Friday Fictioneers – the Copenhagen Interpretation

Photo Prompt © Janet Webb

Sam was a man. Not a special man, he passed everywhere pretty much unnoticed. The probability he was outside equalled the chances he was inside. He was everywhere and nowhere. And thus he made his living. He could pass through locked gates and stout walls, ferreting-out secrets, spying on clandestine meetings.

One day a woman noticed him. Or rather, the exquisite workmanship of the bracelet he was fingering. The observation collapsed his wave function, and he was in full view. At that moment Sam opted for the many-world hypothesis and slipped sideways, at right angles to reality.


Note on physics: the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum physics holds that, until the act of measurement, the location of a sub-atomic particle can only be described by the device of a wave function which describes the probability that it is in a particular place. The alternative many worlds interpretation says that the wave function is real and that all possible positions exist across a multiplicity of worlds.


Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.

Fancy sharpening your skill with writing exercises? The Scrivener’s Forge offers a new exercise every month to hone one aspect of your craft. Take a look at this month’s exercise on plot.



98 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – the Copenhagen Interpretation

  1. I’ve always been a fan of god playing dice with reality, I mean Quantum Physics, and watched a few videos over the last week about this very subject. I love the story, but hate that you beat me to using the concepts in a FF story 😉 Oh well, I guess I’ll go for the cat is both alive and dead, depending on which universe/timeline you followed, and in the one I’ll follow, I wrote a story about collapsing the probability waves first….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Waaaay COOL, Neil! I wanted to read more story, but you ran out of words. 😀 Start up doing another, I’d love to read it. We had a series on TV called The Gemini Man who made himself invisible using a watch-like device. Kind of reminded me of that,

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Splendid… I got it already from the title… My thesis was about tunneling actually so it made perfect sense.

    There once was a joke on Heissenberg

    “Heissenberg might have slept here, but not for sure”

    As he was famous for infidelity it was not a joke for everyone of course.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Love the Quantums and multiplexing universes. To be everywhere and nowhere at once… wish I had that device for this weekend… car-shopping with inlaws who aren’t fond of me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I too loved the line “Slipped sideways, at right angles to reality.” It inspires so many thoughts. Thoroughly enjoyed this.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wave lengths have a habit of playing with what we call so blithely ‘reality’. It is all in the pose and the attitude and neither are like any others… except by circumstantial doppelganger of course.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Entertaining and well told. Ten years ago, I would have said there was no chance of a man being in a well-defined quantum state, but given that they have now placed macroscopic objects into quantum entanglement I feel a good deal less confident. Calculating his quantum state would be a pretty mammoth task, mind. You’d have to ‘shut up and calculate’ (the other description of the Copenhagen interpretation) for an awful long time!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Nothing to apologize for, Neil. I’m not very knowledgable in science or geography. They were never interesting subjects for me. My hubby thought your story was extraordinary. I read it to him because I wanted to understand it. He enjoys these things and helped me to understand it too. One of the things I like about this writing group is that we’re all approaching the prompt from different prospectives which helps teach us along the way. Have a great weekend.
        Isadora 😎

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Awesome and thought provoking! Delighted to see science fiction from this prompt!

    So when Sam’s wave function collapsed, and he “slipped sideways”, was he simply escaping into another world where that did not happen? Or is his perception of space-time perpendicular to our own, in which case, “slipping sideways” could mean that he opted to stay in the world with the woman who noticed him?

    (Or am I a moron who thinks he is a science nerd, to be asking such a question?)

    In any case, thanks, Neil!


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