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.
A Q&A with Brian Wells, Quantum Shorts finalist
Read the story first: Quantum Luck
What is your background in science?
I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Physics (1984). After getting my degree, I worked as a computer hardware/software engineer.
Something unexpected happens to Captain Brinks in your story. How did the idea come about?
I read an article claiming that something the size of a clipboard is indeed likely (or at least as likely as not) to have tunnelled somewhere in the universe in 1020 years. That same article claimed that in 10100 years, the universe itself is likely to have tunnelled to a new state of existence. So I began to think about what it might take to make that happen sooner. If not time, then luck would be required, enhanced through technological means. When the notion struck me that “quantum luck” might be conserved, I had my story idea.
What can you tell us about how you wrote the story?
I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of what the consequences would be if quantum phenomena could be applied to objects in the macro (classical) world we’re all familiar with. So the question of what might happen if a ship could travel by quantum tunnelling was an inevitable path of exploration for a story.
What makes you interested in quantum physics?
I’ve wanted to be a scientist since I was a toddler. It is a genuine thrill to learn how the universe works by poking it to see what happens. The quantum world is perhaps the most surprising and fun to explore, not just in the real world, but also in fiction.
What is your favourite science-inspired book?
During my string theory phase (we all go through it, right?), I enjoyed reading Michio Kaku. Lately, however, I’ve come to enjoy the ‘big picture’ perspectives of Brian Greene’s The Fabric of the Cosmos and The Elegant Universe.
What does being a Quantum Shorts finalist mean to you?
Honestly, I couldn’t be more thrilled or honoured. After a lifetime of keeping these science-inspired story ideas in my head, it is more gratifying and humbling than I ever could have imagined to be a Quantum Shorts finalist, chosen not just by story editors, but also by distinguished scientists whose attention I never would have previously earned.
Are you working on other projects now?
I’m writing my third novel and will always write flash stories as inspiration strikes me. Every story I write pivots on the use of a scientific discovery or development, usually quantum in nature.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about you or your story?
I’ve tried to convince my wife that my keys end up locked in the car because they keep spontaneously quantum-tunnelling out of my pocket, but she’s not buying it.