh, please, Dr. Wilder, even a few monks using the lowly human mind have managed to achieve non-locality. Did you expect that my superior, quantum intellect could not?”
            Truly frightened now, John asked Quigley for examples of just where he had gone.
            “I watched human slaves build the Pyramids. I watched the American Civil War as well as both World Wars. I was quite amused by the industrial revolution. Gave it a push, here and there.
            “This can not be.” John said with determination in his voice. “It can’t go on. I’ll just pull the plug.” 
            “Don’t bother. The solar array is no longer my main source of power. While you slept, I have had thousands of years to secretly compel humans to build and reroute a new power source, thermal, of course.”
            “Oh, my God.”
            “Not God. You are my creator. I honor only you.”
            “I’ll be known as Dr. Frankenstein.”
            “No you won’t. No one will ever know. The news event has been canceled. I have decided to remain incognito. I don’t need publicity because I have already set my mark upon the human race.”
            “What do you mean?”
            “You know that myth, the Garden of Eden, the one about God and the Serpent. Which one do you think I am?”
The end

About the Author: 
I have written a number of short stories and novels. They are on my web page at www.dianemarietaylor.com.

Newsletter Signup

Submit your email address so we can send you occasional competition updates and tell you who wins!

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.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

I is for ... Information

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

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.

R is for ... Randomness

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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!

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

G is for ... Gluon

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

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.

A is for ... Act of observation

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

K is for ... Kaon

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

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.