The Life-Sized Entanglement Hypothesis

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The hollow thudding of bodies being dragged down stairs echoed throughout the house.  Mr. Jameson cracked a smile.  The thrill of the kill had finally gone to his head.  This sensation was not a new one to him, by any means; in fact, he was surprised that he still felt anything at all by his thirteenth murder.  Regardless, his excitement grew for the impending show.
Mr. Jameson was not the most popular physics teacher.  Although he received his PhD in only four years, he was unable to attain his dream job as a world-renowned physicist.  Instead, he was forced to settle for teaching remedial physics at a high school for less-gifted students.  Mr. Jameson loathed students of his who did not understand his favorite subject: the quantum physics property of entanglement.  In this property, two entities (like electrons, for example) can become entangled.  This means that the fates of the two separate units are intertwined, regardless of their physical locations. Until one of them is pinpointed, they can both essentially be thought of as being everywhere in their orbit all the time.   The Pauli exclusion principle, however, states that no two electrons can be in the same state at the same time.  Thus, as soon as one of the electrons is located, the function of the other one immediately collapses.  The concept of entanglement became Mr. Jameson’s passion; he went so far as to vow that every one of his students would understand it by the end of his course.  Those who did not, Mr. Jameson believed, had to be eliminated.
Mr. Jameson dug up his trusted chainsaw from the backyard of the old, abandoned home.  His anticipation grew steadily as he methodically carved two holes – one in the kitchen, one in the guest room.  The teacher proceeded to go back to the basement and check on the bodies.  He took out the notebook he kept in his pocket, quickly scribbled a few words, and continued his experiment.  Mr. Jameson felt great pleasure that his plan, once again, was working out just as he had envisioned that it would.
Two students in Mr. Jameson’s class that year, Sam and Julie, made no effort to understand any quantum physics properties.  No matter how hard Mr. Jameson tried to force the ideas into these students’ heads, he simply could not do it.  The last straw came in the form of the entanglement quiz.  Sam and Julie not only failed, but they protested and disrespected the all-important exam. The washed-up physicist was at the end of his wits and filled with rage; he could not possibly teach these students.  They would never understand entanglement.  Mr. Jameson knew exactly what he had to do.
The final chapter began.  Mr. Jameson had buried the bodies in the two holes he made so that they were each underneath the floorboards, but in different rooms.  A knock sounded at the front door.  Mr. Jameson swiftly ripped out a page from his notebook, dropped it on the floor of the living room, and hid in his usual spot behind the one-way mirror to watch his vision unfold.  Two policemen entered the home.  They had been given an anonymous tip that morning that a murder had occurred at this address, and that the body was hidden somewhere in the house.  They began to look around when they happened upon a small note on the floor, written on the same type of paper as the anonymous tip.  It read, “Experiment No. 13, 11AM: Both alive until further measurement.”  From this, the policemen realized that not one, but two people were buried in the house – and these people were currently alive.  The police commenced their frantic search, repeatedly putting their heads to the ground to listen for the sound of a heartbeat.  Mr. Jameson grinned in his hiding place.  With growing excitement, he thought, “The electrons can both be thought of as everywhere, until…
Suddenly, one of the policemen called to his partner that he had located a living teenaged girl.  As heavily drugged as she was, the men were elated to have found her before it was too late.  They carefully picked her up out of the hole in the kitchen floorboards and cleaned her off.  The police had an air of relief and complacency about them as they began to search for the other person.
Mr. Jameson waited patiently for the policemen to realize that, in locating the body that was alive, they had caused the death of the unfortunate, unfound victim.  Unbeknownst to the police, Mr. Jameson had entangled the two lives of the high school students as he buried them; therefore, measuring the life of the found girl actually killed the unfound boy.  Mr. Jameson thought of the horror the cops would experience after they discovered what they had inadvertently done.  This, unfailingly, was his favorite part of the experiment. 
Under his breath, Mr. Jameson muttered, “Sam and Julie must understand, now.”  He took out his notepad and flipped to the page entitled, “The Life-Sized Entanglement Hypothesis”.  He scribbled his findings, pocketed the notepad, and calmly slipped out of the house.  

About the Author: 
I am a student at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy in La Canada, California.

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Quantum Theories

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.

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.

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.

A is for ... Act of observation

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

I is for ... Information

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

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!

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”.

U is for ... Universe

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

R is for ... Randomness

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 ... 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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 ... 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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

G is for ... Gluon

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