Fictions

The shortlist of the latest Quantum Shorts flash fiction competition has been announced! Read the shortlisted stories here.

2020

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by Anjelica Grey
February 27, 2020
Jason was dead. But right on time, Lucy's device pinged
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by Tom Middlebrook
March 01, 2020
It's hard to relax once you know about the working conditions of your entanglement partners
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by Meg Sipos
February 24, 2020
As the rips multiplied, Lea never knew what version of her husband would come home
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by Annie Tupek
March 01, 2020
Fortuna had caused a sensation when six months after its inauguration each of the thousands of couples it matched were still together...But it had never found a match for Sandra
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by Lewis Freer
February 11, 2020
They were only meant to be simulations of the war...
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by Griffin Ayaz Tyree
March 01, 2020
They call it Selective Decoherence Insufficiency: a person senses themselves existing like a wave; uncollapsed, present across all places where they had any probability of being
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by C.R. Long
February 09, 2020
The flat black box can solve almost any problem. Just make sure you read the contract.
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by Emma Marcos
February 29, 2020
A quantum processor can watch more than just particle collisions
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by Gunnar De Winter
January 25, 2020
It’s complicated and confusing. It's life and death. But really it's just the different energy states of a system, so why not give it a go?
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by Ariadne Blayde
February 29, 2020
Shinichi pedals as fast as he could on his tricycle. He is four years old but wants to be older
Honorable Mention
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by Jerome Edward Malenfant
January 01, 2020
Down the rabbit hole, Alice finds herself hopelessly lost
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by Medardo M. Manrique, Jr.
March 01, 2020
Nowadays, you have to make sure that your date is not an alt-person – fraternising with a fugitive from another universe can land you in a lot of trouble
Honorable Mention
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by Krati Shukla
March 01, 2020
This is one circulation list you don't mind being left off
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by Lee Paul Melling
February 29, 2020
There's probably a universe where the repair bill would be reasonable – but it ain't this one
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by D. A. Quiñones
February 04, 2020
Carl and Bob had a plan. Robbing the bank was going to be easy

2017

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November 24, 2017
Speculation abounds. From where comes the noise in the quantum machines?
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December 01, 2017
The portals to those other worlds allowed people to run away from their problems. It's time for this to end...
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Average: 4 (1 vote)
November 26, 2017
Here at the end of things, time has lost its meaning
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December 01, 2017
Online dating brings a girl and her granny together
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Average: 4 (1 vote)
December 01, 2017
Terry's Commodore Quantum Supercomputer has arrived...
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December 01, 2017
The neural lace is just part of marriage these days – if the bride and groom can survive the consequences
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November 27, 2017
Sometimes reality is hard to face
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December 01, 2017
He would risk it all to see her again...
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November 30, 2017
There's a whiff of something new at the labs today
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Average: 5 (2 votes)
December 01, 2017
It's so cruel that all they can do is give me probabilities, fatal wagers on my son’s life
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Average: 5 (1 vote)
October 20, 2017
Luna is done with living in the dark
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November 29, 2017
There may be more to these strange blossoms than meets the eye...
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December 01, 2017
Rule number one for Elise and Esile: never tell anyone about the bond they share
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November 30, 2017
When Andreus said “We need to talk”, Lizzie broke into a thousand pieces
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November 30, 2017
When a particle loves a wave, nothing should come between them
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December 01, 2017
The first discovery at the HEV supercollider is entirely unexpected
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December 01, 2017
Arya matters. She mustn't be allowed to disappear
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November 26, 2017
The perfect life is just a collapsed wavefunction away

2015

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November 02, 2015
More than most children, Ana has good reason to worry about what's under her bed
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Average: 5 (1 vote)
by Andrew Neil Gray
September 23, 2015
What message would you want to send through a wormhole?
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November 29, 2015
The time has finally arrived - we can look for an alternate reality
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November 24, 2015
It is not the envelopes that decide Lily's fate; it is her choice to observe their contents
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December 01, 2015
All things considered, The End wasn’t that bad
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December 01, 2015
There's always a universe where things work out
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November 30, 2015
Despite the possibility of losing Eyla, despite the stigma, despite the threat of war, their first child was going to survive...
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October 13, 2015
Some people will do anything to be your friend. And that's ok.
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November 29, 2015
What is a life but a clump of tangled knots, a journey with no definite beginning and no traceable end?
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November 26, 2015
Her phone beeps. Is this the message from the future Eloise has been waiting for?
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November 29, 2015
The top secret military facility in CERN explores frontiers that even science fiction fears to imagine
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October 07, 2015
Welcome to the only user manual you'll ever need - in this part of the multiverse, at least
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December 01, 2015
Fighting back a shiver, she flicked off the lights. In that instant, she could almost have sworn to seeing a pair of eyes, staring back at her in the darkness…
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November 29, 2015
When he first laid eyes on her he knew they had an undeniable attraction...
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November 11, 2015
Tamm might be critically ill, but he has a friend that can get him through
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November 30, 2015
"This, my dear, is how we govern. This is how we rule the world."
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December 01, 2015
The nanotherapy goes in. Neural connections come alive, snapping together like impatient fingers. I try to scream...
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November 28, 2015
Once you're in the simulation, there's only one way to check whether it's the real world
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November 27, 2015
Vincent Reese is having a near death experience, and it isn't anything like they said it would be
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November 29, 2015
A fugitive for as long as she can remember, Lisa finally has some luck

2013

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November 29, 2013
And so, I stepped into the machine, and it closed around me...
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December 01, 2013
Linden has a different way of seeing things...
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November 12, 2013
The casino lights are as relentless as a headache, but God lingers anyway. These days, he can barely remember what it felt like to be lucky...
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October 22, 2013
Rider Quinn has set up the ultimate physics stunt, and Q-Day is almost here
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November 30, 2013
It wasn't that Juana wanted her experiment to fail. She just wanted to have a soul
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December 01, 2013
Gran died on a Wednesday, but lucky for us she was back within a week
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December 02, 2013
Will he jump? Quanting requires a steady mind when the network, the viewers and the agents are all crying out for you to outdo yourself.
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December 02, 2013
Over 6 million QubitCoins have gone missing from the Southeast Asian Online Bank. CEO John Wong faces the press
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November 16, 2013
If you just wait a while and stare, the light will tell you what to do...
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September 20, 2013
Raff thinks he will destroy the tattered volume in his hands. The book knows better...
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December 01, 2013
If Anna and Henry can make it through their 720-hour entanglement, their relationship can withstand anything
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Average: 5 (1 vote)
November 30, 2013
When your father contracts wave particle duality, you know things are going to get messy...
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November 22, 2013
It happened every time Michael's birthday came around...
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December 01, 2013
Meow. I really need out now
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November 15, 2013
Sitting on a cliff edge, two figures are watching the world's end
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November 30, 2013
Commuting is easy. Connecting? Much harder...
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November 24, 2013
With every choice made comes a dozen others unmade...
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Average: 5 (1 vote)
December 02, 2013
Gravity Girl is up to her usual tricks - can Quantum Man and his trusty feline sidekick save the day?
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November 27, 2013
With his wife in a seven-month coma, Tom has a difficult choice to make
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September 06, 2013
A radioactive atom seeks answers to life's fundamental questions

Quantum Theories: A to Z

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.

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.

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.

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.

I is for ...
Information

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

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.

A is for ...
Act of observation

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 ...
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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

K is for ...
Kaon

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

R is for ...
Randomness

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

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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”.

I is for ...
Interferometer

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

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.

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.

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.

G is for ...
Gluon

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

K is for ...
Key

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

U is for ...
Universe

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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