Raining quantum cats and dogs: quantum collapse and Hinji "shapeshifting"
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2394, Vol. 51(3)
Schrödinger may have had his cat, but the United Federation of Planets is now faced with a creature of far more permanence than that ill-fated (or totally fine) feline: the Hinji
This race of shapeshifters has baffled Federation xenobiologists who clamber to study the little data we have about them. A humanoid who can change their form at will within the span of a second is impossible from a physiological standpoint, as the trauma to the system from such rapid transformations would destroy complex life. This paper posits the true nature of Hinji shapeshifting: they do not change form at all; they are two simultaneous forms, what observers see is what the Hinji choose to be observed.
Observations of macroscopic systems (such as humanoids, cats) are typically entangled with the state of their environments, so although these systems may evolve into a superposition of classically distinct quantum states (“alive,” “dead,” “Terran,” “Vulcan,” or “cat”) the average of the quantum states of the environment determines a definite probability. We base what we see on the resulting observation.
Certainly, Starfleet reports have often turned up examples of exceptional entities with unique molecular and quantum states that defy typically understood physical coherence. Although there is little known about the species, the Allasomorphs of Daled IV [Picard, USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D), SDID 42568.8] shape their very molecular structure at will, but aren’t believed to be shackled to a single corporeal form. The Changelings of the Gamma Quadrant [Sisko, SB Deep Space 9, SD 2371], on the other hand, are partially composed of enzymes resulting in their morphogenic matrix that allows them to alter their forms. The Hinji do not match the abilities of either of these anthropomorphic species.
The foundational work of T’saarri et al. [Vulcan Science Academy] in the 22rd century proved that quantum superposition can be achieved on macroscopic scales. Furthermore, at any given instant of time, many properties of subatomic particles cannot be exactly determined, and so they experience a superposition of many states. This is limited at higher levels of existence, which is why we don’t experience cats as both alive and dead. However, in the case of the Hinji, this theory predicts that at the moment of wave function collapse—the moment of direct observation—the Hinji exist as not one, but two states, and these two states are somehow significantly less limited by their macroscopic environments. Whether by mistake or design, they have some agency over this state, resulting in either their humanoid or animalistic forms. They are not one or the other, they are both, but what is observed is their agency over the quantum collapse observed. Approaching more than two states would be exponentially destabilizing to the balance of this unique macroscopic superposition, which is why I posit their limit is two simultaneous states.
If this is the case, the question is “how?” One possibility is a small neurological pulse in the Hinji’s sympathetic autonomic nervous system that triggers a bio-chemical superconducting quantum interference field [Akimoto, Massachusetts Institute of Technology]. This would act as an internal switch, to the Hinji a biological impulse that allows them to decide which state observers see. They would likely not be aware of the switch, but are highly aware of its function. Is this the result of some bizarre subatomic mutation? Experimentation?
This would also keep in line with initial Federation observations, the shocking experience of how at one moment observers could be looking into the eyes of a humanoid Hinji and the next a dog-like creature is sitting before them. There is little to no other physical transference—clothing, jewelry, piercings—in either direction because while dog-state-Hinji could be wearing, say, a bandana, the humanoid-state-Hinji also wearing the same bandana is statistically impossible, so the bandana is discarded until it can be retrieved and applied to the humanoid-state, and vice versa, although loosely fitted objects may transfer. Similar to the issue of physical transference, I further posit that in an enclosed space in animal-state, a Hinji could not switch to a larger state, as it would be a physical impossibility to observe a larger creature enclosed in a space that would hold a smaller one, thus restricting undue messiness resulting from “shapeshifting” in dangerous contexts.
This would explain why Hinji typically choose to live in either their animal or humanoid state for longer periods of time, as has been observed. Social mores would have developed as they have surpassed initial consciousness into a complex society, dictating social rules over the “shapeshifting.”
Another question lingers over the Hinji’s double quantum state: why animals? Surely larger, hardier and powerful forms would be more desirable. I believe this question is a sociological one, as the Hinji apparently have a tribal history with a totem identification system. More research needs to be completed on Hinji history and the distinction between tribal affiliations and their animal state.
This is, of course, only a theory. The experiments to prove this theory have not even been dreamt up as the Hinji are a unique case in any humanoid to date—unshackled as they are by typical quantum collapse. I have outlined my theories in the attached study using contemporary quantum models in application to macroscopic processes and available literature, mostly based on the works of T’saarri and Akimoto. While shapeshifting is a convenient term, my theoretical conclusion, however, remains that Hinji are not one shape or the other, they simply are as they are observed. Move over Schrödinger’s cat.
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