Helping people find out more

When trying to write the story, and work some science into it, it has become apparent that I can’t fully explain complex quantum phenomena in under 200 words. Shockingly. So I have decided to add a ‘Show Me’ link, which will link to a page with YouTube videos and web links. It will have the same background design. I’ve made one so far, but I have a lot to do:

Story ideas

Here are some ideas for the overall storyline for the story. There will be different paths through the story, but there will be an overall goal – otherwise I’ll have too much of a job to do! The following are some quick (slightly dodgy) ideas which I can start with.

  • Erwin Schrodinger asks you to find his cat
  • Trapped in the quantum universe, you have to track down Schrodinger (probably the father of quantum mechanics) in order to get out
  • You have been shrunk by a mad professor, who wants you to find something (what?) before he will let you out
  • You wander past a village being terrorised by Maxwell’s demon, and resolve to hunt it down

I quite like the Maxwell’s demon idea, but I’ve still got a lot of thinking to do!

What’s in a name?

Well quite a lot actually. I’ve been thinking a lot about names. My initial idea was Alice in Quantumland, but I decided that that was a bit clichéd – and sure enough, there are lots of examples to show that this isn’t exactly a novel idea.

Instead, I thought that since the main link to quantum mechanics is through the idea that every decision creates a parallel universe, that calling the site ‘Parallel’ would work. I like this, because it encompasses lots of ideas – parallel universes, the idea that people can read in parallel to one another, the idea that the site ‘draws parallels’ with quantum ideas… ‘Parallel’ no longer looks like a word now.

Inspiration strikes

Warning: this post is rather physics-heavy, as it’s very much written for me. I’ll do a much better job of communicating it on the site. Possibly.

Inspiration came from re-reading Marcus Chown’s book The Universe Next Door, which contains lots of strange theories about the way the Universe works – including ideas like parallel universes and time travel. I think I’d like to do a story where the protagonist somehow falls into another world, where quantum effects are much more important. Perhaps the protagonist could be shrunk (this leaves scope for them to grow to then see general relativistic effects). There are lots of very weird effects at the quantum level – like particles teleporting through barriers – which can be quite simply explained. The user’s task would be to get out of the other universe – perhaps by finding Einstein or Feynman to help. I could also get some history of science in – people like Newton and Descartes who would not have liked quantum uncertainty.

This has the really nice twist of being a story about parallel universes which creates them: at each decision point, there are two (or more) possible futures. The user decides which future universe to enter, and leaves the others behind – but they still exist within the website, only the user cannot access them, or know how the story would unfold there.

Website names – not sure. Alice in quantumland? Nice, as also makes reference to ‘Alice’ , who is often used along with ‘Bob’ to conduct thought experiments in physics. However it might be a bit gender specific. Does Alice and Bob in quantumland have the same ring to it?!

Thinking of Alice and Bob, they would need to be your companions in this world – they are used to explain many things – so that could be the first branching point: go with Alice, go with Bob, or go it alone…

I’d need to get a bit more up-to-date information to do this, so I’ll dig out Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You (also by Chown), to look for the more up to date stuff. I’ll use his books as a base, because he writes popular science books, so the topics he picks will be the easiest to popularise.