Quantum Faith

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For the first time since his parents died in a plane crash three decades ago, Brian dropped to his knees in prayer.  The world-renowned quantum computer expert struggled to process what he had just unleashed. 
“Things used to be so simple,” he remembered his father would say, usually after shaking his head and closing the Sunday Times.  Brian understood that statement now more than ever. 
Seated next to his invention, the Babylon, a refrigerator sized quantum computer, Brian looked up at the black monolith in awe.  The qu-bits inside, or microchips on steroids, were cooled to a temperature approaching absolute zero, enhancing the conductivity and efficiency of Babylon’s processes.  The machine hummed eerily with an intelligence and otherworldly presence that blanketed the laboratory. 
Moments before, Brian had noticed a dark ripple form four feet above the ground in the center of the facility.  The floating black globule spread outward until it opened into a portal the size of a manhole cover.  What Brian saw within the portal rocked him to his core. 
“That’s im-im-impossible,” Brian stammered, the unbelievable site exacerbated his natural stutter.  
“Mom? Dad?” he said, barely audible. 
Sara and Alan Simpson, her hand overlapping Alan’s who was firmly gripping the armrest, appeared terrified at first.  Then the couple ignored the oxygen masks that dropped from the ceiling compartment, bowed their heads, and quietly recited the Lord’s Prayer. 
Brian heard screams and cries from within the airplane, but his parents continued to pray quietly and huddled closer together.  The scene appeared bleak, but Brian was not surprised by his parent’s serenity.  This fact angered him even more.
Certain details stood out to Brian as he watched the events unfold through the strange inter-dimensional TV screen. 
He noticed his mother’s favorite floral dress, the one she chose to wear on her many mission trips across the world. 
Alan wore his typical black business suit, accented, as always, by a colorful, strangely patterned tie. 
Before his parents left for this particular trip to Hong Kong in May of 2019, Brian remembered that Alan tried to impress him with a tie bearing an unmasked Bruce Wayne kneeling humbly before Jesus’ outstretched hand. 
“Focus on the one hero who matters, our Lord and Savior,” Alan said say in true pastor form. 
“Savior….yeah, right…” Alan scoffed. 
Alan’s sizable ministry in Silicon Valley usually flew under the radar of the mainstream press.  This  mission trip, however, received an unusual amount of attention because of the civil unrest plaguing Hong Kong.    
Prominent members of the Silicon Valley computer industry, celebrity journalists, and former Secretary of State, Dean Watson, flew with the Simpsons and leading clergy to oppose the bill.  They also wanted to pressure the Chinese government, and complicit US tech giants, to lift restrictions on the Church, press, and social media. 
With so many Silicon Valley types aboard, critics saw the high-profile trip as a thinly veiled attempt by the US to halt China’s march toward technological supremacy.  The plane crash raised suspicions of terrorism.  Brian’s entire world and faith shattered.
“Things used to be so simple,” Alan would say.  Each troubling revelation in the Sunday Times brought him to his knees in prayer.  The last article his father read warned of the advancement of quantum computing. 
A few days later, his parents perished in the crash. 
Brian discarded God and embraced science, hoping to open portals to more palatable alternate realities.  Quantum tunneling, the act of subatomic particles passing through an impenetrable barrier, became his obsession. 
After defending his dissertation, Brian made an impassioned plea to the Board, “I prayed with all my heart for God to undo what happened to my parents, but to no avail.  I now lean on quantum technology to bridge the gap between what the world is and what we want it to be.”
Suddenly, a knock on the door startled Brian and woke him from his dreamlike trance. 
“Professor Simpson!  You okay, professor?” said Tim, Brian’s graduate assistant, from behind the door. 
“Tim?” Brian responded. 
He looked back to where the portal had been floating in the air and suddenly snapped shut, sending Brian reeling back on his heels until he collapsed into a heap aside Babylon.  The past was brought back in living color, a mere light show fueled by the smartest computer on the planet.
Fighting the painful memories he had buried under years of unanswered prayers, course work, and quantum calculations, Brian fumed over being witness to his parents’ futile attempts to appeal to God their Savior. 
“Yes, Tim.  I’m okay.  I’m just a little drowsy from crunching data,” Brian answered.  “Can I help you?”
“It’s Wednesday, Professor….” Tim trailed off.  Brian hired the only graduate assistant he knew who studied quantum computing and attended the seminary at the same time.   Despite falling away from the faith, Brian felt comfortable in Tim’s presence.  Every Wednesday night Tim extended an invitation to Brian to attend Bible study, but in vain. 
“Thank you, Tim, but you know the answer to that one…” Brian managed to chuckle.
“Sir?” Tim responded, confused.  “Well, I understand if you’re not well, but I’m particularly excited about hearing Pastor Simpson preach tonight!”
Pastor Simpson? Brian thought to himself.  What in the world?      
“Oh, yeah.  Your office door was unlocked so I snagged your favorite tie.  I thought you’d want to wear it for this special occasion, if you are up to going, of course,” Tim said.
Brian opened the door so quickly that only quantum physics could explain his apparent bilocation.
“Ah, Professor.  Great to see you!  Here’s your tie.  Ready to head out?”  Tim asked.
At the foot of the penitent Bruce Wayne laid the famous Batman cowl, but in small print under that it read “Mark 11:24”
The quantum computer expert and pastor’s son knew the verse well.  He whispered it to himself from memory:
“There I say unto you, what things so ever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

About the Author: 
Jayson Blocksidge works in the restaurant industry in Sioux City, Iowa where he dotes on his two boys Atticus and Zurial. Writing has always been his first love.
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Quantum Theories: A to Z

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

I is for ...

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

C is for ...

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

A is for ...
Act of observation

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

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.

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.

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 ...
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.

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.

U is for ...

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

G is for ...

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

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!

K is for ...

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

K is for ...

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

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 ...
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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

R is for ...

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

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.

I is for ...

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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