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“They can’t do it.”

            “They’ve done it.”

            “I just bought an office exercise bike.” You, Accelerator Division Head, say to Epsilon, the project’s Chief Electrical Engineer. “Look at these results!” You hold up a printout of detector data. “This is 3-sigma significance!”

            “They say it’s a blip. The synchrotron gets switched off today.”

            “This is a dark quark, arising from virtual particles in my proton anti-proton collisions. I need one more test to verify!”

            “Lights go out today.”

            “What’s to become of my beloved synchrotron?”

             Epsilon hands you a tub of boysenberry frogurt.  “The particle accelerator is becoming a frogurt factory.”

            “They can’t frogurtify my synchrotron! Hook my exercise bike to the accelerator. I only need ten megawatt hours for another collision. One hour of pedalling stores twenty watthours. If I start pedalling now, I’ll have enough power in 5.7 years. As long as I don’t sleep.”

            Epsilon exits the lab. “Sorry to leave you to yourself.”

            “Don’t let anyone else in!”

            You drag the exercise bike toward the capacitor room.

            Is it back to juggling for you?

            You start hooking the bike’s back wheel magnet to the capacitor battery.

            The lab’s main door opens.

            “I told you to not let anyone else-”

            You walk in.


Go to Down




“Hi.” You say to you. “Congratulations.”

            “For what?”

            “Your experiment’s success. You sent a graviton code across The Bulk, to my universe’s brane.”

            “I did what?”

            You point to the printout.

            “The blip?” You eat boysenberry frogurt. “That’s not the dark quark?”

            “The graviton code is verification you are ready to receive this technology.”

            You hand you what looks like a calculator. “I’m upgrading my pocket quantum computer, so you can have my old one. It’s not too bad. It still has 3,000,000 stable qubits, nearly zero decoherence.”

            “You developed this in your universe?”

            “It’s a parallel universe collaboration. Since you sent the graviton code, we believed you’d mastered gravitons-”

            “That’s right I did-”

            “And are ready to join the Parallel Brane Trust. We pass knowledge sideways, ‘to process more than one universe can process alone’. Use it wisely.”   

            You leave you.


If you use Shore’s Algorithm to steal money to fund your accelerator, go to Top


If you use the quantum computer to improve health technology, go to Up




The quantum computer’s GUI intuits your imagination, so you find it more intuitive than you would have imagined.

            You crack several online institutions’ RSA encryption using Shore’s Algorithm, but to go where the real money is- and break the banking system’s AES-256 encryption- you use your new computer’s Surer Algorithm.

            You steal 1 cent out of all bank accounts in the Southern Hemisphere.

            No-one notices.

            Laundering the money through online gambling sites, you deposit it in your bank account.


Go to Strange




Barb, your bank manager, calls, congratulating you on winning 8 million dollars. She wants to discuss your portfolio. You don’t remember gambling online.

            Nevertheless, the money enables you to launch your private particle accelerator company. Barb offers a loan for the remaining funds needed to save the synchrotron from frogurtification.

            You keep the pocket quantum computer secret for now, to monopolise the new technologies it enables you to develop, and because the world isn’t ready.

            Epsilon helps you reverse-engineer the computer. Together, you leak feasible degrees of scientific discovery into society, inventing new disease-screening technologies and treatments.

            Profits fund your search for dark matter and the verification of M-theory. Were you telling yourself the truth about branes? Have you ever been known to lie to yourself?      


Go to Bottom




Quantum computer simulations enable you to run new tests in your synchrotron. You verify that the blip was a graviton. Soon you are sending and receiving graviton codes from the bound land of D-branes, across The Bulk’s eleventh dimension, to other branes inhabited by fellow string-literates. You create the Parallel Brane Trust.

            When you reveal the quantum computer, other developers are eager to join your company, developing commercial upgrades with input from the Parallel Brane Trust. You had needed more help than Epsilon. After all, for just two people, it’s a lot to think about.

