The Mathametician and the Engineer

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The date is 2315.240 and Dr. Josephine Norberg is in her study refining one of her equations on the properties of quantum bits, or qubits. She has been interested in quantum mechanics since she was ten and a freshman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She demonstrated her unique genius at age five when she predicted, using Bloch sphere equations, that teleportation could exist when the unique properties of element 120 which was discovered in 2193 were properly considered.

Dr. Norberg is a tall woman now in her early thirties. A brunette with deep blue eyes who has bleached her hair blonde since her college days, she has no trouble attracting males. Finding one who is her intellectual equal, however, has proved to be a formidable task – so she lives alone, prowling the various night spots when the urge arises.

Working with element 120 and her revised quantum equations, Dr. Norberg was able to develop a theory of teleportation, as recent work in advanced physics had shown that particles could move backwards as well as forwards in time. These equations had become easier to work with than those developed in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries due to a proof by mathematician Ngura Ng in 2252 that tachyons did indeed exist.

For over three centuries physicists had been arguing about whether time was in fact the fourth dimension because particles could move at will in three dimensions but only forward in time. Arguments about this had run from a denial of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to agreement about Rutherford’s atomic structure. Niels Bohr, four centuries ago, teased out what was to be called quantum theory, a crazy idea at the time, which was debated by Max Planck, Erwin Schrödinger and Wolfgang Pauli among others when it was first proposed. Since then luminaries and Nobel Laureates such as Richard Feynman, Noragi Yamiri, Sinjay Samaritan and most recently Hoi Yang So of the California Institute of Technology fine-tuned the equations and modified them as new information became available.

Quantum computers had become ubiquitous by 2130 and when the first large-scale quantum computer with a 200 exabyte memory found that pi began repeating at 21,238,154 places, all of mathematics and physics was shaken. This discovery, along with the unique properties of element 120 and the discovery that bidirectional movement through time was possible because of the properties of tachyon particles caused resurgences in both theoretical mathematics and physics.

Dr. Norberg’s equations astonished the scientific community and were at first dismissed. But because of her accomplishments at such a young age, a few scientific institutions had begun working with her equations. About a year and a half after she had published her mathematics, a young engineering post-doctoral student by the name of Chow Fu-Tang at the China Institute for Physics and the Public Good was studying her work and discovered that if combined with the latest results in particle physics from the new Ultra Large Hadron Collider on the far side of the moon, it would indeed be possible to teleport any object. When Fu-Tang contacted Dr. Norberg with his design for a machine which he claimed could verify her results, she was both overjoyed and skeptical. After all, no one had yet even verified her work. The engineer was adamant, however, and Dr. Norberg finally agreed to meet and discuss the design. Josephine lived in Geneva and she did most of her work in the calmness of her warm, wood-paneled study. They had agreed to meet at her home on 2315.354 as that was during the holiday break. At 16:30 Geneva time when Fu-Tang appeared it was clear that quantum theory and teleportation were no longer just theories.

Because appear is just what he did. Josephine was in her study, her Smart Board covered with some equations on which she was working, when Fu-Tang suddenly appeared beside her. She looked at him and fainted. He carried her to her couch and got a cool cloth for her head. He then went into her kitchen and prepared some tea. When Josephine awoke, she saw Fu-Tang sitting at her table, two cups and a hot pot of tea on it. He was not at all what she expected - tall for an Asian with a muscular build and intense black eyes. She arose and joined him at the table. As she recovered, he poured her some tea and awaited her questions. When they came, they came in a torrent. How, what, when, is he a projection? (Holographic projections had been around for over a hundred years and they had reached the equivalent of reality despite the slight delay that was a result of the limits of light speed.) Fu-Tang calmly sipped his tea and presented an answer that took Josephine aback.

He had been studying her equations since he was in junior high. They were an unproven backwater theory at the time but he was intrigued. His science project in his junior year of high school was a quantum computer that could calculate not only from an input to a result, but from a result to an input (or more accurately a series of inputs). It won first class at the Chinese National Science Competition in 2298. Now, at 29, he had used Dr. Norberg’s equations in quantum mechanics, the unique properties of element 120, the results of several of the latest experiments at the ULHC, the confirmation of tachyons and his engineering expertise to develop a machine capable of teleportation. In reality he existed in two places at once. He was still in China but he was also in her study. Using a device he carried with him, he could choose in which place he wished to remain. As they talked, Dr. Norberg realized that she had discovered her intellectual equal. The pace of their romance was torrid and an excited world embraced the couple as their combined talents finally allowed humanity’s journey to the stars – and beyond.

About the Author: 
Henri De Roule is the founder and CEO of The Science Experience, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people - teachers and students - learn what they will need to know in order to live and work in the 21st century through the use of interactive activities.