Special Exhibition

Your rating: None
0
No votes yet

** QUANTUM SHORTS 2019/2020: SHORTLISTED

 

 

Juliette Okoro

Jovian, 2078–2112

Dot (2094)

Egg Tempera, Canvas

The large brown circle framed here is a composite image: hundreds of depictions of Jupiter, each with a slightly different atmospheric pattern. From childhood, Titan-based artist Juliette Okoro experienced her environment in constant superposition—what she called “the unbearable pluripotency of photons.” Modern historians speculate she suffered from a sensory-dominant form of Selective Decoherence Insufficiency, an unrecognized condition in her time. While she died in obscurity in the early 2110s, today much of her repertoire has been repurposed in the symbology of the Quantum Resistance Movement, prominently a stylized version of this piece known as the “Okoro Spot.”

#

Quantum Resistance Oral History Project

Ahmed Eklund (b. 2125)

Chief Medical Officer; Celadon Mining Cluster, Kuiper Belt

Date of Interview: 11/1/2081

>> We’d been misdiagnosing SeDI for so long it’s impossible to pinpoint when the epidemic began. Accelerated dementia, brain tumors, spinal infections—they’re all common among deep-space miners. It’s the radiation. So when local workers came into MedBay with cognitive symptoms we just gave the usual treatments: handful of antibiotics, handful of neuroplastics—“the Celadon cocktail.” If people didn’t get better, we chalked it up to drug-resistance. That was the status quo for years. I… I’m not proud of it.

            In ’66 they brought in a Terran gunnery sergeant on leave. The man was raving: “I’m bleeding out on Neptune while I shave myself on Titan.” He had it all—multilocation, situational instability, overstimulation.  Got a billion-cred workup because the Central Planetary Authority said so, with nothing to show for it.

            But there was something, damn it, and he had this creepy way of knowing things he shouldn’t have about all these other places where he visualized himself. Turns out these were alternate posts where he could have been stationed. So then—this guy was a particle, right? A single person, one body. But he sensed himself existing like a wave; uncollapsed, present across all places where he had the probability of being.

            Soon enough we had a name for it: Selective Decoherence Insufficiency. SeDI.

            …God, whatever happened to the good old days when you could trace disease to a fault with the human body and not the nature of reality itself? Things used to be so simple…

            Anyway, I wrote up the case report and sent it to the Authority. In retrospect I should have just transmitted it into the sun, for all the good that did us.

#

“Beware the Tunneler!” Propaganda Poster

Ceres Station

Ca. 2167-2170

Ink, Paper, Spraypaint

The Central Planetary Authority responded to the emergence of SeDI in the Kuiper Belt with a swift campaign of containment and intersystem propaganda. At its best, CPA publications disseminated practical knowledge about SeDI and other quantum perceptual disorders. At its worst (as pictured here), they perpetuated misinformation and reinforced stigma. “The tunneler” is a hypothetical quantum-aberrant individual, caricatured as Belter, who could manifest physically at points along their probability waveform to bypass quarantine and other containment measures. This is widely refuted as a mischaracterization of both quantum mechanics and quantum psychopathology, but the idea found fertile ground in CPA propaganda due to anxieties over loss of political control in the Belt and longstanding xenophobic sentiments.

            The poster is extensively vandalized. The winged decal is a reference to the Bashful Starling, a Jovian relief ship destroyed while trying to transgress the Terran blockade of Celadon Cluster. Several Okoro’s Spots have been painted, presumably in an act of defiance—or to suggest that SeDI was not as limited to the mining clusters as once presumed.

#

Quantum Resistance Oral History Project

Sister Faustina Chen (21152182)

Marian Order of the Blessed Parabola; Celadon Mining Cluster, Kuiper Belt

Date of Interview: 24/3/2180

>> Why? Well that’s an existential question: why have the laws of physics changed all of a sudden? Pure entropy, maybe. Perhaps it’s part of a larger cycle built into the universe, one we’re too small to see the shape of. Certainly the orthodox sentiment is Deus vult—God wills it.

            I have a lot of problems with that last position (and this isn’t just the spiritual anguish of the recently-diagnosed, mind you.) Late-stage SeDI is terrible. Ungodly. People just sit there, so overstimulated and anxious they’re drenching their clothes with sweat and drool. And there’s nothing we can do but keep them comfortable—get a room with padded chairs and curtains. They like fluttering curtains.

            Though every now and then we get a case where someone’s still cognitively intact. Who can talk to you, through all the multilocation and whatnot. Who’ll relate conversations from halfway across the system, tell you the latest news from Mars, the full range of possibilities. It’s the closest thing I’ve ever seen to prophecy.

And all the prophecies are bleak. War, rioting, disease. Babylon burning in the night across a thousand realities.  

#

Schrodinger Independence Stele

Erected 17/9/2183

*** Since 2166 the citizens of Celadon Mining Cluster have faced the Unknown with fortitude and bravery, alone and abandoned by the Inner System. Now, on the eve of greater intersystem conflict, the Independent Celadon Polity averts its eyes—not out of bitterness but in hope, for Esse est percipi. So long as the stele is unopened and the transmitter within not accessed the state of the System, and our distant Homeland therein, may yet be well. ***

#

Sister Faustina Chen, Interview 24/3/80 — continued

When it comes time to seal this place from the inside like the Terrans have done from the outside, I’ll rest easy knowing I did my part. Turned the Abbey into a hydroponics farm, expanded the waterworks. Even made the chapter-house a museum—for history’s sake. However far-gone I’ll be, I just hope someone will be around to put me in front of some curtains.

            …I understand it, now that I have it, you know. It’s the little waveforms of fabric when they flutter. They overlap, coalesce. It’s calming. Beautiful. I can see it now…

 

About the Author: 
Griffin Ayaz Tyree lives in Boston with his partner and their collection of small but hearty houseplants. His work has previously appeared in Nature Futures and The Colored Lens.
Share this fiction

Quantum Theories: A to Z

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.

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.

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.

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 ...
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

G is for ...
Gluon

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

I is for ...
Interferometer

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

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.

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.

T is for ...
Time

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.

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.

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!

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.

K is for ...
Kaon

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

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.

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.

I is for ...
Information

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

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!

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.

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.

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!

U is for ...
Universe

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

R is for ...
Randomness

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

K is for ...
Key

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

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