Your rating: None
No votes yet

Ace and Domino are walking in an urban streetscape. 
Ace turns to his friend and says, “I had a dream that we’re all part of a video game.” 
“Are we players?”
“Not players but characters. You know, like an avatar.”
“A character somebody made up?”
“I guess so.”
“That’s weird.”
“I know, but listen to this, I dreamed that the choices I made created new worlds. How bizarre is that?”
“What do you mean?”
“Every time I chose to do something, whether it’s to turn left or right, it created a different version of me doing the opposite.”
They round a corner and continue walking.
Domino says, “You mean, exactly as we’re doing now?”
“Could you see the other worlds?”
“So, If we’re avatars, who are the puppet masters?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t see them.”
“Do you think anyone is playing us now?”
“Boring game!”
They laugh.
They pass a couple going in the opposite direction, one of whom is wearing a t-shirt with a character from a video game emblazoned on the front. 
Domino says, “If you created an avatar, what would it be like?”
“You?” Domino laughs, “What would be your super power?”
“I’d have the power to make any power my own.”
“So, you’d be like a super, super man.”
“I guess. What would your avatar be like?” 
“I’d want to make myself look completely different. You know, beautiful.”
“You are beautiful.”
“Thanks, but I don’t think so.”
Ace says, “What about all the things that make you unique? That’s beautiful. I read somewhere that the chances of you being born exactly as you are, with your parents, in your part of the world are 400 trillion to one. Don’t you think that’s beautiful?”
“I guess so.”
Ace and Domino are about to cross the road when they see a car almost collide with a pedestrian. A woman standing next to them says, “That guy should have looked where he was going.”
Ace says, “He did. I saw him turn his head and look just before the car stopped.”
The woman replies, “He was distracted by his phone.”
Domino says, “I didn’t see him looking at his phone.” 
The woman crosses the street. Ace and Domino follow and enter a cafe. At the counter, they buy coffee and sit at a table to drink it. 
Ace says, “Do you think there is an empirical reality?”
“As in?”
“You know, objective reality. My reality is different from yours and yours Is different from that woman’s. Do you get me? We all saw the same near miss but we each saw something different. I mean, who’s right?”
“Mm, I suppose we’re all right, aren’t we? We each saw something the others didn’t.”
They sip their coffee in silence.
Ace  says, “There’s a video on the net about electrons but they’re not like we used to think of them. They’re waves of potential energy and it’s only when you look at them that they form electrons as we know it.”
“What? How do they know that?”
“I’m not sure.” 
“Sounds like gobbledegook to me.” Domino chuckles, “Once upon a time, things used to be so simple.”
“When was that?”
“Before we started thinking.” 
They laugh as they leave the cafe. 
Walking down the street, Domino continues,  “What you said before got me thinking.”
“What did I say?”
“Focus. I wonder if everything is all waves of potential that snap into shape when you focus.” 
“I don’t get you.“
"Maybe I’m saying it wrong, but I was thinking, what if what I’m looking at now, in front of me, is only really here, visible to me, because I’m focussing on it. But, if I close my eyes, how do I know anything’s there?” 
“Your other senses?”
“My skin feels but I’m only aware of feeling when something’s arousing me or making me uncomfortable, or I feel pressure. If you weren’t with me to see the things I see, would they exist?”
“Hey, I’ve got an even weirder idea… what if everything is as you say it is, then the things we see only exist because we focus on them. So, unless I turn around right now and look, it’s all nothingness, this big blank potential…"
“But what about blind people? They use other senses like touch and hearing. Or deaf people…"
Domino says, “I know a diver who swears that fish don’t make sounds. He reckons they don’t because he’s been diving hundreds of times and never heard a thing. I argued that we have our ears and vocal paraphernalia and they have their fishy body parts. You know, they hear things we can’t. Like dogs can hear and smell things we can’t. Doesn’t mean that whatever they can see, hear, or smell doesn’t exist.”
“I saw a documentary confirming my theory about fish. Turns out, the seas are full of fish communicating with each other in clicks and whirrs and bleeps.”
“Do you suppose there are colours out there that we can’t see because we have limited vision?”
“Yeah, we only know what to look for because we make instrumentation that suits us. What if there were entire planets and stars and solar systems that are nothing to us because we don’t have the capabilities to detect them?”
“But we have instruments that can see ultraviolet and infrared. X-ray and Gamma rays…”
“I don’t know if they can see them exactly, but we can detect them. We know they’re there.”
They stop walking and look up. 
Ace says, “See that?”
“The falling star? Wow!”
Domino continues, “I wonder what else is out there?”
Ace says, “Much more than we know.”
Domino sighs, “I do know one thing.”
“What’s that?”
“Being with you is like being in a dream.”

About the Author: 
Karen is a recent AFTRS graduate, author, budding filmmaker photographer and musician with a boundless curiosity and a passion for telling stories. She is currently editing a final draft of a screenplay and novel and creating music videos.
Share this fiction

Quantum Theories: A to Z

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.

K is for ...

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

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.

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 ...

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

A is for ...
Act of observation

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

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.

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 ...
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.

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”.

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.

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!

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!

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!

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.

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.

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.

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 ...
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.

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.

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.

I is for ...

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.

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.

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.

U is for ...

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

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.

K is for ...

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

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.

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.

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.

T is for ...

The arrow of time is “irreversible”—time goes forward. This doesn’t seem to follow the laws of physics which work the same going forward or backward in time. Some physicists argue that there is a more fundamental quantum source for the arrow of time.

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.

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.

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.

I is for ...

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

C is for ...

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

G is for ...

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

R is for ...

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

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.

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.

Copyright © 2020 Centre for Quantum Technologies. All rights reserved.