The Pearl

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  Greek Mythology teaches us to love, to worship, to fight, to sacrifice and to create.  The record of this illusive history is preserved by the minds of the creators.  The sculptors, painters, potters, weavers and most of all the story tellers.  They all ensure that this most particular story of our past will live on in our psyche, not only as a quantum origin for the imagination but as a wave of inspiration for its manifestation in the material world.  It is this particle of truth like a grain of sand that found the oyster,  or the sun scorching our eyes even as we dare to peek.  It insists on meeting us, perhaps because of our beauty or maybe our strength.  So we continue to tint our view of the world until we can withstand even a fraction of it, distorted and discredited,  yet steadfast in its purpose to define the relative nature of the particle we call human. 

     My name is Pearl and I am a painter.  I've always been eager to know my place in the universe.  I've opened my eyes.  I've heard the stories.  I've felt the fabric of the past and I've tasted the earth of the storytellers.  I've soared over the pieces of the land and sea and sky, and then watched them rearrange into the puzzles of our minds.  They form the structures that lift us above our faith and the ships that carry us over our fears.  The music that tells of our unspeakable pain and the pictures that tell of the world that exists only because we are a part of it.  We were designed this way for a reason, so simple that it gets lost in the sauce of our minds like a broken meatball.

     A funny thing happens when a child is left to raise itself.  My mother died when I was 16, and my father is 40 years older than me.  My first boyfriend died when I was 18, and my brother was kept away from me until I was an adult.  I had no cousins, aunts, or uncles that cared to be close to me.  I had very few friends, no commitment to school, no dog, no disability.  I was all dressed up with no place to go.  At that point you begin to wake up and believe the stories.  You feel the truth behind the mythology. You identify with the heroes, villains, gods and slaves.  You become inspired by the beauty of the events witnessed by the people who loved to be a part of them.  though far in the past and only a memory but so real that it can only exist as a grain of sand in your mind, you build a precious world around it.  Shiny and bright, you layer it with all the material of your dreams and inhabit it with all the creatures of your spirit.  It is this inspiration that makes you strong enough to be the center of your own universe and the smallest physical unit of interaction in another universe at the same time.

     In the very moment when the two worlds in which you exist collide, you wake up.  You realize your only one particle in an unfathomable mass.  This mass is designed  to be seen as a big picture by an entity so large that it will never make you smile by saying your beautiful or tell you that you did an excellent job at being strong.  It only sees the change you make to your environment by existing in it, and the color you create by mixing with it.  

     The incredible red hues of the sunset would not exist were it not for each single particle in the atmosphere refusing the passage of light.  Each one of these particles meets the sun, and as they do they paint a picture together.  I could not make these particles smile when I said they were beautiful or tell them they did an excellent job at being strong.  What I did do was witness the event.  I witnessed the big picture as an entity so large that I could only see the change they made to their environment by existing in it, and the color they created by mixing with it.  Their strength is their beauty and so is mine.

     I started my journey around the world in search of reality, knowledge, power and truth.  I climbed mountains and watched lava flow, driven along the circuits of the world, flown over the graphed out farms, helplessly winding rivers, all part of the organization of the pearl.  The grain of truth carefully tended by an entity so large that it could only see the pattern of our environment and the colors we reflect.  We exist to maintain her.  We live to help her understand her place in the universe the same way Greek mythology exists to help us learn our place on earth.  I've laughed, cried, learned, taught, loved, worshipped, fought, sacrificed, and ruled the world.  But only upon painting a picture of a dream I had the night before did I realize that I was the smallest physical unit of interaction between my dream and the reality I am a part of.  So I continue to paint the beautiful red hues of the sunset and I witness the events of the world.  I listen to the stories and tell my own.  I get all dressed up with nowhere to go, but I always meet the sun.  That picture I paint is one strong particle in the next wave of inspiration crashing against the psyche of the particle we call earth as she witnesses the events of the universe.  I am a creator.

   By  Christine Sceppe

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Quantum Theories

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

A is for ... Act of observation

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

R is for ... Randomness

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

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.

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.

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!

I is for ... Information

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

G is for ... Gluon

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

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.

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!

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 ... 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.

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.

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.

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.

U is for ... Universe

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

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 ... 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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 ... 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.