The Survival of Science City

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The prophecy had just been discovered that the world was going to end by means of a zombie apocalypse.  In order to survive the apocalypse, the great Science City called an emergency-planning meeting.  Chemists suggested creating an antidote for the zombie disease.  The Biologists suggested doing nothing and letting evolution and survival of the fittest take its course.  But the best idea came from the Physical scientists.  They offered to create a security system for each home, while also using quantum mechanics to ensure more safety.  Securing each home seemed more rational than attempting to blockade an entire city.  So the Physicists set to work.
            After two months of creating blueprints and different models, the team was ready to present their all-new security system to their city.  They had created a metal dome that would surround each home, condo, and apartment building.  This metal dome was made of indestructible metal, and provided an airtight environment that would keep out zombies and their infectious diseases.  This dome was so securely created that the only way to get in and out of the domes was through tunneling.  Therefore, they also created a machine to temporarily shrink human beings and give their bodies enough energy to tunnel through the wall.  Their calculations were extremely precise so that the wall’s mass and density were compatible with the velocity, length, amplitude, and frequency setting of the shrinkage/energy machine.  If any of these calculations were even one thousandth off, the residents of Science City would be unable to tunnel through the dome wall.
            About one month from the predicted end of the world, the domes and machines were ready for testing.  The Physicists then installed the shrinkage energy machine inside every home so they would be able to get out of their homes.  They then proceeded to place the domes around each home.  But during this installation of the domes, something went terribly wrong.  The ventilation system had malfunctioned, causing every single dome to slowly lose their oxygen supply when all the citizens were trapped inside.  The scientists ordered everyone to use their shrinkage energy machines to shrink and energize themselves allowing them to exit their houses before the oxygen supply ran out.  But they began to hear screams within the homes and no one came out from their domes…  The scientists were confused.  What had gone wrong?  They quickly reviewed their calculations and they found a huge error.  The head physicist, Sheldon, had miscalculated the size setting on the shrinkage machine…the machine was set to make the residents a size too big and without the sufficient energy level to tunnel through the wall.  The scientists began to panic!  Everyone was going to die before the zombie apocalypse even began and it was all their fault!
But one of Physicists knew of an elite group of scientists.  The legend was that the Super Scientists would show up in times of great crisis, but no one had ever really seen them.  Suddenly, a group of three women came flying down from the sky with capes and big boots. 
It was the Super Scientists!    
These Scientists were equipped to use all quantum mechanics quickly and easily.  They were in fact able to control all aspects of all of the sciences in the universe.  After quickly assessing the situation, they calculated in seconds the correct equations to input into the shrinkage-energy machines in order to allow the residents to safely tunnel through the walls.  Time was of the essence, every minute wasted was a minute’s worth of oxygen depleted within each dome!  The 3 Super women quickly condensed their body mass and used the exact measure of energy so that they were able to able to tunnel through the first dome.  Shortly after, a family of five tunneled through the walls and out of their dome along with the Super Scientists.  But on dome #5, the Super Scientists were not able to tunnel through.  They would try to go through but would bounce back after a couple tries.  The Super Scientists had forgotten to calculate the probability of tunneling!  They calculated that the probability of tunneling was higher if their energy level was at a certain ratio to the level of oxygen in the domes.  So before attempting to penetrate each wall, the Super Scientists used the gage outside of each dome to confirm that the oxygen was at the correct proportion to enter.  With the help of these Super Scientists and their knowledge of physics and probability, every citizen of Science City was safely evacuated from their homes. 


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Quantum Theories

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.

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.

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.

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 ... 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.

G is for ... Gluon

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

A is for ... Act of observation

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

U is for ... Universe

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

I is for ... Information

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

K is for ... Kaon

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

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”.

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!