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Quantum Mechanics Can Do Anything
"The problem? A breakdown of Quantum cohesion. Heh, I told you Quantum would be to blame."
"And it's all thanks to, err, let's say Quantum again."

You'd like to give your character supernatural powers but you don't want it to seem too unrealistic? Are you searching a way to explain why the Big Bad can travel through time without ripping the continuum into shreds?

Don't worry. Remember, guys, a well-known Narrative Device is that Quantum Mechanics Can Do Anything. Time-travel? Check. God-mode superpowers? Check. Death rays? Check. Expect complex equations, a lot of Techno Babble and explanations of the Schrödinger's Cat experiment that make every conscious being a potential Reality Warper.

It's a lot easier when you don't have to do any research.

This trope applies when quantum physics is brought Up to Eleven to explain any kind of bizarre event or to introduce powers and/or improbable technologies which are indistinguishable from magic.

Subtrope of Phlebotinum du Jour and a type of Hand Wave. Can be considered an updated modern version to early 20th century Lightning Can Do Anything and mid-century I Love Nuclear Power, as a source of implied Magic from Technology in an age where electricity and radioactivity gradually became demystified.

For real info on quantum physics, go to the page of Quantum Physics.

More accurate-to-real-quantum-mechanics forms of this are examples of Minovsky Physics rather than this trope.


Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • GN Particles in Gundam 00.
  • The Time Machine in Stein's Gate employs the Large Hadron Collider to access the past. Explained by Makise Kurisu through a series of complicated quantum physical theories.
  • Oh boy, Noein. Listing every bit of techno-magic they call "quantum" something-or-other would take too long. Even the story itself can largely be explained using Schrödinger's Cat as an allegory (which one of the characters actually does partway through). The characters from the "future"? They can time-travel/dimension hop because they are "quantum existences". They constantly talk about making sure their "existence is established", because an "uncertain existence" leads to possibly being erased from reality. The future and the past are also not on the same timeline (of which there are infinite), but can still influence each other, and... um... wibbly-wobbly quantumey-wantumey...
  • While Murasakiiro No Qualia is actually accurate in its explanation of physics concepts, as a science fiction, it abuses physics, and in particular quantum mechanics, to quite some extent.
  • This is the Hand Wave explanation for all psychic powers in To Aru Majutsu no Index.

    Comic Books 
  • Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen: a nuclear accident turned him into a Physical God. Doc's body basically suffered 100% matter-to-energy conversion... But because his rather obsessive father trained him as a child to be a watchmaker - thus imbuing him with patience, attention to minute detail, and mechanical understanding - because he somehow retained consciousness "the very first trick [he] figured out was to put [him]self back together." Then he realized he could do it with the rest of reality too.
  • This trope is why Captain Atom is considered the Biggest Billy-Badass in The DCU, even more powerful than Superman and literally capable of doing... well... just about anything he wants.
    • Dr. Manhattan was a Captain Expy for Captain Atom when DC refused to let Alan Moore kill off all the characters they'd just acquired when they bought out a rival. And then there's alternate universe Quantum Superman, who was basically what happened when Clark Kent was the astronaut instead of, um, whoever Captain Atom was before the accident. During some big thing when all the multiverse's Supermen teamed up, Quantum Superman was about as badass as the rest put together.
  • The 21st century reincarnation of The Authority's Jenny Sparks is Jenny Quantum, a Reality Warper who, so far, can teleport, time travel, cross dimensions, create dimensions, and manipulate "quantum energy", in addition to more mundane Stock Superpowers like flight, and these are just the abilities she's manifested in her first decade. As a century baby, she still has nine more decades to develop her powers further.

