Quantum Mechanics and a Century of lies. How Nonsense has Triumphed in our Education system

wombat

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Richard Feynman would say "Just shut up, and and do the calculations". :)
Funny what you start to remember - the physics was out of sync with our maths course, we were studying Schrodingers wave equation but we didn't solve the differential equations in maths class for another year. That happened in a few courses, using maths that we hadn't yet reached in maths class.
 


roc_

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Great Thread, but to quote Feynman again "No one understands Quantum Mechanics".
No, he said his students, and he don't.

Approaching comprehension of the true nature of reality is something not only physicists engage in. Yogi adepts for example are engaged in the same pursuit.

No doubt the West's language and habitual modes of thought today create barriers to grasping the insights that latest developments in this science are yielding.

The world will catch up eventually, just as it eventually caught up with the Copernican and Newtonian insights before, that today's modern mind takes for granted, and can't even conceive of the difficulties that say afflicted the ptolomeic or Augustinian conditioned mind.

Modern physics, our most advanced science by a long way, no longer claims to deal with what will always happen, but rather with what will happen with a very high probability - it tells us that we live in a contingent, probabilistic universe, not a deterministic one. And thus physics today asks questions which may find their answers in a large number of similar universes.

Since science is at its essence an endeavour to penetrate the natural world, to better understand reality, and by definition it consists an understanding beyond the layman.
 

wombat

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Modern physics, our most advanced science by a long way, no longer claims to deal with what will always happen, but rather with what will happen with a very high probability
I must admit, I think that's a cop out by people who can't formulate equations to describe whatever problem they're working on.
 

blinding

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Quantum Mechanics is still beyond even the most qualified / experienced Physicist .

If one of them completely understood it they would be more than happy to explain it to us .
 
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roc_

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I must admit, I think that's a cop out by people who can't formulate equations to describe whatever problem they're working on.
Maybe you'd like to offer a critique on the calculus of probabilities, on statistical mechanics, and so forth? You sound like an expert.
 

roc_

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If one of them completely understood it they would be more than happy to explain it to us .
That's why they write big books.
 

wombat

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Maybe you'd like to offer a critique on the calculus of probabilities, on statistical mechanics, and so forth? You sound like an expert.
I never claimed to be an expert, I just think that using probability or simulations may be a cop out by people who have given up on trying to describe a situation by formulating equations which can be solved. Maybe having massive computer power available allows people to take short cuts?
 

Lumpy Talbot

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Quantum Mechanics is still beyond even the most qualified / experienced Physicist .

If one of them completely understood it they would be more than happy to explain it to us .
I know this to be true. Whatever about dismissing or supporting any research on quantum mechanics there is no doubt at all that there is a quantum state.

To try to dismiss quantum mechanics altogether is to come to a conclusion which cannot stand in the face of what is experimentally verified, for example in quantum entanglement alone there are experiments devised to reveal whether a quantum state exists. There's no doubt now that what we refer to as the quantum world exists. It is more than scribbles on a blackboard.

I know a very senior quantum physicist slightly and when I was introduced to him I did as I usually do with academics- show some interest in their work once you know what it is.

His response was fairly automated and I think a routine hand-out- he said 'Bit of math'. It was only months after meeting him socially a few times I looked him up and found out he was a Professor of Quantum Physics. If you think about it there is the famous saying in such circles that it 'if you think you understand quantum physics, you don't'. He wasn't being unduly modest. He just doesn't want anyone at a dinner turning to him and asking 'I heard you do that quantum physics stuff. What is that quantum thing about, anyway?'

Must be worse than being a medical doctor at parties. If they get everyone trying to consult them for free over a slurred glass then can you imagine how hard the quantum lads and lasses avoid saying what they do at parties.

Terra Incognita. The unknown land. It is definitely there in the same way that the United States is physically there, alright. It is just that we hardly have the language, the definitions, ability to observe properly on it because it just is so alien a state to our minds, all our evolutionary has been about observation, experimentation and conclusion.

It is really hard to devise experiments which reveal the quantum world to the major physicists, never mind thee and me. That's where we are. We need new tools, new experiments and new thinking in order to even get a decent look at the thingamaloid, let alone actually comprehend the bloody space. At the moment we don't even know whether to eat it or f*ck it. So the evolutionary journey and challenges continue.
 

owedtojoy

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Quantum Mechanics is still beyond even the most qualified / experienced Physicist .

