Quantum Mechanics Can Do Anything

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"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 and mentions about "Schrodingers Cat".

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. Counterpart to Lightning Can Do Anything. Compare (or contrast) Magic From Technology. Expect a lot of Techno Babble to justify it. See also I Love Nuclear Power. For real info on quantum physics, go to the page of Quantum Physics.

Minovsky Physics is a more precise Subtrope of this.

Examples of Quantum Mechanics Can Do Anything include:


Anime

  • GN Particles in Mobile Suit Gundam 00.
  • The Time Machine in Steins;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 Schrodinger'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...

Comics

  • 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 Super Powers 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 Ilium 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."

Live Action TV

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Andromeda slipstream navigation relies on "the ability of organic observers to collapse wave functions".
  • Doctor Who has the Weeping Angels, which turn to stone whenever anything is looking at them because they are "quantum locked".

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.

Video Games

Web Original

"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."

Western Animation

Farnsworth: But, as Deepak Chopra taught us, quantum mechanics means anything can happen at any time for no reason! Also, eat plenty of oatmeal and animals never had a war. Who's the real animal?

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.