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Quantum Mix-up (Don Dodson)
(original, smirk, science)

                             QUANTUM MIX-UP

                              A True Story

           "The laws of physics have no basis in reality.
            They describe the operation of the human mind."
                                    --- Robert Anton Wilson

   Reality inverted itself, revealing the truth at the core of all  
these illusions.  Suddenly I could see more clearly, although my eyes 
were closed.  The world remained the same, but reality changed completely.
In the background, Carl Sagan's voice droned on about trillions of 
trillions of stars.  Everything stopped and increased in its rapid
ascent towards the depths of nothing.  Suddenly, I was surrounded by
fourty-seven trillion black cats who were both dead and alive and
were therefore neither dead not alive.  It all depends on which space-time
continuum you happen to be in.  A short, bald man approached me and asked
"What if the earth were toroidial, duo-equatorial and uni-polar?"  and 
walked on before I could respond.

   Then I perceived a little bearded man in a white robe on the non-Euculidean
checker-board with me, infinitely far away, but approaching.  Space became
time and time became space in a never-ending cycle, and the man approached.
I noticed that each time he passed one of the ambiguous cats, he pointed
his non-existant staff at it and read one of the infinite numbers from the
parchment in his hand.  As he did this, each cat disappeared but was still
there.  Finally the man approached me, glanced at me absent-mindedly, and
began to read another number.  Half way through the lengthy number, he
looked up at me again with a puzzled expresion.  "What are you doing here?
This is Schrodinger's Cat's department.  Humans are on plane #1793242123, 
department, um, it's slipped my mind.  Ask the thing at the Information
Desk.  I'm going to have to complain.  I've had over seventy-three billion
quantum mix-ups this afternoon.  They had a pink elephant in with Pavlov's
Dogs.  Quality control isn't getting their job done.  We've had so much
trouble since Heisenberg came up with his principle.  What's it called?" he
pondered, scratching his head with his non-existant staff.  "I'm uncertain.
Oh yes!  That's it."

   Throughout his speech I couldn't get a word in edgewise, and he certainly 
wasn't helping to clear up any questions.  As far as I could see, there
were three possible explanations for what was occuring:  either I was having
a really strange dream, or I was the subject of some government experiment,
or there was something other than tomato juice in that tomato juice I
drank last night.  Finally, having collected my jumbled thoughts into another,
equally jumbled state, I asked, "Who are you?"

   "Who am I?"  He repeated with a look of genuine suprise.  "Why, I'm the
Eigenstate Determiner.  What universe are you from?"

   "What do you mean 'Which Universe?' I'm in THE Universe, I think .. 
My god .."

"Yes?" he answered before I could finish.

   I jumped.  He sure didn't look like the gaseous vertibrate alpha-male I  
had seen pictures of.  "Oh, nothing," I responded, hoping he wouldn't zap me.
Then, as an afterthough, I asked, "Say, how do I get back to Earth?"

   "Just go the the Information Desk and they will send you to your department
where you will be assigned to an eigenstate," he answered.  "Well, I've got
to go," he continued.  "Time is about to pass."  He turned and hurried off,
making more cats disappear and still be there.

   I realized, too late, that I had no idea where this Information Desk was
located, so I began wandering randomly among the fourty seven trillion black
cats.  After several hours of this, Robin Hood jumped out from behind of an
invisible tree.  "Who goes there?" he demanded.  I noted that the arrow in his
bow was greatly foreshortened.  "Me," I responded, wondering if my answer
gave him the information he wanted.  Finally , after a long pause, I asked
"Where is the Information Desk?" 

   "Oh, you're another of the Quantum Mix-Ups, not a probability bandit.  You
never can tell these nano-seconds.  Its right over there."  He pointed behind
him.  There ,just a few giga-parsecs in the indicated direction, was the
Information Desk.  I walked through the Yeti department and past a few hundred
trillion Shakespears trying to duplicate the writings of a monkey typing
random keys on a typewriter.  Finally I got in line behind a pink elephant
and seventy-three billion other very confused life forms, including a few
other carbon based ones.  I waited for a few eons and soon got to the front.
A little green thing with a badge identifying it as a "Quantum Corrections
Officer" glanced up at me.

   "There you are," it snapped, appearing slightly annoyed.  "Well, wadaya 

   "I was just wandering if I could get back to Earth," I replied.

   Its three eyes peered over the tops of its spectacles.  "Why should I 
tell you?"

   "Because I'm important!" I blurted out.

   "No you're not," it snapped back.  "You are merely a character in a story.
For all I know, you may not exist at all.  I once had a cat with that problem.
Very sad.  Very sad indeed."

   "But I'm the main character!" I implored.

   "All right, all right," it conceeded, with the air of one who has been 
interupted from something very important.  "Plane #1793242123, department
#6443512, right that way.  Better hurry."

   I started out "that way".  En route I was approached by little men selling
stone postcards from Crete, but they were driven away when belgian endives
began raining out of the sky.  Finally I could see a huge group of people
in the distance.  As I got closer I recognized all of them as being me.
I joined them and began discussing politics, religion, water floridization,
and other scandals.  They seemed to be a very agreeable group of people.  After
quite a while my attention was caught by the little man in the robe.  He was
busy making other me's disappear but still be there.  At first this enraged
me, but soon it didn't seem like such a big deal.  After all, there were
nine hundred seventy-six trillion of me here.  Eventually the little man 
approached me and began to consult his parchment.  I could see what I 
recognized to be the Probability Wave Equations scrawled on it.

   "Wait a minute!"  I demanded.  "What are you doing?"

   "Measuring you," he replied, pointing his non-existant staff at me and 
reading off some big number.

   Reality uninverted itself and truth became hidden in illusions once again.  
My eyes were open, but I could not see clearly.  The world remained the same
but reality changed completely.  I became aware of my physics teacher 
explaining the theory behind the Schrodinger's Cat paradox:  "If you put
a cat in a box with a devise which will kill the cat at a completely random 
time, you don't know if the cat is alive or dead until you look in the box.
According to the Probability Wave Equation, it is alive in one alternate
parallel universe, and dead in another.  However, the laws of Quantum Mechanics
prove that, until you open the box, the cat is both dead and alive and is
therefore neither dead nor alive.  The only way to tell which eigenstate you
are in is to look in the box.  Measurement is merely a method to determine
which universe you are in.

                                      --- Don Dodson
                                          The Mad Fishmonger

(From the "Rest" of RHF)

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