A horror story

– Can you tell me a scary story today, baba?
–Do you want to hear about demons? Perhaps, villainous creatures that lurk in the night?
– No, those are all boring. Can you tell me something that is really horrifying?
– Yes, I think I can.
–Does this story have ghosts?
– No, this story is even more frightening than ghosts, because it is real. Let me tell you a secret first. Everything you see around you seems to follow certain predictable laws that you’ve been observing since you were born.
– And?
– And, today I am going to tell you that these laws work, but that they are not always true. What you have noticed in your life has been by a process we grown-ups call inductive reasoning. It is something a very bright man by the name of Sir Isaac Newton used to describe the world. He saw the world pretty much the same way that you see it.
– If he was a smart man, then why isn’t what he saw true?
– Well, there was another smart man, Albert Einstein who said that notions like space and time are connected and our observation of objects and time depends on how fast we are moving.
– I am not moving!
– I hate to disappoint your worldview, son, but we are all moving. You, me, the earth, the sun, the galaxy, the stars.
– That’s not too scary, I guess.
– Wait, there’s more. At another level, there are another set of rules that are the opposite of what even Einstein thought. And people call this quantum mechanics.
– I don’t much care for names. Why should I be scared of this?
– Because this is a real world around us. It is hidden to our eyes, because it is very tiny.
– Smaller than my Lego parts?
– Smaller than your Lego parts. These are, in fact the smallest parts. And there is even a small piece of light called a photon.
– If these parts are so small, how do I know they are there?
– That is because we can see what they do and smart men can do sums that show they’re there.
– Huh… but baba, why is this scary?
– Because in this world, things can be at multiple places at the same time, until you look for them. And then they show up in one. And then when you try to describe one thing, it affects some other different thing at the other end of the universe at the same time.
– But how can something be at more than one place, baba? How can it change something else far away?
– No one knows. Another smart man, Erwin Schrödinger tried to explain quantum theory by saying that there was a cat that was both dead and alive.
– How can a cat be both dead and alive? What will I see if I look at the cat?
– Well, if you look at the cat, it will be either dead or alive. It will be both until you look at it, then it will become either. At the same time you look. Not before. Not after.
– How is all this even possible?
– Because you are part of the story. That is the truly scary part. There are many reasons people give. Some people say that this is just the way it is. Some people say there are infinite parallel universes. Some people can do sums about wiggly strings that look very hard, so they must be on to something.
– So, what you’re saying is we don’t know?
– What I’m saying is we don’t know.
– I’m scared. I want my ma.

 

 

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