Perpetually In Between

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The day was finally here.  Gary gazed out the window toward the launch site.  The floors below were filled with spectators watching with bated breaths.  But Gary was alone, with floor to ceiling windows offering a panoramic view of the landscape, and the glass roof offering the most spectacular view of all.  Here he would see his life’s work reach a pinnacle moment.  No distractions, except for the greatest distraction of all - his own mind.
His mind began to wander in the silence.  At first, he reflected on the last several years, gradually searching his memory in reverse, recalling the key moments that led to this epic juncture in history.  He was revelling in the story of his own journey to success and fame, until the inevitable happened; his mind wandered too far back and suddenly she was there before his mind’s eye.
Marissa.
Gary knew he would not be here now if wasn’t for Marissa.  Things used to be so simple.  He was nobody, a man without purpose or ambition, just a geek and a loser.  Now everyone in the world knew his name, but no-one knew hers.
He was nineteen when he met her, or more accurately, when he found her.  It was one of those rare times in his youth, that Gary felt a sudden urge to go for a walk.  Most nights he spent in front of his computer, playing games, trolling the internet and talking shit with the few “friends” in his life; all people he had never met in person.  But whilst the computer was busy downloading a dozen movies and an unnecessarily large quantity of porn, he decided to visit the shop and restock his red bull supply.
Taking a shortcut down an alley, Gary found her laying on the ground, asleep and blocking his way.  She was dressed in very little, and what little clothing he could see was golden.  Upon closer inspection he realised she was in fancy dress, seemingly as an Egyptian princess.  Uncertain of what he should do, he simply said “Hello?”
He tried this approach a few times, but she would not be woken so easily.  When even shaking her failed to rouse her, he made the first impulsive decision of his life.  He picked her up and carried her home. 
When Marissa awoke the following morning, she had only vague memories of the previous night; a party, feeling unwell, leaving and then feeling suddenly tired.  Later, she realised that someone had spiked her drink and Gary had saved her from god-knows-what happening.  But at that moment she was in a strange bed, in a strange place, with a stranger asleep at a computer desk, snoring softly.
Gary smiled to himself now, recalling that fated morning.  Marissa was unlike any other girl.  Most girls would just run away, but Marissa gently woke him with the most beautiful of smiles.  Plus, a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich! 
After waking and ascertaining that she was unharmed, Marissa determined from her fractured memory that the sleeping boy must have taken care of her, as he clearly hadn’t taken advantage of her.  Therefore, she decided that to thank him would require more than words alone.
They breakfasted together and connected immediately.  Gary was her unexpected hero, and Marissa was so full of life and laughter that he could not resist falling for her.  They spent the next six years, four months and nineteen days together, happy as two people trapped in a fairy-tale of their own creation.  Through her guidance, Gary learnt the social skills he had always lacked, and with her unwavering encouragement began to apply himself academically, showing an aptitude for physics.
The puzzles of the universe fascinated him.  Those few key barriers which prevented mankind from advancing.  Finding Dark Matter.  Understanding Gravity. Or his favourite - unravelling the mysteries of Superconductors.
Then one innocuous evening, Marissa gave him the key he had been missing for years;
“Maybe they can’t be solved alone?  Maybe they need to be solved together?”
The thought struck Gary like a lightning bolt.  Gravity and Superconductors were connected! 
Why were superconductors so efficient?  The assumption was that once cooled to absolute zero, the molecules were inert and thus offered no resistance.  But now Gary realised there was more involved than the lack of thermal energy exciting the particles.  This state allowed gravity more influence over the individual molecules, causing them to settle into uniform patterns and creating “conductive highways” throughout the material.
He began to experiment, spending long hours at work.  Marissa almost fading to an afterthought with his obsession.  But she understood and continued to support him regardless, for she loved him.
After just a year, he had proved his theory. 
The revelation made him famous; but he wasn’t finished.  This breakthrough led to greater discoveries, the most significant being the perpetual motion engine.  Using superconductive material to create engines which produced energy, whilst utilising some of this energy to maintain the superconductive state of the material.  It was revolutionary.  Finally, the world had the ability to create clean unlimited energy.
Now here he sat, about to witness the greatest achievement of this wonderous technology.  The perpetual engine space craft.  Capable of flying forever in theory.  But Marissa was not here now.  She who gave him purpose.  She who never failed to push him to his full potential.  She who died alone as he claimed his Nobel prize.
Whilst Gary grew in success, fuel by her love and belief, Marissa slowly faded away, taken by cancer.  Then suddenly she was gone, whilst he was applauded.  He should have been there with her and she deserved be here now - sharing this moment of achievement with him.
The probe was already disappearing into the sky when Gary broke his revelry.  The past had distracted him and stolen his moment.  The view was wasted, and the victory now felt hollow.  Humanity’s greatest moment.  But thinking of her, he wondered; was it worth it?
 

About the Author: 
A simple scientist from the UK, whose dream is to be a published author one day. I have been writing creatively for many years for my own pleasure and recently began to share my work with the world, entering contests and submitting stories for publication. Maybe this is the one!
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Quantum Theories: A to Z

T is for ...
Time

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.

W is for ...
Wavefunction

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.

C is for ...
Clocks

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.

D is for ...
Dice

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 ...
Gluon

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.

A is for ...
Act of observation

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

S is for ...
Sensors

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

A is for ...
Atom

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

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.

M is for ...
Maths

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

N is for ...
Nonlocality

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.

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.

Q is for ...
Qubit

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.

I is for ...
Interferometer

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.

G is for ...
Gravity

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.

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.

C is for ...
Computing

The rules of the quantum world mean that we can process information much faster than is possible using the computers we use now.

K is for ...
Key

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

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!

I is for ...
Information

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

T is for ...
Teleportation

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.

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.

X is for ...
X-ray

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.

R is for ...
Reality

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!

E is for ...
Entanglement

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.

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.

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”.

P is for ...
Probability

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.

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.

D is for ...
Decoherence

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

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.

T is for ...
Tunnelling

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 ...
Universe

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

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.

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.

C is for ...
Cryptography

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

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.

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 ...
Multiverse

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.

L is for ...
Light

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!

K is for ...
Kaon

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

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.

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.

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.

R is for ...
Randomness

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

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.

S is for ...
Superposition

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.

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