A Waveform Collapse is the reduction of a number of physical possibilities into one single possibility as seen by an observer.

***

The bar was noisy.

And full.

And the drink scrum was horrible.

These three terrible conditions were made worse by the fact that Paul and Andy had imbibed enough alcohol that it wasn’t completely clear whose round it was.

“Call,” said Paul , always the pragmatist.

“What?”

They’d had enough that simple commands needed explanation.

“Call. Heads or Tails.” Paul nodded towards the bar. “Someone has to go up there.”

As they watched, a new group entered, doing a conga line. They were wearing Santa hats, with glowing, flashing tips.

It was an office party. They thronged to the bar.

Andy considered the question. Tossing a coin was faster than their usual Rochambeau. There were less options, for a start. Though how they got to rock-paper-scissors-tank-monkey-spider-potato he had no idea.

Also…he wasn’t entirely sure he could do the monkey.

“Heads,” he announced.

The move, the Monkey. He knew how to do the dance.

Paul flipped the coin and they both watched it spin, climbing through the air, flipping over itself, reaching its apex, slowing…

Hell, who didn’t know how to do the monkey dance?

…before making its descent, where it was caught, cupped, and covered.

***

Erwin Schrödinger, an Austrian physicist, devised a thought experiment. It meant to demonstrate the conflict between quantum theory on a microscopic level, and what we see on a macroscopic level.

Stay with me. It’s got cats.

Put a living cat in a box along with a death trap: a device containing a bottle of poison, a radioactive substance and a Geiger counter.

If a single atom of the radioactive substance decays, the counter detects it, trips a hammer which breaks the bottle of poison, killing the cat.

If it doesn’t, then nothing happens.

We then seal the box and wait for a minute or so.

We, the observer, cannot know if an atom has decayed and if the cat is dead. Since we cannot know, according to quantum law, the cat is both alive and dead. It is only when we open the box and observe the state of the cat that one of the waveforms collapses, and we see if the is alive or dead.

Schrödinger is rumored to have said, later in life, that he wished he had never met that cat.

***

Paul and Andy looked at Paul’s hand covering the coin, which had now entered its Cat State. Both heads and tails.

***

There is another theory.

One which says the wave form doesn’t collapse. That both universes exist. One where a cat lives and one where it dies.

But which, then, would be Universe Prime? Which would be true reality.

The unsatisfying answer is, of course, the one You witness. You build your universe through your senses. It is the only reality You can know.

***

[Paul/Andy] [stood at the bar/got caught in a huddle at the bar/hugged a secretary/CEO/CFO/pushed his way through the crowd to get his drinks]. At the table [Paul/Andy] [watched his mate/waited until it was clear his drink wasn’t coming and got up to join him/laughed as [Paul/Andy] tried to get out of a clingy embrace from a stranger].

***

Terrence McKenna – Irish American psychonaut, researcher, lecturer – had a theory.

And it is wonderful.

It states that the Jesus Incident only happened in this reality.

That there is another where the Immaculate Conception never happened. In that reality Mary and Joseph didn’t have a child that was destined to be of great spiritual and political import.

Without the rise of Christianity, the Roman civilisation wasn’t shattered. There, Greek sience and mathematics continued to enrich roman engineering and government etc. Hypatia wasn’t stoned to death and elaborated calculus some thousand years before Newton.

He continues this line of thinking and arrives at a civilization that was so advanced by the 1900s that it worked out that we existed. That we were in a parallel timeline that wasn’t as advanced as their reality.

They did what all protective parallel civilisations would have done. They tried to make contact with us. They tried to see if they could breach the timelines make us aware of their wonders.  And they did it by detonating an atomic device in their continuum.

This, he said, was carried out in 1906 and was witnessed here as the Tunguska blast…

***

“Clearly we didn’t send it back in time.”

A room of scientists looked through the safety glass separating them from their experiment.

“How can you know that?”

The first turned to the second. Because we would have found it, read about it. It would have changed everything!”

There was silence. The first, let’s call him Brian. It is, after all, his name, continued. Suppose we put a message in there that warned them not to let knowledge of the find out. That it was a matter of utmost secrecy.”

“Because that always works.” It was a third who spoke now, this voice heavy with sarcasm.

“Thank you, Steve. I think there are better ways of stating that obvious conclusion.”

Steve left the room with an, “It is what it is.”

Chris and Brian looked at it.

Sitting on a platform in the middle of a complex set of wires, beams, and instruments, was a small metal ovoid.

They had been experimenting with wormholes, with the nature of time and space, with – ultimately – time travel. They were looking at, what they believed, was a time machine.

The ovoid was a probe that would send temporal data back to them, so that they could be sure the machine had worked, and hadn’t just vaporised the device.

“The fact that we can’t see the effects of it proves it didn’t work.”  Chris gave his old argument again.

“How would we know? If our past was changed so radically, we wouldn’t know it. Maybe our world is like it is because we sent it back.”

It was an old argument, and one they had been having for years. From the moment they had started working on the device it had been the same. “It can’t have worked, we’d have known about it.”

Silence again.

“Suppose it’s not our time line?”

“Again, Brian?”

“Hear me out. Suppose it’s not. Suppose that’s a fundamental law, or something. We can’t change our past, but we can look at another time line.”

“What would be the point?”

“We could see how their time line worked!”

Chris looked at him. “And? We don’t know when this thing will land. Or where. Suppose it’s some prehistoric lava pool and it just explodes. We only have one.”

“That could explain why we haven’t found it.”

***

Kicking out time, and Andy and Paul had gone their separate ways. Paul to write…something. He had tried to explain it but Andy… didn’t care.

His girlfriend was coming home.

He hadn’t seen her for a month. Work had taken her away but tomorrow she would unlock the door and find him…less broken than he should be, because he would do all the post think things you’re meant to do.

He promised himself that, at least.

***

They had covered a wall in ink.

The math was… if they had to be honest, it was desperate, but could bear testing.

“We should model this tomorrow,” yawned Chris. “Make sure the numbers are right. It could be interesting.

“Model? We should send the damn thing away! What’s wrong with you?”

“What’s wrong with me? We’re SCIENTISTS! Christ, Bri. This is an experiment. Which could have massive repercussions-“

“Which we would have seen the effects of!” Brian interrupted.

“Really?” Steve had returned with an enormous mug. “Screaming like school kids?”

“What’s that?” Chris asked.

“Coffee.” Steve took a sip. “Just brewed.”

“Where’s mine?”

“In the pot. Like it always is.”

Chris sighed and headed for the door. “Wanna look at those numbers?”

Steve walked to the wall and stared. “Jesus,” he announced. “Those are a bit desperate.”

***

“And so to bed.” Andy announced to his phone. He was looking at his lasts SMS. “One more sleep.”

He turned over and, for the first time in a month, drifted off happy.

***

Chris returned to the room. Steve was giving live commentary on the numbers on the wall. Brian was tapping away at a keyboard.

“Are you working on that model already?”

Brian looked up, grinning. “You could say that.”

He flicked a switch.

Waveform collapse.

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So – every year I do an Advent Story but this year, what with the teaching and the travelling I’ve been a little… busy.

Which is doubly annoying because I also wanted to do NaNoWriMo this year.

But I do have something kicking around. I’ll try and make it daily and, because it started late, I’ll try and push it on for longer.

It’s not all Santa and Snow – but, you know, none of the others were either…

 

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