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The Quantum Mosquito and the SAD Electron


Quantum Physics is not so difficult to understand, especially if you stay in the tropics, have plenty of flies and mosquitoes around you and have noticed that these insects show paranormal powers, particularly when you approach them with an intent to kill.

Before we get started, here are a few terms you can familiarise yourself with

1. SAD (Social Anxiety Disorder). A fancy term to describe shyness and to help the pharma industry treat someone who behaves normally.

I don’t know about you, but I definitely have it. If you change your behaviour in response to an observer or another person in your space, then you have SAD too.

2. The Copenhagen interpretation: Physical systems generally do not have definite properties prior to being measured, and quantum mechanics can only predict the probability distribution of a given measurement's possible results. The act of measurement affects the system, causing the set of probabilities to reduce to only one of the possible values immediately after the measurement. This feature is known as wave function collapse.

(Note: If you feel as if you are going to collapse after reading the above definition from Wikipedia, then you can just read the statement below which should help make it easier to understand )

Copenhagen Interpretation in layman terms: An observer impacts the way you behave.

3. Quantum Mosquito: A mosquito that behaves as an electron

4. SAD Electron: An Electron that behaves a lot like a human being (Secretive, multiple personalities, shy and manipulative )


There is one mystery that I had not been able to understand till recently and even after I seemed to have unravelled it, it really doesn’t help. That is why it feels so much like quantum physics. You have equations, you have answers, you know it all and yet it does not make sense. When you are in the classroom it is SCIENCE, if you discuss it outside the class you sound RELIGIOUS. In the classroom you can boast and say that you are Atheist, outside you become A Theist. However if you were to see from the quantum perspective you are both at the same time Atheist and A Theist.

I am sorry to digress from the topic. Lets get back on the track again, before quantum physics derails us

The Mystery:

For a very long time, I couldn’t understand as to how mosquitoes that had been buzzing around me, could predict and respond to my intentions. The minute, I held my breath, stealthily took the electric mosquito racket and pressed the power button- they disappeared! If however, I held my breath and took hold of the racket that was switched off, the mosquitoes did not even attempt to do the disappearing trick till I pressed the power on button!. It really did not make sense. How were they able to figure out my intentions and also the state of the racket?

That is when Quantum physics came to my rescue. I read about an experiment conducted at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. The findings indicated that the electron changed its behaviour when it was being observed.

Here is a quick overview of the experiment:

The setup included an electron emitting gun and a plate with two slits, placed in front of a screen. If one of the slits were to be blocked the electrons behaved as particles and formed a single bright line on the detector screen as expected. However if both the slits were opened up, the electrons from the beam went through the open slits and they caused an interference pattern, seen as multiple bands, on the screen. An interference pattern indicates that the electrons are now behaving as waves.

The scientists changed the settings on the electron emitter gun so that it gave out only one electron at a time. Since there was only one electron being emitted by the gun they assumed that it would go through either of the slits. When they conducted the experiment with just one electron, to their surprise, the pattern on the display screen indicated that the electron was going through both the slits at the same time!

How can one electron go through both the slits at the same time? The scientists wanted to see as to what was happening and decided to place a detector near the slit so that they could observe as to how the electron was pulling off the trick.

When they placed a detector near the slit, the electron changed its behaviour, it started behaving as a particle. It went through either slit but not through both. The minute the detector was switched off, the electron started going through both the slits at the same time.

It was as if the electron was affected by the presence of an observer.

To me this was a revelation. The electron was either acting shy or wanted to hide its little magic trick of being able to go through both the slits at the same time. No matter what, it had the ability to sense the presence of an observer and change its behaviour accordingly. What was even more surprising was that, the electron, just like the mosquito, was able to detect if the machine was turned on or off before it made changes to its behaviour!

A mosquito at 2.5 mg is a collection of approximately 8.36 x 10 raised to 20 electrons or 83,60,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,000 electrons. If one electron is capable of fooling a quantum physicist, do I stand a chance against so many?

Perhaps I could find a way to trick these mosquitoes if the physicists are able to figure out a way to fool an electron. Till then, I will have to bear with the disappearing mosquitoes powered by SAD electrons.


To Read more about the experiment conducted at the Weizmann Institute:


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