Love, Bob

Your rating: None
Average: 3.8 (10 votes)

Oct 25th, 2032

Dear Alice,

It’s already fall here; the bike trail to the university is resplendent with the red and yellow of maple and poplar. When I take the trail in the morning, there are as many photographers and couples holding hands as there are students rushing to their classes. The weather’s been good, perfect for long walks. I miss you - it sucks that you are so far away.

Days are normal, or at least as normal as it gets for a beginning graduate student in physics. Still trying to balance my own courses and teaching. I am leading recitations on the sophomore Quantum course this Fall, and we have just reached the part on entanglement. How teaching physics has evolved! I was recently flipping through an old book of Quantum Mechanics for undergraduates, and guess what - they didn’t even mention qubits once! I covered the usual stuff on EPR paradox and Teleportation, and just before wrapping up, told them my original joke on Quantum entanglement (how many times have I told you this?)

“An entangled state is like a couple in true love. In a pair of qubits in Bell state, you get a completely mixed state when you measure one of them, even though they are perfectly correlated when measured together. Likewise, in a perfect relationship, the lovers lose their individuality only to develop irritating conjugal habits.”

My attempt at humor only got a few smiles (remember, when I first told you this joke, you couldn’t stop laughing for a whole of ten minutes?), while most of the students responded with looks that betrayed their disappointment with their teaching assistant. Kids these days, I tell you.

The highlight of my day, however, is going to the department café for breakfast. Every day, I stand in the queue for beverage. The options of hot chocolate and mocha stare down at me from the menu. As I get closer to the counter, my heart starts beating faster – hot chocolate or mocha, what is it going to be today? Hot chocolate is your favorite, mocha mine. My watch begins its countdown, and the moment it displays 9.30 am, the metallic band on my right-hand glows red and displays a text – there are only two possibilities: yes or no. Today I got a yes, after three, yes three, consecutive days of no, and could finally start my day with coffee instead of chocolate. How does it feel now, huh? I hope you enjoyed your cup of mocha.

Sometimes I look at my band, and can’t believe that it stores the qubits paired with yours, in your band, thousands of miles away! My theoretician’s brain can’t even wrap itself around the fact that we can now store isolated pure quantum states over such long times, at room temperature, in a handheld instrument! I feel the same sense of awe that I felt the first time you gave the band to me, the night before we had to board our respective flights to distant cities. If I close my eyes, I can still visualize the scene – you on your knees, holding two boxes in your hands, and asking me if I wanted to share a Bell pair with you. I thought you were joking – but then you showed me the bands, and the box, and yes, I must have jumped a couple of feet up in the air when I realized what I was holding. A pair of seemingly normal metal bands, each containing one qubit each of a thousand Bell pairs? Which can be configured to make synchronized measurements, a thousand miles apart? But most importantly, a quantum device that can be used to perfectly match our beverages every morning, unbeknownst to us a priori? This would have been a sci-fi story even a few years ago!

Here you go – my list of beverages over the last week –
10/21 - Mocha
10/22 - Hot Chocolate
10/23 - Hot Chocolate
10/24 - Hot Chocolate
10/25 - Mocha

Does it match yours? They should match, otherwise quantum mechanics is failing. Ha! Maybe we should get a post-quantum PR box set next.

Long distance sucks, but quantum non-locality gives some solace.


About the Author: 
I am a physics graduate student at the University of Maryland, College Park. I am interested in quantum information, theory of quantum matter, and the written word.