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!
She had imagined explosions. Her mind had conjured images of what it might look like – a thousand shards of shattered starlight; Rainbows of seven billion colours; The eye of God glaring down directly at her; Utter darkness as the universe spontaneously ceased to be.
But instead all she got was a low beep, as the machine finished the simulation. With a sigh, she opened her eyes to check the readout. It was just the same as expected. There was no change at the destination.
The experiment was totally simple in premise and massively complicated in execution. Two groups of particles suspended magnetically field within separate vacuums. The mass of each group was being carefully measured. In an ideal world, when she pressed the button the mass of the first group, the source, would decrease. The mass at the destination would increase, thus proving a possible method for quantum teleportation of larger and larger objects.
“Why did I even bother?” She felt like throwing her arms up and screaming. The culmination of a decade of research and billions of dollars in investment, and the result it gave was the same as ever. Of course, no experiment worked perfectly the first time. Alter the variables, try again. That’s what scientists had done for five thousand years, right?
Taking a deep breath, she adjusted the parameters, then checked the readout on several other instruments to see if the environment was the same. It took a quarter of an hour before she could run it again. This time, she kept her eyes open and fixed on the readout. Decrease at the source, but no increase at the destination. Since there was no increase at the destination, there was no teleportation. The mass at the source was probably being lost as typical radiation.
Third time’s the charm, she told herself.
It was not.
Four is a special number, right? The first square number. She told herself. By the eighth try, she wasn’t bothering with the one-line pep talks anymore. This wasn’t the kind of experiment where she could plug in a thousand numbers and let the machine run them one by one. Every attempt required dozens of calculations. Her head was pounding. Stress and late nights and mental exertion all took their toll.
Things used to be so simple. Take a bath and you’re the greatest scientist of the age. Throw a rock, and there’s your thesis. Now it’s all trying to prove that things we can’t see can do things we can barely imagine.
Normally, there should’ve been an entire team to support her, but they were all down sick. Some virus or other they had all caught. That’s what leaving the lab and actually having a social life got you, she supposed. No way to postpone the experiment either, with the University breathing on their necks, so here she was, carrying out the most important experiment of her life all by herself.
Maybe I need a break. Just a small one. Refresh my mind, approach these calculations from a different angle.
She picked up a hot steaming mug of coffee – instant, of course, because who had the time to run down to a coffee shop? It nearly burned her tongue, but she needed the wakefulness that came with the heat.
Turning back to the console, she promptly dropped the mug.
The console had beeped. The reading had changed.
Her mind went into overdrive. How? She hadn’t activated it since the last run a few minutes ago. An error? There was no way the instruments could be showing an error. Everything had been calibrated to perfection. She’d seen to it herself! A delayed reaction? Possible, but unlikely. None of the theory supported it.
She checked the reading carefully. The mass at the destination had increased. Except… there was no corresponding decrease in mass at the source. There was no way that could happen. Had she just… created matter?
She was about to tear her hair out in frustration when there was another beep. The reading changed again. Another increase in mass. Her mind went haywire.
How? How? How?
She ran back to the desk, pulling out papers and feverishly checking each and everyone one of them. A time-delay. It has to be! I must have missed something! Everything checks out and nothing checks out!
Even as she went through the papers over and over again, the machine beeped four more times. Each increase in mass was equal. On the seventh beep, there was a much bigger increase. She switched tracks. If the theory did not support the results, then a new theory was needed. She just had to work backwards. She jotted down every change on a piece of paper. There would be a pattern.
Small. Small. Small. Small. Small. Small. Large. Small. Small. Small. Large.
I’ve seen this before! As a child, she and her mother would tap messages to each other through the walls of their adjoining rooms. She had seen it in a movie and gotten fixated on it. It was such a cliché thing to do – exchanging ‘good nights’ with morse code.
She kept jotting it down. At long last the beeps stopped. Once she was sure there would be no further changes, she looked down at the paper.
H e l l o.
A communication! From where?
No matter how much science one believes in, sometimes leaps of faith were necessary. She took one, there and then. It came from elsewhere, she decided. The particles at the source aren’t turning into radiation. They’re actually being teleported! They’re slipping away beyond.
Everyone claims teleportation isn’t possible in this universe.
But what about others?
She sat down, and began to write a message.