“Okay Doc, what is going to happen, and remember…none of us are Nobel Winning Scientists, Physicists, or Computer Wizards…so keep it simple.”
Debbie smiled. So did Raj, Sing, Mai Ling, and Alejandro. They were her team, and they were: Scientists, Physicists, and Computer Wizards. Even they were astounded by what they were about to do…and very glad that Debbie would do the explaining. How to make something so complex sound simple was beyond their very bright minds. Debbie, though, had not only a mind that could (and did) lead them all to this point in time- but an uncanny ability to soften complexity enough to make it clear to a layman the general gist of how we got here, and what would happen.
And so she began to speak.
“Don’t worry Thomas, I will make it as simple as possible, but no simpler.”
Thomas, and everyone else present, laughed at her direct quote from Albert Einstein. It set the tone for the whole room. She wasn’t going to treat them like a bunch of idiots, merely as children who lack the tools to understand. Good.
“A long time ago Scientists believed if you knew the original conditions and motions of all objects in the Universe, you could predict every outcome. The Ultimate Theory of Everything. You would, literally…know everything that would happen…before it happened. You could predict all future events.
Of course, that was impossible. WAS.”
Everyone in the room heard the accent on “was.” That is why they were all there after all. To cover the most improbable event in the History of Humanity- turning on a Quantum Computer that will be fed the data it needs to compute the Universe. Mind bending. Mind boggling. Mind Blowing. Now, if you don’t mind, dear reader, back to the story.
Debbie pointed to a simple drawing on the giant screen behind her.
“Okay, you all know the first Quantum Computer built by Google back in 2020 was able to track just 8bits of information. But it was all the possible permutations of those 8bits and their trajectories through SpaceTime. As you know, I won my Nobel Prize for proving that those 8bits were released from the restriction of the Arrow of Time.“
Thomas interrupted her:
“We know that Doc. Everyone has read your book: “The past is present in your Future.”
Laughter rocked the room. One of the BBC reporters had shouted out at Thomas:
“Oh, yeah, Mate, we all read the bloody thing, but she understands it.”
Thomas turned both beet red, and quiet.
It was a Best Seller, but like its earlier cousin: “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking- more people read it than understood it. Debbie nodded in recognition of the laughter- then continued explaining:
“As I said in my book, Time could be followed both forward, and backward in the Quantum World. In fact, there really isn’t a past or present in the Quantum World…just Now. It is the limitation of the Physical world that limits most matter- including us Humans to the Arrow of Time.
Quantum Computing has come a long long long way since 2020. Now, here in 2050, my team (pointing at the four young Wizards standing by her side) discovered that we know how to plot all possible positions for all possible futures by setting up the original conditions and letting the Quantum Computer do the Math.”
Thomas, no longer beet red, and no longer quiet, yelled up at her:
“That’s the bit (no pun intended but enjoy it if you got it) I don’t get. You say that it is just circles. That every position in the Universe is some part of a circle, right?”
Debbie smiled. Her team looked on with pride. They knew she was going to make this as simple as possible, but no simpler.
“Thomas, that is correct. A part of a circle. And what is a circle?”
“Yes!” Debbie was delighted with the quickness of these reporters intellects, even if they weren’t trained in the rigors of Math and Physics, they easily grasped the basics. Encouraged, she went on.
“Which means- if you expand that circle into three dimensions, you get an almost Helical extension of its motion. Think of a spring being pulled apart with a string straight down the middle of the spring. At first it looks like a bunch of tiny circles pressed together, it is “round.” When you pull it apart, stretching it out along a line, you get a spiraling motion around the line of thread through the middle of the “tube.”
Debbie pointed to another graph on the big screen that showed exactly that process. A straight line, with a spiral around it.
“So we can measure the area under the curve by doing the Integral.“
Heads nodded around the room. So far, they were following her.
“But when you get to the level of particles, we have to use Feynman Diagrams to show the interactions between them, for example: two gluons bashing up against each other. In that case (pointing to third chart) you have to add up all the possible interactions of the two particles and their final states. And that is a lot of diagrams. All those diagrams give us the direction and velocity of the particles themselves, their vectors and their final states. But they are really tiny circles- and by looping the Integrals of them, we can predict what would happen.
This is the technique that Mathematicians used to predict…and find…the Higgs Boson. A complicated by product of adding the scattering amplitudes to find what the particle will do. Calculating scattering amplitudes was impossible - until now. Once you remove the virtual particle from the process, you can simply model the physical particle by treating it as a series of tiny circles, and each of those can then be described as the area under the curve.
Until the Quantum Computer, we didn’t have a machine capable of doing the addition of all the possible scattering amplitudes - even the most powerful computers in the world couldn’t handle the calculations. But now…well, we can. As soon as I turn this damn thing on.”
Debbie turned with a fluid grace towards the simple blue button on the table. A simple switch was attached to that blue button. A switch that would turn on the most powerful Quantum computer ever designed. It would (or should) be able to do every addition of the scattering amplitudes of every particle in the Universe. If it works…we will know the Future.
Debbie smiled at everyone and pressed the button.
It turned bright blue, signaling that the Quantum Computer was working. A moment later…it went dark.
Debbie hit the button again. Again it turned bright blue. A moment later it went dark.
She tried a third time.
And then she heard a scream from Raj.
Raj screamed. He screamed again. Then he pointed. Every head in the room turned to look. He was pointing at three shimmering points in the metal walls of the CERN Accelerator behind them. (CERN is where the Quantum Computer was located- it made sense to build it there. Where it could be right next to the data collection) The whole team stood mouths agape. A few minutes later, and everyone’s mouths were agape.
Each of the three shimmering points in the wall expanded to the approximate size and shape of a Human Being. Out of each of the three shimmering “holes” in the wall stepped out a single “person.” Each of them was dressed slightly different than the others. Each was slightly different looking than the others. But each of them were clearly Human. Sort of.
Nobody moved. Nobody breathed. Nobody did anything but stare with blank looks and minds just as blank as the looks they gave the three beings. Beings who stepped out of the wall like they were used to it.
Nobody was ready for all three beings to speak at the same time. Nor were they expecting all three beings to say the same thing. But what the three beings said was so human, so very typical, so openly honest…that everyone laughed at both the words and the tone those words were delivered in. A tone that everyone in the room recognized: A mom who had had enough.
“Will you please stop hitting that button?!”
It took the World’s best Scientists, Philosophers, and Computer Wizards to piece together the story that the three beings told them. It appears that each time Debbie had hit the button, she had created a brand new Universe- fully expanded and evolved, and when she hit it again, she ended that one, and started a new one.
Scientists in those three Universes finally located where the distortion in their Futures and Pasts were coming from. Using their own physics and manipulation of scattering amplitudes, they pinpointed where- and when- things changed.
Nobody hit the blue button ever again.
The Universe - or any Universe- could be reduced to a circle. A circle that could be reduced to just the area under the curve.
The Blue Button calculated the Integral - and created another one.
The three beings hated the name, but understood why we called them that:
They brought Time to a halt, and we all live in the Now …now.
The Past and the Future are paths we can travel at will…leading us in circles of endless fascination.