Unpredictability lies at the heart of quantum mechanics. It bothered Einstein, but it also bothers the Dalai Lama.
** QUANTUM SHORTS 2019/2020: HONOURABLE MENTION
A car parked across a bank’s street with two suspicious-looking men inside. Carl, the one in the driver’s seat, moved his head into the direction of the building and said to the other guy
“This is the place.”
Bob, in the passenger seat, begun to turn his head towards the building.
“Don’t look!” shouted Carl, “We don’t want to raise any suspicion.”
Bob immediately looked away, shouting “Sorry!”
“Did you bring the lozenges?” asked Carl.
“They’re in one of the bags in the back seat.” replied Bob, “Are you sure about the whole thing?”
“Of course I am.” answered Carl, “This is going to be like taking candy from a baby. Now we just wait for the bank to close.”
“Maybe you can explain me the plan again. I don’t think I fully get it…” requested Bob, cautiously.
“What’s so hard to understand?” asked Carl, exasperated, “Ugh… Fine, listen carefully: Remember the lozenges I just mentioned? They are not regular sweets, they are ‘quantumness’ tablets. You take one and within seconds you become a quantum object.”
“Wh-What does that mean?” asked Bob with the look on his face of a student trying to understand what is being said in class after missing the previous five.
“Means that after taking one we’ll be able to ‘quantum tunnel’ through the bank’s walls.” replied Carl.
“Like ghosts?” asked Bob, bemused.
“No, not like gh- Yes, like ghosts…” said Carl, rolling his eyes.
“But how are we going to grab the money if we become ghosts?” asked Bob, still confused.
“We are not going to become ghosts!” angrily replied Carl.
“But you just said…”
“Forget what I said! Just think of it like crossing through a finish line ribbon. We are going to rush towards the wall and instead of crashing we are going to suddenly appear on the other side.”
“Doesn’t matter. Just trust me on this, I have read a book about it.”
“So, then we take the money and ‘tunnel’ back outside?”
“Is not that simple.” said Carl, shaking his head. “The cash’s mass will make tunnelling harder; that’s why this hasn’t been attempted before. There’s another thing we need to do when we charge towards the bank’s wall.”
“What’s that?” asked Bob, already expecting an incomprehensible answer.
“Run to the car at the same time.” replied Carl with a smirk.
Bob has never been so confused in all his life. Noticing this, Carl resumed the explanation.
“It’s called a quantum superp-” Carl stopped briefly, “Look, the lozenges will also allow us to be in two places at the same time, okay? So, we can enter the bank and go back to the car simultaneously. We grab all the money that we can, then wait for the effect of the lozenges to run off. When that happens, we are going to appear back in the car with all the cash that we took.”
Bob didn’t say anything.
“It’s called ‘quantum teleportation’…” Carl continued, “just don’t worry about it. We then hide the notes in the trunk and take another lozenge. Rinse and repeat. Is it clear?”
Not a single sound came out from Bob, he just nodded with his head, eyes wide open. His brain was working at a thousand miles per hour, but if there was a screen a top of his head, it would have only displayed “Does not compute”.
Carl nudged Bob’s with the elbow to wake him up from his stupor.
“Look, they started to close up.” noted Carl, “Some of the employees are already leaving. We just need to wait for a little longer”.
“Should I go and pay for the parking?” asked Bob.
“No, we shouldn’t stay in front the building. Let’s go to the space in the parallel street. Also, parking there is free after six…”
The two men departed and drove in circles around the bank until they were sure it was after six. They parked the car on the street behind the bank and stepped out carrying several bags.
They entered the back alley leading to the bank, with Carl several steps ahead.
Carl placed his ear against one of the walls and knocked twice. “Here it is,” he said while still listening, “the vault should be behind this wall.”
He turned to Bob and said “Okay, let’s do it. Give me one of the lozenges.”
Bob searched inside one of the bags he was holding. He took out two similar packages, showed them to Carl.
“Which flavour do you want? ‘Schrödinger’s Spearmint’ or ‘Nonlocal Liquorice’?” asked Bob.
“It doesn’t matter… Spearmint.”
Bob threw the corresponding packet. Carl caught it with one hand, opened it and dropped a single lozenge into his palm. He closed his eyes and immediately put the tablet in his mouth.
“Not too bad…” said Carl, swirling the lozenge around with his tongue. “Now it’s your turn.”
Bob opened the other packet and took one of the lozenges. He was about to put it in his mouth when he suddenly stopped
“Did you know I used to work for an accounting firm?” said Bob, staring at the lozenge, “Things used to be so simple back then…”
“Stop whining and take the damn thing.”
Bob sighed and placed the lozenge in his mouth.
“These are quite nice; you should try one.” said Bob.
“Pass…” replied Carl, without hesitation.
They waited until the tablets came to full effect; 256 seconds, according to the back of the package. They stepped away from the wall and prepared themselves for running.
“Remember to run as fast as possible; we need all kinetic energy that we can get.” said Carl in a dead-serious tone.
“If you say so…” replied Bob in a dead-scared tone.
“At the count of three. Ready? One… Two… Three! Go!”.
Both men sprinted as fast as they could.
A couple of hours later, the paramedics arrived and took both men to the hospital. In their report, the paramedics wrote “Diagnosis: Severe concussion. Causes: Poor understanding of quantum physics.”