Quantum Phun

October 24, 2015 § 1 Comment

Mindy and Steve, both physics post-docs and still very much in their idealistic phase, wanted to do something truly revolutionary with their work. They both became obsessed with how to observe quantum phenomena without causing a breakdown of the wave function. The physics department’s recent acquisition of a shrink ray provided just the opportunity.

So far as they knew, they were the first to think of shrinking a person small enough to observe quantum phenomena directly. They first tried shrinking other live things, rats, bunnies, even Steve’s dog Rover. Each of the animals came back to full size in an hour still alive and fine. They even did psychological tests to make sure everything was ok there. The only anomaly they found was that Rover seemed to want to roll over much more after, but dogs are dogs so they decided to go ahead.

Mindy volunteered to be shrunk; ever since she was a child she was fascinated by quantum physics. She wasn’t going to miss the chance to be the first person to observe it directly.

“Ok,” said Mindy, “I’m ready to go.” She was seated on a metal table in the middle of the lab with the shrink ray facing her about five feet away from the table.

“Gotcha, booting up,” said Steve. “Almost there. Systems are go, power charging. Setting parameters to one hour. Shrinking in three….two….one…”

A bright light flashed and Mindy had to close her eyes. She felt an odd sensation throughout her whole body, a bit like a gust of wind was just passing straight through her. She didn’t feel like she was shrinking, actually more like her body was being stretched out. It was like she was made of taffy and someone was pulling her out.

She tried opening her eyes, but she couldn’t see anything. In fact, she couldn’t really feel anything now either, at least not in the normal way…it was more like she was just conscious of her self. She tried to move her arms, but all it seemed to accomplish was to create a sort of hum around her.

All of a sudden she was aware of something approaching her. It felt, or rather she was conscious of it, as a sort of loud disruptive sound. It flew past her and made her whole body shake violently.

“What in the world was that?!” She wondered, even as she was aware of another flying past a little farther away. She thought hard as it became evident that more might come, and from the pain she felt from the first one she was worried that a direct hit might injure her. “It must be…the table!” she thought. “Some kind of residual traces of radioactive isotopes in the metal. That’s not good for me.”

The next instant she was aware of another coming her way, straight at her. She tried to move with her arms and legs, and all that happened was a hum. Then she remembered Rover and tried to roll. It worked! The disruptive wave flew right past her.

Then, something changed. It felt like a shrinking of her body. It seemed to her as if she was getting smaller and smaller, but more in one location. Realizing what was happening, the next instant she was back on the table in the lab, a normal size again with a big grin on her face.

Peter Bryant


§ One Response to Quantum Phun

  • OK, maybe I just did not catch it in the story or I just did not properly infer, but WHAT HAPPENED IN THE END? I am so curious! I love this post, but I have so many questions, not just about what happened in the sory but also why you chose to include certain details.

    What was flying past her?

    Why did she feel like she was being stretched when she was shrinking and then near the end of the story feel like she was being shrunk in one location?

    When I read the story I was very interested in the concept of what could be going on and I think there are so many different routes you could take by giving humans the ability to shrink to quantum size and observe the quantum mechanical phenomenom at such a scale. This could definitely be made into a longer short story and it would be very interesting especially if the concepts were more in detail. It is a very creative idea and just the thought of the shrinking ability has me thinking of other scenarios and what could be possibly observed at the quantum level if the observer was on the same scale as the quantum level. Would the observer be able to observe quantum mechanical phenomenom similarly to how we can observe phenomenom in the macro level or would the observer become a part of the wave function and truly split into multiple consciouses, each a different version of the wave function collapse? Or would the observer simply have a near impossible time observing as in this story? This is a concept very hard to begin to imagine and wrap the mind around past simply thinking of it as impossibility and moving on, but I love it!

    I absolutely love the idea of this post and how the story was told but I was left a bit confused and I would love if you could clear up what was actually happening. Thank you so much for this thought provoker!

    Cassandra Woolley


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