    Film 

    Literature 
  • In Dan Simmon's novels Illium and Olympos, Quantum-based technology allows for the simulation of godlike magical powers. "Quantum teleportation" can be used to travel through space, time and into other dimensions. Basically the word "quantum" is dropped into any explanation of how nearly anything works in the setting.
  • "Because of quantum" is a standard Discworld Hand Wave. The interesting thing is that it's explicitly used in the same way as "magic" is used in Real Life, but on the Discworld, magic is definable, closely studied and quite well understood. (Until it blows up in your face, that is.) But anything that really doesn't make sense and can't be explained, that's probably quantum.
  • From Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds:
    "We call it a quantum snapshot, but that doesn't mean we have clue one about what was involved in producing it. That's just a name we give it to hide our ignorance."
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's Final Draft, the superhuman abilities of the functionals are explained away using quantum mechanics. In one case, the protagonist has to take a test to enter a functional building, which involves drinking acid. He ends up realizing that, in some alternate reality, there is a version of him that drinks acid for breakfast (literally) and incorporates that into himself. The only ones besides the original functionals who understand this stuff are the people from a "faraway" parallel world who have used the same knowledge to seal their reality away from all others.
  • Greg Bear's short story "Schrödinger's Plague" egregiously abuses this. A variation of the Schrödinger's Cat experiment is performed with five scientists substituted for the cat and, instead of cyanide, a Synthetic Plague with a long latency period. The physicist who planned the experiment explains that it's been "established experimentally" that conscious observation can collapse quantum states. The author's note in The Collected Stories of Greg Bear hints that the physics in the story is not legitimate, but he leaves the proof as an exercise to the reader.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Andromeda slipstream navigation relies on "the ability of organic observers to collapse wave functions".
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Out of Mind, Out of Sight", Giles gave a simplified explanation of Quantum Mechanics (or what he called it anyway) as a theory of how Marcie Ross became invisible: Everyone in Sunnydale High ignored Marcie and made her feel invisible and with a little help from the Hellmouth, her perception of herself became reality.
  • Doctor Who has the Weeping Angels, which turn to stone whenever anything is looking at them because they are "quantum locked".
  • Most everything in Fringe, such as the alternate dimensions and being able to walk through walls with a certain device that makes your atoms not interact with other atoms yadda-yadda. The show takes real science, mangles it beyond recognition, applies it improperly, takes it to the extreme and then passes it off to the audience as something feasible in the future. Which 99% of it is not, at least not in the way they try to portray it. As a drama, it's a great show. As Scifi, well, it's on the soft side. The really soft side.
  • In Power Rangers Time Force, guess the source of the Quantum Ranger's power.
  • Quantum Leap, of course. The show also established that leaping affected Sam's memory — and his own past. This allowed the writers to regularly Retcon his skills and personal history.
  • Warp drive from Star Trek is not an example but the quantum slipstream drive introduced in Voyager is. Star Trek in general treats "quantum" as a one-size-fits-all buzzword to handwave things with.
  • In Falling Skies, Karen tells Ben that the Overlords are able to predict future events, including what the rebels will do next, through their superior understanding of quantum mechanics. Ben points out that they currently have the Overlord held captive, and she admits that sometimes their calculations need adjustment.

    Table Top Games 
  • Aberrants can employ the M-R nodes in their brain to subconsciously manipulate the four elemental forces of quantum physics, and through them channel a number of desired effects attuned to the yadda yadda yadda yadda people with super-powers are awesome.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: The advanced technology of the Mecha Phantom Beasts includes quantum-output machines. The decoys created by these machines are nearly indistinguishable from the original on radar and are said to be so efficient at drawing away fire, that as long as a single decoy has been deployed, the original machine cannot be shot down.

    Video Games 
  • This is what Portal is centered around; you solve puzzles with multi-colored rips in space, generated with a gun powered by miniature black holes.
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the armor piercing mod for the pistol involves quantum tunneling.
  • The manual for Supreme Commander claims that interstellar teleportation works via quantum tunneling. That's all we get.
  • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors and its sequel Virtue's Last Reward mainly uses this, among other things, to explain the various abilities of the espers, especially the Mental Time Travel.
  • In BioShock Infinite, it creates floating cities, advanced technology, elemental powers, stable time loops, and a number of other things.
    • The floating city part, at least, is based on a real experiment. It is in fact possible to use quantum physics to make particles levitate at a fixed height. It's probably not something you could realistically scale up to the size of a city, though.

    Web Original 
  • SF Debris uses the line in one of his reviews, lampshading Star Trek: Voyager's overuse of Quantum for their Technobabble.
    "I always wondered why they didn't just do (using the transporter to teleport the baby out of a mother during birth) for every delivery. Seems a lot less painful. I am sure it has something to do with Quantum..."
    "The problem? A breakdown of Quantum cohesion. Heh, I told you Quantum would be to blame."
    "And it's all thanks to, err, let's say Quantum again."
    • And again when he reviewed WallE when it turns out the space-ship doesn't have a sophisticated recycling system and so they must make new stuff by "erm, quantum".
  • From The Onion: Sci-Fi Writer Attributes Everything Mysterious to 'Quantum Flux.'
  • Quantum Vibe, the very name is a shortened version of a fictional field of quantum physics called "quantum vibremonics", which can apparently lead to interdimensional travel.
  • Quantum Rip uses quantum mechanics as a handwave for interdimensional travel and magic.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Any number of dubious metaphysical or pseudoscientific theories splash a lot of Quantum about— so much so that there's a term for them— quantum mysticism. If someone offering you medical treatment uses the word "Quantum" in association with their treatmentnote  you would be well advised to back away swiftly.
  • Skeptoid calls this the 'Appeal to quantum physics': "a scientific-sounding way of claiming that the way your magical product or service works is beyond the customer's understanding."

Pure EnergyApplied PhlebotinumReactionless Drive
Pure EnergyArtistic License - PhysicsReactionless Drive

alternative title(s): Quantum Magic
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