Schrödinger’s Date

Your rating: None
No votes yet

Tess Marrin was tipsy. Which was either a blessing or a hindrance, depending on how you view dates. 
Tess viewed it as a blessing. 
“I mean,” she told the bartender, “I don’t even know if I’m going to go through with it. You know?” 
The bartender - Kevin - did not know. Tess could already tell before he shook his head no. Unfortunately there were only three other people in the bar. Two were on a date and clearly unaware of anyone else in the bar, and the third was peacefully snoring into a corner booth near the back. So Kevin would have to do. 
A cold blast from someone coming in the front door barely registered with Tess. The heating was sub-par, to put it nicely. Her sweater stuck to the bar she was sitting at. This place looked like it was built in 1978 and hadn’t been updated since. Or cleaned, for that matter. 
“I mean, he’s going to take me here? No offense, Kevin.” 
“Who’s going to take you here?” 
It wasn’t Kevin asking, but a man. A new man. Seated one barstool away from her. He flashed her a quick, polite smile, and asked Kevin for a scotch, neat. 
“Who are you?”
“I’m the guy asking you a question.” 
Attractive but cagey. 
“For your information,” Tess said, “I am meeting someone.” She drained her Gin and Tonic and asked for another. 
“Possibly,” Kevin said. 
Tess toasted with her empty glass. “Exactly.” 
The man next to her turned in his seat to face her fully. He loosened his tie a little, revealing a hint of a throat that made Tess feel like she was a Victorian man waiting for his lady to show a little more ankle. 
Jesus. Maybe she should cool it on the gin. 
“So,” the man said, “are you meeting someone or not?” 
“Why’s that?”
Kevin set Tess’ drink down in front of her and she cheersed the man. 
“Well,” Tess said after a sip, “here’s the thing: dating sucks.” 
The man laughed, a low, throaty chuckle. “True.” 
“But sometimes it doesn’t.” 
“Also true.”
“Thus my dilemma. Do I go on a blind date with a man and have it be awful? Do I go on the best date of my life? Or do I just leave. Keep this date in a tiny box in my mind with all its potential, sealed up forever?” 
“Schrödinger’s date.” 
“Exactly! You get me.” 
They fell silent for a moment and, left to her own devices, Tess started thinking again. 
“Things used to be so simple.” Tess sighed. 
“What things?” 
The man huffed out a laugh. 
“Oh, you disagree?” 
“Dating is a different brand of awful now.” 
“I don’t know. There’s something to be said about meeting someone in person. Seeing someone you’re attracted to and saying, ‘I’m attracted to you.’ Now we have to go through personality screenings before we can even meet in person. It’s a whole other level to compatibility that just, you know, hinders the whole process.” 
“Oh, does your personality hinder your dating process?” 
The man set down his drink, stood up, and walked over to stand in front of Tess. 
“You’re saying,” he said, “you’d prefer if someone walked right up to you and said, ‘Hi. My name is Trevor. I think we should get to know each other.’” 
The man stuck his hand out for a handshake. 
“Maybe lose the handshake, you dweeb,” Tess said. But she shook his hand anyway, charmed despite herself. 
The man sat on the stool directly next to her this time. 
“Interesting name,” Tess said after a moment. 
“What’s that?”
“Trevor. That you would pick that name.” 
Tess snorted. “It’s just funny. That’s the name of my date. The guy I’m supposed to meet tonight.” 
Trevor gave Tess a tiny wave. 
“Sorry.” Trevor shrugged. “This cat’s alive.”
“Why didn’t you say anything?” 
“Honestly? I kind of wanted to see how this would all play out. Has anyone ever told you you make a unique impression?” 
Tess scrunched her nose. “Good or bad?”
“Good.” Trevor smiled at her. “Definitely good. And speaking of good things, I think we’re going to have a pretty good time tonight.” 
“Does it involve leaving this bar?”
“Oh, god yes. This place is a dive.” 
They both turned to Kevin to apologize. 
Kevin did not seem hurt. 
p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-indent: 18.0px; font: 13.0px Palatino} p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-indent: 18.0px; font: 13.0px Palatino; color: #000000; color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.87); -webkit-text-stroke: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.87)} p.p3 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-indent: 18.0px; font: 13.0px Palatino; -webkit-text-stroke: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.87)} span.s1 {color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke: 0px #000000} span.s2 {font-kerning: none} span.s3 {color: #000000}

About the Author: 
Alex is an editor by day, author by night. When she's not doing either of those things, she's running or watching horror movies.
Share this fiction

Quantum Theories: A to Z

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.

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 ...
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

C is for ...

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

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.

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.

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.

G is for ...

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

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!

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.

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.

U is for ...

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

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 ...

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.

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!

I is for ...

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

K is for ...

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

R is for ...

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

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.

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.

I is for ...

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

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.

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.

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”.

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.

A is for ...
Act of observation

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

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.

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.

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.

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!

K is for ...

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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