Fated To See

Your rating: None
No votes yet

“Turn left at the clocktower.”

I turned around, expecting to see children jumping rope to a new tune that went something like

Turn at the clocktower, now

The queen is waiting for you to bow

Jump one, jump two

If you’re late, your head will roll anew.

Children are odd like that;  you never really know what they are saying. Things didn’t need to make sense as long as they were the norm. In reality, I didn’t see a group of chattering, bubbly kids. No, I didn’t see anyone, and that was a lot scarier. I kept walking.

“You know, that clock tower that goes BANG-BANG and has the roman numerals that no one can really read? Yeah, turn left once you get there.”

There! There was that incessant voice again. I deviated into a paint-peeling alley with tattered cobblestones and spoke back, “Why do I need to turn left? Frankly, this is quite an imposition seeing as I wanted to turn right to go home.” I realize that perhaps that wasn’t the best question to ask. Maybe something along the lines of ‘who are you?’ or ‘how are you talking to me?’ would have been more beneficial… but, give me a break. It was a stressful situation!

“You’re going to do me a favor.”

I frowned, “What kind of favor?”

“The kind of favor that involves you turning left at the clock tower.”

I considered the proposition for a second. It was quite odd, not to mention that I still hadn’t seen the person who the voice belonged to. 

It’s a lot to think about. Life, that is. 

If I were to flatter myself, I would claim to almost understand it -- flimsily, tenuously. But reality is never as it seems. 

Just yesterday your life could have been as perfect as could be, with no regard to whatever choices you happened to make. 

The truth is much darker than that. 

Sometimes, I like to imagine where I could be -- anywhere but here. Simply looking at the wispy clouds that trailed my thoughts. Sometimes, I get overwhelmed by the idea that any choice of mine could lead to drastically different results. What if things didn’t need to be the way that they were?

I paced in the alley, thinking about what this could mean…but then again, is it truly so selfish to do something just for me, every once in a while? Maybe this could be my “big” adventure. 

It is said that no matter how far away some particles are, they will forever be entangled and affect each other no matter the consequences.

These are mine. 

I moved out from behind the alley and decided the only course of action was to turn left at the clock tower. I moved stealthily, with my head down. 

“I’m here. What now?”

“Do you see that suspicious looking man dressed in white like a knight out of a movie?”

I scanned my surroundings for men dressed in white looking like they came out of a medieval book, but the truth was it was hard to see anyone that looked different in such a crowd. 

“Close your mouth. You look like fish. He’s coming to you, so just pretend to be good.”

What an offensive line, but honestly, I probably did look like a fish. A fish who was just told that a man was coming to me. It hardly seemed promising to be on the receiving end of whatever mysterious package I was supposed to be picking up. 

Worse things have happened, after all. 

Then, like a child stretching for the stars but instead catching only a white soccer ball with their face, a package soared through the air and smacked me in the face. But I mean, who needs a good face, anyway? A pretty face, at that point, is only necessary to get away with a few trivial matters, like dying later and getting better opportunities, that I have no concern with. 

In the end, I held the rough, crinkly white package in my hands and stared. 

“What is this?” I asked after the man who already seemed to be disappearing into the crowd before I had even gotten a good look at him. 

“Something that belongs to me, but I’m giving to you. I’m sure you’ll make good use of it eventually.”

The voice sounded much closer than it had before. 

Her hand landed on my shoulder as she said, “Time to get explaining. This is a very powerful device. Open it.”

Unwrapping the device was the easy part, but actually knowing what it was supposed to be was stump worthy. 

“Annnndddd. I’m impressed. If impressed is even the right word.”

She rolled her eyes, “That was unnecessary of you. You know that right?”

I laughed, “So what is this supposed to do? Though I guess a more pressing question is, how did you even talk to me when you weren’t near me?”

One corner of her mouth quirked up, and she snatched my bag like a bear that had just smelled the most delicious salmon in the river. I tried to take it back, but she was too fast to even see. She pulled open the bottom most pocket that already had its zipper open and pulled out a small rectangular device with a speaker, and a microphone. 

“This,” she said, “Is the best invention since bread. This portable rectangle can translate our words into numbers that are transported via entangled qubits and out again through the speakers. Ingenious right? Entangled particles never lie. The other gift comes only with a warning: to open Pandora's box and see, you need only ask.”

Open Pandora’s box? I dream of parallel worlds, and in a way I already know I am in every world all at once. A culmination of my decisions and different worlds being the culmination of the decisions I didn’t take. 

“Fate is simply a choice turned on its head. You choose.”

Share this fiction

Quantum Theories: A to Z

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

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!

G is for ...

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

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 ...

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

S is for ...

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

A is for ...
Act of observation

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

I is for ...

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

R is for ...

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

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.

U is for ...

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

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!

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.

I is for ...

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

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.

C is for ...

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

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.

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.

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. 


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.

K is for ...

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

K is for ...

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

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.

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.

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.

Copyright © 2022 Centre for Quantum Technologies. All rights reserved.