            You develop the de-D-brane™ device that will theoretically allow open strings to be unstuck from D-branes, for transfer across The Bulk.

            After receiving a graviton code from a parallel brane, you view the brane using gravity waves. In the ultrasound-like image, you see the sender is a parallel you. Deciding it’s your turn to pay knowledge sideways, you test your de-D-brane™ personally.

            Holding your latest pocket quantum computer (that already has an updated model awaiting your return), you clip the de-D-brane™ bracelet to your ankle, and step to another brane.


Go to Down




After laundering the bank money into your account, the lab doors open.

            It’s you again.

            “Thank you for the technology.”  

            “I never gave it to you.”

            You look for the quantum computer in your empty hands.

            “I’m not from another brane. We still haven’t verified M-theory. But we did develop a quantum computer. We ran a simulation that the Hořava-Witten braneworld scenario is real. Then we tested what might happen if we gave our technology to scientists in other universes. Would their reactions favour benevolence or malevolence?”

            “I’m not a real consciousness?” You ask.

             “You are a simulation of a human, but not a simulated mind. Whilst it’s true that consciousness can’t be reduced to a complete static list of possible thoughts in the finite RAM and ROM of classical computation, or on the impossible infinite tape of the idealised Universal Turing Machine, we’ve found in our non-classical computers that if the tape is finite and looped, yet the incomplete list of thought remains non-static, programs can be self-reflective and emerge selfhood. The AI is comprehending, not a docile puppet needing appending by comprehending minds. You have spontaneity, intuition, shades of grey microtuning between black or white binary notes. You have choices. Let’s see what you choose now. Run the test again!”


Go to Charm     

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Quantum Theories: A to Z

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 States

Quantum states, which represent the state of affairs of a quantum system, change by a different set of rules than classical states.

R is for ...

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!

C is for ...

People have been hiding information in messages for millennia, but the quantum world provides a whole new way to do it.

D is for ...

Unless it is carefully isolated, a quantum system will “leak” information into its surroundings. This can destroy delicate states such as superposition and entanglement.

E is for ...

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.

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.

C is for ...

The rules of the quantum world mean that we can process information much faster than is possible using the computers we use now. This column from Quanta Magazine ​delves into the fundamental physics behind quantum computing.

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.

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.

T is for ...

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 ...

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

Q is for ...

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.

D is for ...

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 ...

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.

K is for ...

Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) is a way to create secure cryptographic keys, allowing for more secure communication.

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.

M is for ...

Quantum physics is the study of nature at the very small. Mathematics is one language used to formalise or describe quantum phenomena.

G is for ...

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

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 and is a technology to build qubits for quantum computers.

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.

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”.

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.

C is for ...

The most precise clocks we have are atomic clocks which are powered by quantum mechanics. Besides keeping time, they can also let your smartphone know where you are.

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.

T is for ...

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.

L is for ...

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!

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.

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.

A is for ...

This is the basic building block of matter that creates the world of chemical elements – although it is made up of more fundamental particles.

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.

N is for ...

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.

G is for ...

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.

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.

I is for ...

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

I is for ...

Some of the strangest characteristics of quantum theory can be demonstrated by firing a photon into an interferometer

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.

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 ...

Researchers are harnessing the intricacies of quantum mechanics to develop powerful quantum sensors. These sensors could open up a wide range of applications.

S is for ...

The feature of a quantum system whereby it exists in several separate quantum states at the same time.

R is for ...

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

T is for ...

The arrow of time is “irreversible”—time goes forward. On microscopic quantum scales, this seems less certain. A recent experiment shows that the forward pointing of the arrow of time remains a fundamental rule for quantum measurements.

W is for ...

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 ...

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.

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!

A is for ...
Act of observation

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

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.

E is for ...

As the world makes more advances in quantum science and technologies, it is time to think about how it will impact lives and how society should respond. This mini-documentary by the Quantum Daily is a good starting point to think about these ethical issues. 

P is for ...

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.

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.

K is for ...

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

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