When Physics Became Chemistry

Your rating: None
0
No votes yet
QUANTUM SHORTS 2015: SHORTLISTED, YOUTH CATEGORY
 
When he first laid eyes on her he knew they had an undeniable attraction. If only he knew the destruction that they would cause together...
 
It was an average day for him. Nothing particularly special, although he did think he saw a strange quark but when he blinked his eyes it turned into an up quark. Weird. But the electron continued, finding his place with the rest of the leptons, trying his best to avoid the attraction of the hadrons (they were so needy, some of them just always wanted him but he was too high energy for them and flitted away).
 
Suddenly he found himself on the other side of the universe. Unexpected? Yes. Impossible? No, quantum tunneling caused this to happen to him a few times before, it didn't phase him, he simply sped up and struggled to find his way home.
 
That's when it happened, that's when he saw her. Something about her reminded her of himself, the magnitude of his instant attraction to her was incredible but yet he could tell they were so different. Where did she come from? How could this happen? Where did she go? He had to find out.
 
He accelerated to follow her; he needed to know more. But he was stopped by a cation in need. They were always needy, picking him up without even asking. "Please, Sodium Ion, you don't understand I just saw this girl..." he started when Sodium responded, "Alright fine, as soon as you find enough energy you're out." Electron didn't have time for this, he willed for the atom he was now bound to speed up, make up for the lost time. He needed to find his girl.
 
Three minutes had passed and he was still stuck to the desolate Sodium atom. He was losing hope, 180 entire seconds, she could have flown to Mars and back in this insane amount of time.
 
Just when he thought all was lost he received a message from the core of the sun. Gamma rays! The solar flare came as a blessing, turning the sodium atom into mush as they collapsed into a mess of leptons and hadrons; the hadrons engaging in some nasty activity with each other as well. And then he caught a glimpse of her again. His heart was broken when he saw her accompanied with another electron. Somebody else had gotten there first.
 
"How could I have let this happen? I knew I should have steered clear of hadron territory." He said to himself as he got caught up in a drift. Just what he needed, to be caught in between a potential difference.
 
He lost track of how far he had travelled, and honestly wanted to kill the cell for the potential difference, and wondered where it even came from. Just when he was liberated from the sodium atom he found himself bound within a copper wire. Day in day out whizzing around, providing light to the International Space Station. His sense of importance grew, "I'm the reason this place works, well me and all of my fellow comrades," he thought to himself, "maybe I have a chance with her, that other Electron never met me, that other electron hasn't done nearly as much as me, I have to get out!"
 
Fate was on his side. He felt his surroundings grow hotter, a sudden burst of energy caused him to sporadically move against the current, he could feel the shape of his surroundings bending, twisting and turning until he realized he could use this to escape. He zoomed out of the remains of the burning ISS, determined to find his love.
 
He traversed the universe to find her. Nothing would stop him from a glimpse of that charm, the spin in her step would complement his perfectly. He wanted nothing more than to have her in his arms, by his side forever. Neither time nor space was of any limit for him. He just wanted her.
 
Finally after god knows how long (literally, he enlisted a Higgs to keep track of how long it would take to find his one true love), he caught a glimpse of her. Curiously he saw a neutron emerge as well, and this time she was accompanied by a neutrino. Jealousy ran through him and he felt himself accelerate greatly to meet her, he reached levels of kinetic energy he never had before, anything to match hers, anything to be with her.
 
He caught up, she saw him, they stared. Into each other eyes like they had never seen anything else before. No other piece of matter was as beautiful as her, or anything else, nothing compared to her, her grace, her beauty. Her charge and her spin were so alluring, he felt a pull towards her, so alike and yet so different.
 
"Wh-who are you?" He stuttered, "I've never seen anybody as beautiful as you before, I'm just — wow, I'm at a loss for words"
 
"Hi." She said with a flip of her body, "I'm positron, I'm not from around here, its nice to be out and about in open space for once, and you are?"
 
He crept closer to her, so close he could feel her spin, he could feel her charge. "I'm electron" he said as he saw her race away.
 
"NO!"€ She screamed. "I can't be with you, I'm so sorry, I've never seen anybody like you but we can't be together, its too dangerous, don't touch me!"
 
Determined to have his love he chased after her and pulled her into a close embrace. With a white flash they ceased to exist.
 
Annihilated.
 
Ka-boom.
 
About the Author: 
Ritika is a senior in high school with a passion for physics and a plan to major in physics in the future. She has a propensity for analogies, chocolate, and tragic romances.
Share this fiction

Quantum Theories: A to Z

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.

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.

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!

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.

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 ...
Gluon

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

R is for ...
Radioactivity

The atoms of a radioactive substance break apart, emitting particles. It is impossible to predict when the next particle will be emitted as it happens at random. All we can do is give the probability that any particular atom will have decayed by a given time.

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.

R is for ...
Randomness

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

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 ...
Cryptography

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

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.

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.

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.

K is for ...
Key

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

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 ...
Act of observation

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

K is for ...
Kaon

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

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.

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.

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.

I is for ...
Information

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Copyright © 2018 Centre for Quantum Technologies. All rights reserved.