The Zombie Experiment

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I’ve heard the standard model is now complete.  If so, why must we worry about dark matter or what and where the energy pushing the universe apart comes from?  Shouldn’t all that be included, like batteries in a Christmas toy? 

I think we will know when no other questions are asked.  The universe is probably a puzzle created by aliens from another bubble to drive organics crazy.  I favor the latter view.  I think of dark matter as a pigment of our imagination and dark energy the brush with which the aliens have applied their magic.  It’s either that or the place where photons go when the lights are turned off.   

The odd part of it is most physicists agree.  The subatomic world is more magic than substance.  To some, it is an enigma that cannot be understood.  I think magic wands abound in the universe.  Why look for the pumpkin and glass slippers when the wand that brought them into existence can tell you everything?  Why aren’t we looking for that?

I wonder if the old saw about the universe not only being stranger than we imagine it to be, but stranger than we can imagine it to be, could be true?  If so, we are wasting huge volumes of energy to no purpose.  Perhaps that is the paradigm moving us outward?  The more we look, the faster it goes.  If so, we must stop wondering and give up the chase.  The aliens will surely notice and stop messing with our minds.  At that point, the world should return to being flat and science will focus on matters of gravity, like where our next box of Screaming Yellow Zonkers will come from?

I, for one, will be more comfortable knowing the sun orbits the earth rather than the other way around, and not caring if galaxies move slower at their cores than their outer bands.  It can only be a fig of the mind, which does not give one for what we think.  I like figs, especially with Champagne. 

These are my thoughts, bizarre as they might seem, as I stare at the wallpaper on the ceiling of the lab.  It is a depiction of deep space and the trillions of stars that compose it.  Fascinating stuff, put there by comedians.  Fascinating empty space that is not space at all, full of virtual particles popping into and out of existence, coming from nowhere, getting tired and going back to their home in the foam.  Higgs, schmigs … there is no God particle.  Einstein told us years ago.   God does not play dice with his creations.   

Nope, there are only wildly erratic electrical impulses in our brains, composing memories, unlocking them one moment, the next confusing us with something entirely different.  I tell you, this can be nothing but an ultra-large joke being played out on a cosmic scale.  We don’t even exist.  We can’t exist as we imagine existence to be, so what is the point of it all?  Our lives and the universe cannot be pre-determined.  What would be the point of that? 

Big Bang, Big Crunch … slow death, loneliness beyond measure in a small dissipating galaxy with no others in sight.  No trees to hear fall, no philosophers to wonder of it all.  No cartoons?  How boring would that be, and what kind of a monstrous mind would deprive us of them?

I think the only answer is, quantum physics and the wand that drives it are nothing more than the composition of the brain of one of these monsters within which we drift.  If we are lucky enough to be situated within the brain of a sane one, we will ask no questions.  If not, then we are probably doomed to think mindlessly unanswerable thoughts the rest of our days.  Would it not be better to succumb to the pressures, go forth with the lobotomy and paint a dark matter sign on our chests claiming an angel placed it there as a sign to spare me over for another day?

The next morning, after my time in the lab was up and I was free of the peyote experiment, I lurched back to the questions asking why we have defined any particular path as the one true reality.

What was it that so commanded my attention?  Was it the bright light of the Lord, the answer to all questions about life after death?  Are we genuinely connected to the universe in all its glory never to be alone as we inhabit the universe?  Incorporeal beings interacting with every virtual particle that ever popped?  Or, a psilocybin induced venture into mysticism, mind aflutter, stoicism dead?  Wouldn’t that be a bummer?  I’d actually have to listen to someone if it were true, maybe even talk in an even tone rather than simply nodding my head. 

Spooky action at a distance?  I wonder if Einstein ever did the peyote thing?  He was known to experiment with all sorts of odd things, like advanced mathematics.  Squiggles on black boards make no sense.  What was he thinking?  Suggesting it is actually relative?  Relative to what?  Insanity?  Get out of my way, I’ve got to go to go pray

Such a beautiful day.  The sun is golden warm on my face and new information is flowing through, my lobes absorbing it all.  The chart board has new felt figures of the babe in swaddling, the cutest little donkey and bearded men with curved rods in their hands.  I don’t care for the stern old lady staring at me from the corner, her mouth turned down with the stick in her hand slapping her thigh.  Oy, what am I doing here?  Did I actually join this organization?  When did they bring in the mirror?  Why is she wearing white and who is that mean looking man coming through the door?  He looks vaguely familiar, head without skin, bone or nose, brain showing through like wrinkled tofu.  ZOMBIE!   

About the Author: 
Gerald Lane Summers is a retired lawyer, former juvenile court referee, author of two historically based novels, and full of mindlessly inane stories.

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Quantum Theories

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.

R is for ... Randomness

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

U is for ... Universe

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

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 ... 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.

K is for ... Kaon

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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 ... 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 ... 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.

I is for ... Information

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

A is for ... Act of observation

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

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

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.