If one of them completely understood it they would be more than happy to explain it to us .
You totally miss the point.

Quantum Mechanics works ... it gives the rights answers, it can predict experimental outcomes and the performance of photonic and electronic devices. For designing vital equipment and machines, it is indispensable.

It works as well, and possibly better, than Newton's theory did for planetary motions. It probably one of humanity's greatest intellectual achievements, and the people who brought it to fruition were the brightest achievers humanity ever produced.

But beneath the calculations, there is nothing. Nothing like the space-time continuum underlying Relativity.
All the physicists can do is teach you how to do all the wonderful calculations and predict how photons and electronics will behave - which is a miracle in itself.

But if you ask: "Why is it like that?". the answer is "We do not know". There is no meta-Theory which says yes Quantum Mechanics is embedded in some universal structure. It just is, basically sub-atomic accountancy for physicists, but super-brilliant accountancy at that.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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It is a deadly subject to discuss alone just because of the requirement for a whole new branch of language in order to begin even agreeing on common understanding of the subject (outside a few rare brains anyway).

I find myself frustrated by my use of the words we use to describe physical objects in our physical world, and because I may not be qualified to discuss any physics at all I do wonder about how I'm trying for and failing to find the right words to describe my mean layman's reading of it all.

It is not just a whole new area of math, or physics, it is a whole new challenge. We've lived in this house of what we think of as normalcy for a long time, all other states being inherently strange to us as we don't have the psychology to comprehend this new world. It may even end up challenging the bedrock of the scientific method. We need to observe. We can't really get close enough to it to be able to observe. Anything else we do means it can't be science, science shouldn't exist without verifiable observation, yet quantum physics just snorts at that foppery and just exists without us being able to observe more than a shadow of it in our deep maths.

Freakiest show on the road.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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Well at least James Joyce was on to something when he came up with the new word 'quark'. That's a good start for a whole new wing of language.
 

owedtojoy

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Well at least James Joyce was on to something when he came up with the new word 'quark'. That's a good start for a whole new wing of language.
It was actually Murray Gell-Mann, a colleague of Richard Feynman, who proposed Quark as the name for the particles that combine to form sub-atomic particles like protons and neutrons. Quarks have proportions of the electron's electrical charge in thirds, and seem to occur in threes, and he remembered a quotation from Finnegan's Wake "Three Quarks for Muster Mark!".

But for some reason, Joyce's Quark (which is supposed to be the cry of the seagull) rhymes with Bark, while Gell-Mann decided to pronounce it "kwork".

An Israeli scientist came up with a similar proposal, but he called the particles "Aces", a name must less catchy and literary-savvy than Gell-Mann's idea.
 

blinding

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You totally miss the point.

Quantum Mechanics works ... it gives the rights answers, it can predict experimental outcomes and the performance of photonic and electronic devices. For designing vital equipment and machines, it is indispensable.

It works as well, and possibly better, than Newton's theory did for planetary motions. It probably one of humanity's greatest intellectual achievements, and the people who brought it to fruition were the brightest achievers humanity ever produced.

But beneath the calculations, there is nothing. Nothing like the space-time continuum underlying Relativity.
All the physicists can do is teach you how to do all the wonderful calculations and predict how photons and electronics will behave - which is a miracle in itself.

But if you ask: "Why is it like that?". the answer is "We do not know". There is no meta-Theory which says yes Quantum Mechanics is embedded in some universal structure. It just is, basically sub-atomic accountancy for physicists, but super-brilliant accountancy at that.
Well , I want to know .
 

roc_

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all our evolutionary has been about observation, experimentation and conclusion...
That's not true. It has in reality been the merest "flash in the pan".

In the field of scientific methodology this methodology only really came to the fore around the seventeenth century.

Don't conflate methodology with "science" itself either.

"Science" is basically the systematic and disciplined effort to understand phenomena, beyond the range of the mental habits and factual knowledge of everyday life. And a Scientist is basically someone who undertakes the task of improving upon the existing stock of facts and methods and in the process of doing so, acquires a command of both, that differentiates them from the layman.

