quantumWell, tomorrow is moving day. This has been a stressful week, and I have to say that my girlfriend has been pretty awesome about everything. I can’t honestly say that I’m looking forward to moving, though I am certainly looking forward to getting into my research and the program I’m going into. Nonetheless, I’m still just whining. On a less whiny and more interesting note, I’ve been listening to a number of books on astrophysics and quantum mechanics. I can’t say that I completely understand everything I’m hearing, but what I do understand is very interesting. I’m curious (and haven’t yet been able to find an answer) if anyone has done an experiment to determine if quantum particles can actually exist simultaneously in multiple places for different observers. If I have the theory correct (and if any of you are physicists please let me know if I don’t), the idea is that sub-atomic particles behave like both a particle and a wave because when left unobserved exist in every possible location in which they could exist simultaneously, but when observed the particle is confined to a single location. So, if Particle Gamma potentially exists in locations A-Z and this potential, when unobserved, has actual affects on reality, I am wondering if when simultaneously observed by three independent observers Particle Gamma will appear in location A for all three observers,or if Particle Gamma will appear in Location A for observer 1, Location D for observer 2, and Location X for observer 3. Anyway, I’ve probably garbled the theory beyond recognition anyway, so my question might not even be sensible. I do have an exercise for you. Today’s exercise is a setting challenge. You’ve all done setting challenges before… unless you’re new to the blog. So, I’m going to give you a set of general guidelines, and your job is to create a setting that fits those guidelines. Within the guidelines provided you’re free to do whatever you want with your setting.

So, you’re setting guidelines:

1) Your setting must involve high science. This could be a far future space faring setting, ancient Atlantis, or anything in between.

2) Your setting must contain at least three different political entities, and at least one of them must be oligarchic in nature.

3) Your setting must include multiple nations, but you may focus your attention on a single nation.

4) Your setting must somehow involve great questions of either science of philosophy (i.e. your setting itself must exist as an argument for a particular worldview).

5) Your setting may not include a giant space war of any kind (i.e. no historical ‘great war’ or ‘revolution’ that created the society that exists today). The setting may include violent political conflicts, but not world or galaxy shaping conflicts.

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2 thoughts on “Plot Challenge of the Week

  1. For your quantum question, I’m afraid the answer seems to be no: http://www.nytimes.com/2000/02/22/science/in-quantum-feat-atom-is-seen-in-2-places-at-once.html

    In short, the ‘multiple places at once’ is a direct result of being unobserved, and thus allowing multiple possible states to cohere at once in quantum superposition (i.e. a bunch of pseudo-particles exist on top of one another, all potential real particles). As soon as the particle is exposed to ANY outside stimulus (not just conscious observation, but exposure to electromagnetic fields, impacts with other particles, etc), those states decohere and result in only one, which reacts with the outside world. This explains why larger objects don’t exhibit any quantum properties, because their component pieces are constantly cancelling out those properties in each other.

    To be honest, though, I don’t 100% understand this myself. How do they measure these particles without causing just that, so how do they know it’s happening? What’s more, how do they isolate a particle from ALL the forces of the world. Even if you can block out kinetic impacts, electromagnetic forces, strong and weak nuclear forces from outside the particle, etc. it seems to me that gravity would still be there all the time. Is holding gravity constant enough?

    1. I don’t really completely understand it either. A lot of it is theory, though some of it does seem to have experimental support (I can’t say that I really understand how direct or complete that support is). It struck me that some of these concepts could have a very important impact on relativistic philosophies. Thanks for the analysis though.

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