Heist

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"But I believe that in technology, everything is possible, it’s a question of time and speed. Quantum is, on paper, able to hack the blockchain but it has to be effective very quickly because it will have to hack the millions of computers (on and offline) which contain the blockchain copy. That’s maybe the real difficulty to perform the hack."
-Anonymous

The word heist usually isn’t associated with quantum particles. A wry smile formed on Erik’s mouth. But that’s exactly why he knew this was going to work, they’d never see it coming. It had all started with a more standard dream of making money. China’s economy was beginning to boom, and the word blockchain technology was the new buzz word. So, with the few dollars he had he bought a ticket, packed a bag with his one good wrinkled suit and headed off to make his fortune. Everyone was using blockchain to secure their currency. He had flown in, established himself at one of the venture startups, and then begun learning everything he needed to know about blockchains.

It was so boring. The little secret nobody tells you about startups is that you don’t really make money unless someone actually buys your company. Erik was a clever guy with a nice enough face, this meant he was the guy behind the booth at all the trade shows. Usually they were less than fascinating, at some point companies realized sex sold better than their proof of concept so the floor would be flooded with models attempting to attract attention to each booth. Erik was no model and decided it might be more fun to observe the competition, ahem intellectual peers.

Whether a twist of fate or probability Erik met Lima. The first thing Erik liked about Lima was that she spoke fluent English. The second was that she was a talker. Her five-foot frame belied her natural energy, describing her as bouncy didn’t do it justice. Spending all your time coding in a foreign land hidden away in a supply closet filled with server racks was despite to say, lonely. Lima wasn’t really part of the startup crowd, she was an ex-military scientist from the Ukraine working on experimental physics, and even though she probably would be in more than a lot of trouble if anyone knew, she liked to talk about work.

Now most people might prefer being knocked unconscious to a discussion of experimental physics, but it had been a long time since Erik had someone to talk to. He prided himself as a smart enough guy, but after a few hours of chattering on about this and that he finally said. “But what do you do? Why does anyone care about quantum states, how does that affect me, cuz it doesn’t.” Maybe he needed to work at being more patient. He really didn’t want to lose his only talking buddy.

You might ask; why didn’t Erik have more friends? Well Erik was just smart enough to be weird, and only other smart people like weird people. Though a childhood education program popular in the states would encourage us all to be more friendly and end each episode saying:

"You've made this day a special day, by just your being you. There's no person in the whole world like you; and I like you just the way you are."

Sometimes people forget that when they get older. Fortunately, Lima was the type of adult who hadn’t forgotten.

Lima, being her cheerful bouncy self, took his question about why quantum computers mattered at face value and not as an attack on her choice of life’s work. “Basically, you can create computers that solve problems faster than today’s computers.” Now normally that ends about any conversation about quantum computing, but a little demon on Erik’s shoulder must also have been listening because he whispered the next question out for Erik. “Exactly how fast?”

The word Godspeed is traditionally used to wish someone success as they leave. This speed that Lima had was not the expression of goodwill, this speed was a mathematical what if sitting on a dusty white paper at MIT. The question of how Lima had not only cracked the engineering of qubits, the essential ability for a computer to have a 1,0, or both 1 and 0 as a stored bit was just the tip of her genius. She had also taken that process to scale, and then created an architecture that one could code to. She alone in the world had created a quantum machine capable of solving in seconds what would take traditional super computers years. She also had a gorgeous smile and was one of the few humans that tolerated Erik.

Erik finally understood why she was trolling through these trade shows on the other side of the world. She had the most amazing machine on the earth, she just didn’t know what to do with it. He also realized another reality. Having a machine that could break any cryptography that a government used to keeps its secrets in seconds would most likely end with your machine taken and you locked in a cell where no other government can find you. Because governments like their secrets.

Here Lima was, with the most valuable object and knowledge in the world, and she couldn’t even tell anyone. Except of course Erik who was also naturally chatty, lonely, and definitely not pretty enough to be a government spy. Also, he realized he should shower more. Erik decided he would have to take the chance, risk their budding friendship, and decide if she wanted to be the richest woman in the world. “There are only two possibilities: yes or no, do you want to steal all the money in the world with me?”

The greatest heist in the world began with a gorgeous smile.

About the Author: 
Miles Ercolani is not a professional author, he wrote his story for fun. He works on cybersecurity, coding, and enjoys physics as a hobby.