a call to arms

Nonlocal quantum effects pose a danger to all creation. We must take action to save the universe!

See Science, 25 July 1997, page 481. Physicists in Geneva created pairs of photons such that each pair was in what’s called an entangled quantum state. According to quantum mechanics, the entangled state collapses when it is measured for one of the photons, affecting the other photon no matter how far away. The experimenters demonstrated this by sending one photon of each pair through the optical fibers of the Swiss phone system to a village on one side of Geneva, and the other to a village on the opposite side. The settings of the instrument used to measure one photon at its destination affected the measurement of the other photon, eleven kilometers away, in a way that seems to prove that the entangled state is resolved only when it is measured.

To an experienced computer programmer, it’s obvious what causes this. The Programmer of the universe made an optimization error. He meant to speed up the universe’s code by not calculating photon properties until they were needed, but He slipped up and sometimes, in tricky cases like this, the universe doesn’t calculate properties until too late, when the photons involved have traveled far from each other. That’s how entangled states arise.

Unfortunately for humanity, nonlocal quantum effects are technologically useful. Entangled states are great for quantum cryptography, where the laws of physics guarantee that nobody’s listening in on your messages. That’s the best deal around.

We’re efficient. Before long, people will be using nonlocal quantum effects on a scale never seen in the history of the universe. We’re sure to trip some debugging code in the universe, or at least to produce unexpected results. Then the Programmer will halt the universe, curse the sneaky bug, fix it, and erase the results of the flawed run. Goodbye us.

There is only one hope. We must stop quantum mechanics research now. All physicists must be captured and put to death, or at least imprisoned so that they cannot undertake clandestine experiments. Any knowledge of quantum mechanics may be dangerous, so we must burn books that mention it, and inquire into the background of those who took physics in school.

Only then can humanity have a future.

originally written August 1997
last updated 28 June 2000