New Fiction

Read the latest Quantum Shorts flash fiction submissions here as they arrive. There will be a small space-time discontiuum as humans review the stories, so please be patient if you are waiting for your submission to appear. We also recommend dipping into our fiction archives, presenting the shortlists of four previous competitions.

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by Avena Lanka
December 15, 2021
Jack has gone missing at a physics symposium
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by Melanie Swan, PhD
December 15, 2021
Investigating a crime scene, DahliaDappDetective is on the case
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by Craig T Blake
December 15, 2021
A quantum solution to a medical problem
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by William Peterson
December 15, 2021
A mysterious signal was detected in the ripples of spacetime
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by Ryan McIntyre
December 15, 2021
The day a pair of twins were born, reality fractured
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by Eric Perez
December 15, 2021
An old man lost in the what-ifs of his past
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by Adriana Mucea
December 15, 2021
There is a situation in Universe 35
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by William Preston, MD, FAAN
December 15, 2021
Jim was sitting in a quantum class
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by J. Matthew Martin
December 15, 2021
Dr. Grayson, as an expert in theoretical physics, is called to be an expert witness
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by Bel MacSwan
December 15, 2021
Instead of asking the questions they embrace what there is
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by Durga Iyer
December 15, 2021
Welcome to the multiverse
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by Bryce Easton
December 15, 2021
His long-awaited revenge on his bully
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by Trevor Gast
December 15, 2021
Tyler was on the road to becoming a quantum programmer
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by Bruna Shinohara de Mendonça
December 15, 2021
The chatter of the particles in a computer
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by Andres Eloy Martinez Rojas
December 15, 2021
The pattern of sounds went unnoticed by the rest of the research team, but not by Margaret

Pages

Quantum Theories: A to Z

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

I is for ...
Interferometer

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

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.

A is for ...
Act of observation

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 ...
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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

C is for ...
Clocks

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 ...
Gluon

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

S is for ...
Superposition

The feature of a quantum system whereby it exists in several separate quantum states at the same time.

S is for ...
Sensors

Researchers are harnessing the intricacies of quantum mechanics to develop powerful quantum sensors. These sensors could open up a wide range of applications.

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 ...
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.

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!

K is for ...
Kaon

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

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.

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.

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 ...
Time

The arrow of time is “irreversible”—time goes forward. On microscopic quantum scales, this seems less certain. A recent experiment shows that the forward pointing of the arrow of time remains a fundamental rule for quantum measurements.

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.

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. This column from Quanta Magazine ​delves into the fundamental physics behind quantum computing.

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.

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.

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.

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 ...
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.

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”.

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!

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.

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.

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.

Q is for ...
Quantum States

Quantum states, which represent the state of affairs of a quantum system, change by a different set of rules than classical states.

E is for ...
Ethics

As the world makes more advances in quantum science and technologies, it is time to think about how it will impact lives and how society should respond. This mini-documentary by the Quantum Daily is a good starting point to think about these ethical issues. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qc7gpabEhQ&t=2s 

M is for ...
Maths

Quantum physics is the study of nature at the very small. Mathematics is one language used to formalise or describe quantum phenomena.

I is for ...
Information

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

R is for ...
Randomness

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

U is for ...
Universe

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

K is for ...
Key

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

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.

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