Quantum physics is the study of nature at the very small. Mathematics is one language used to formalise or describe quantum phenomena.
She stepped out of the car into the dusty furnace of the South Dakota summer. An older woman with long white braided hair approached. Her weathered face belied an impish and quick aura.
“Dr. Bergstrom. I’m Stitch,” the older woman said with a warm embrace. She smelled of the earth. Infinite. “Come.” She led Hannah to a small trailer. Inside an old fan spun noisily, happily incompetent in cooling the air.
“Can I get you something to drink? Coffee? Tea? Water?” Stitch asked.
“Coffee would be wonderful,” Hannah replied.
“How do you take it?”
“Do you have any alternative milk?”
“Ah, things used to be so simple. Coffee, milk, and sugar. That was it. Now everything is whipped, half this, half that, cashew foam,” Stitch said teasingly.
Hannah furrowed her brow,
“I’m just foolin’. I ache for a good cafe au lait with oat milk. Just limited here.”
“Sugar is fine then, thanks,” Hannah said, relaxing.
Hannah took a sip. A moment of silence passed.
“I’m sorry. Thank you for your hospitality but I was supposed to be meeting with Dr. Agatha Stitchenson?”
Stitch leaned back in her chair with a smile. Hannah raised an eyebrow.
“I’m Agatha Stitchenson, but no one calls me that.”
“Oh, I’m very sorry, it’s just…”
“Yes?” Stitch cocked her head.
“You said you were interested in my work and potential collaboration.”
“I don’t see how my work could be of use to you...out here.”
“How do you know,” Stitch stated matter of factly.
Hannah sighed. She was never good at small talk.
“Hannah, I’ve read your work on quantum tunnelling. Quantum mechanics makes my head hurt but I think an old lady like me who spends her time digging in the dirt and you and your brilliance could do something remarkable together. Give me this afternoon and then you make your decision.”
Hannah quietly huffed.
“Have you got anything else pressing?” Stitch asked with a knowing glint in her eye.
No. Since Hannah defended her doctoral thesis, there had been zero offers.
Before Hannah answered, Stitch stood up. “Wonderful. Follow me.” Hannah reluctantly followed her into the oppressive heat toward the dig site. Hannah noted the name “Iliontech” on some equipment.
“You brought the wooly mammoth back” Hannah said, eyes widening as she stared at the half buried skeleton of a giant Colombian mammoth. She remembered seeing it on the news last year.
Stitch, dismissively waved her hand, “Nothing but a big hairy elephant.”
One of the technicians snickered. She shot him a glance and he laughed harder.
“Bah, let’s go. Yes, we were able to get some mammoth DNA out of a specimen preserved in permafrost in Siberia. It was an amazing triumph of genetics and biology.” They left the site and climbed a small rise. Stitch stared off into the distance and continued softly. “But, I’m interested in something a little more...terrible,” she said with a sidelong glance at Hannah. “Come.” They got into a dusty truck and headed off.
“Let me posit something to you. Please don’t let my rudimentary understanding hinder the serious nature of what I’m interested in okay?” Stitch asked humbly.
“All right,” Hannah responded.
“So quantum mechanics says that everything we see and interact with exists in multiple states at once until it is observed?”
“More or less, yes.”
“And there are branches of quantum mechanics, like teleportation, tunneling, and even biology. Parallel universes too, right?”
“Yes, the Many Worlds Interpretation. If you believe in it.”
“Believe in it? Sounds like faith and not physics.”
Hannah, beginning to warm to her humor, laughed.
“If parallel universes do exist, can they be accessed?”
“Not that we know of.”
“But, in theory, quantum tunneling, teleportation, and entanglement say we could gather information from these parallel worlds?”
“We don’t have the technology of detection or interpretation.”
“I’m not talking about what we have, but what could be.”
“The Multiple Worlds Interpretation says that anything is possible.”
“Like, in another world, you could be a talking burrito and this car could be made of sentient snails but still run like a car?”
“Maybe not everything.”
Arriving, they exited the car and approached another site. Hannah stated in disbelief, ”You want to bring dinosaurs back?”
“I sure do.”
“But, don’t you believe in natural selection?” Hannah asked her.
“But nature selected them to go extinct.”
“Bah, an asteroid selected them to go extinct.”
“What can I do to help? Don’t you just need DNA?”
“Easier said than done. Even if we found it, it would be terribly fragmented.”
“Quantum computing isn’t my specialty but I would assume that some algorithm could help fill in those gaps.”
“We’re working on that too, but I’ve got another idea.”
Then, it struck Hannah. “You want to access a parallel universe for dinosaur DNA?”
Stitch winked and snapped her fingers. “Now you’ve got it.”
“You think accessing parallel universes is possible?”
“Isn’t it?” Stitch asked, goading her.
Hannah, frustrated in the circular argument said through gritted teeth, “In theory.”
“Of course in theory! That’s the whole idea right?” Stitch cackled and slapped Hannah on the shoulder.
“You’re talking about lifetimes of work and incredible financial support.”
“Let’s just say that I know a few good old boys of some means who have dreams of dinosaurs.”
“So we access a parallel universe where dinosaurs exist and obtain their DNA. Why not just move the whole dinosaur?”
Stitch clapped happily. “Now you’re talking crazy. Let’s just start with information on a molecular level but who knows...”
“Why a dinosaur?”
“Why not? My head hurts when I think about the expanding universe and the metaphysical properties of blah blah blah. But, a dinosaur. You can see it. You can touch it. Maybe.” She giggled. “Maybe not.”
“This is insane.”
“Have you got something else to do?”
Hannah rubbed her eyes and chastised herself for entertaining this idea. She sighed contently and stared into Stitch’s sparkling eyes.
“Let’s get to work.”