Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ted Kosmatka's "Divining Light" (novelette, quantum mechanics, free): Who else besides humans is special in God's scheme of things?

Quote from short story titled Divining Light by Ted KosmatkaThis very unusual story requires a basic knowledge of particle physics. Really interesting parts are somewhat technical.

Also, I found the first half distracting & boring. Real story begins only half way through the text.

Story summary.

Recall double-slit experiment in physics? A particle, say an electron, shows a wavelike interference pattern on detector screen. Except when there is a mechanism that detects the fact that electron passed through a that slit! And even in case of detector, if information about what the detector found is somehow wiped out before the particle hits the detector screen, wavelike behavior is restored!

This story asks the question: will the results be still altered if information recorded by detector at slit were made available to a non-human observer - say a frog, an elephant, or a still only partially developed human embryo? Very cool.

Fact sheet.

First published: Asimov's, August 2008.
Rating: A.
Download full text from publisher's site, author's site [via Torque Control, where there is also a rather long discussion on its ending]. Podcast.
Nominated for Nebula Award 2009 in novelette category.