QUANTUM SHORTS 2013: RUNNER UP, SINGAPORE YOUTH CATEGORY
It is the 3rd of July 1947.
Today was a sunny day, a cloudy day, yes, and a dreary wintry day. The birds are chirping, and it's raining outside. The snow falls and the sun dries the flora to a lovely golden crisp. The fluffy magnolia clouds fill the entire expanse of the sky, and azure colours the sky from horizon to horizon. A beautifully intricate marble fountain outside spurts water, surrounded by numerous condemned buildings. And here I am, ridden to this bed in the confines of this pitifully corporeal body.
Every day I hear and I see eternity. My body is frozen in awe of my knowledge of ‘forever’. But I only belong to this world. Nowhere can my body go to but remain forever chained to this world. I am stranded in this stygian void, helpless to do all but drool, for I am but a powerless man.
A powerless man who knows all, a man who is privy to all knowledge.
I know the future of every single being that has stepped foot in this reality, and countless others. I know the consequences of actions that have never been taken.
I can see.
Now, you might be wondering, how or why I am able to know everything. Well, as with all great scientists, it was the product of a mistake. A most ghastly mistake.
In the year 1933, a friend of mine, by the name of Erwin, earned a prize for an equation which he devised. It is more easily expressed in a thought experiment in which a feline is placed in a box together with a Geiger counter, a vial of poison, a mallet, and a radioactive substance. When the radioactive substance decays, the Geiger detects it and hence, causes the hammer to break the vial containing the poison, which subsequently kills the cat. Simple, no? Not quite so.
It was argued, in fact, that the atom exists in a state known as a superposition, both decayed and not decayed at the same time. It has two states at any given time. And until the box is opened, an observer is unsure as to whether the cat is alive or dead because the cat's fate is innately related to the atom’s state, decayed, or not. And so as the atom is decayed and not decayed, in equal parts, so is the cat, as Erwin put it, be "living and dead ... in equal parts" until it is observed.
The cat, logically speaking, would be able to exist in multiple realities at any given point, simultaneously. The real trick was becoming that little feline was it not? The ability to existentially control which reality your mind would occupy. And so, that was the singular purpose of my life. Scrimping on charity from my parents, working out of an abandoned building, shunning away the rest of the human world, living as a vagabond. All to transcend the boundaries that kept us from achieving our true potential. And it never once occurred to me that those boundaries were there for a reason.
Of course word of my plans spread like wildfire through the scientific community. However, instead of the whispers of recognition that I had expected, I was instead greeted by murmurs of suspicion and worry. Repeatedly I was approached by concerned peers about the ramifications of my work and various ethical issues. But what did it matter? I, of course, knew exactly what was really behind that façade of concern for humanity.
But their pleas for cessation fell on deaf ears. I had devoted my life to this and I would not so easily give it up for some mere scientists, who by all means, were underneath me. My refusal, expectedly, forced them to take other means to stop me. Sabotage. And so, it was a race to throw a wrench into the machine which would be the salvation of our race. Why were they so blinded by jealousy that they could not see that my success would be reaped by all of humanity!
The 18th of July 1941. The day which the fruits of my undying passion would be borne by the machine which would redefine the very word ‘impossible’.
And so, I stepped into the machine, and it closed around me. I pushed a button on a console inside, and the machine whirrs into life. I closed my eyes and prepared my mind to be experience what was beyond the horizon of understanding. To unravel the universes which held our world together. And I expected a brilliant white light to greet me.
But instead, the purr of the machine was abruptly interrupted by a loud hissing. I open my eyes to the interior of the machine and its metallic interior being ripped apart was the last of what I saw as a sane man.
I awoke several months later in a hospital. A mental hospital. But as I awoke, I was assaulted by the knowledge which I had sought. Knowledge of everything. It was all white noise to me. My consciousness was displaced, but not my body. I was stuck in a body, and flooded by the universe. It had failed.
I had failed.
My mind screamed for release from the pain. But even I could not hear the scream. I was blind and deaf to everything but everything. And even though I can now differentiate realities, I still am thoroughly confused and powerless against the wrath of nature itself. I had built this hell and it was here that I would spend the rest of my life.
And it is with great anticipation that I await death’s sweet release.