I agree though, without doubt, the empirical methodology has yielded untold fruits for science in the couple of hundred years it has been in the ascendancy.

But is it drying up? How much more service has it in it towards the further development of science?


Remember, physics is our most advanced science only because hundreds and hundreds of years of effort has gone into it, way over and above our other younger sciences, and sciences in which historically less effort was spent on. (Much of this effort occurred too in a previous age of science, for example the age of natural philosophy that preceded modern science, when scholastic methods were in the ascendancy).

But let's take one of our much, much younger sciences (in terms of historical man-years spent on it). - For example, economic science, which is basically a social science dealing with very large economic and social systems that are so complex as to be practically indescribable, and non-deterministic in that outcomes are probabilistic rather than definite.

And ask how do we "observe" experimentally in this science? Well the only limited way we have is looking back on historical events that have already occurred, and make our observations from today's vantage point. (And of course, being a social science, the role of the observer is critical, observations are always affected by the subjectivity of the observer.)

Economics is not the only area with questions that one can intuit the kinds of insights coming out of the highest levels of physics may help us. - For example climate systems also are so complex and so probabilistic that it does not seem reasonable to assume that they can be fully described. Even taking one single component of a simple "weather" system alone (as opposed to a much more complex 'climate' system) think of the movement within a single thunderhead. - Is that movement "repeatable" or "predictable", lending itself to this dominant empirical methodology? And that is not even to mention what we are seeing today as regards the interaction of public opinion, as subjective "observers" with respect to these climate questions that of course strongly affect them.

Think of it though. We live in an economic age the philosophical basis of which is basically that if we make the key assumption that the human being is merely a covetous machine, with avarice and the desire of progress as constant elements, we can build a wealth generating social-economic system. - The whole construction of the market and liberalism, laws of labour, purchase, and sale, and so on, is based on that one key assumption. Of course this is a subjective assumption that self perpetuates, self actualises, in the systems under consideration.

Why can't we strive for better than this? Because it is basically all we are capable of in this very young science. The old tools, methodologies, and habits of mind come hard up against their limits. - But in this regard no doubt modern economics is reaching out to the new fields such as statistical analysis, probability calculus, as well as economic sociology, economic history and a number of other "applied" fields.

I just think that using probability or simulations may be a cop out by people who have given up on trying to describe a situation by formulating equations which can be solved.
It depends on the question(s).
 

blinding

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In the past ( observation ) a choice has been made .

Without observation , is there a choice / past ?
 

roc_

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In the past ( observation ) a choice has been made .

Without observation , is there a choice / past ?
Well you inadvertently hit on the problem of populism there.

We learn from the past and that informs us as intelligent creatures as we head into an un-known future.

This capability to observe and learn from the past is the whole of intelligent existence.

But populism seeks to do away with this.

Rather it paints a heroic future, where the charismatic populist leader promises a great leap into this future.

However the populists must obscure, confuse the past and inhibit observation of it, to succeed.

Very topical.
 

blinding

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Well you inadvertently hit on the problem of populism there.

We learn from the past and that informs us as intelligent creatures as we head into an un-known future.

This capability to observe and learn from the past is the whole of intelligent existence.

But populism seeks to do away with this.

Rather it paints a heroic future, where the charismatic populist leader promises a great leap into this future.

However the populists must obscure, confuse the past and inhibit observation of it, to succeed.

Very topical.
Stick to the Quantum Mechanics .

Let the Electorate Vote in what they consider to be their best Interests .

A Politician generally if not always does what they consider to be in their best Interests . The Electorate must be allowed to do the same .
 

owedtojoy

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Well , I want to know .
You can no more know than know who is going to win the race before it is run.

Drop a pebble into a pool of water and it will penetrate the surface.
Drop 100 pebbles and 100% will penetrate the surface.

Throw a photon of light at the pool and there is a 2% chance it will reflect back at you.
Throw 100 photons and ~2 will reflect back at you.

Which photons will reflect? Can't tell in advance.
Why is the universe that way at the sub-atomic level? Can't answer that either.

But Quantum Mechanics with its weird accounting can correctly predict the 2% probability, and that is good enough to perform experiments, and invent new devices.
 

owedtojoy

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In the past ( observation ) a choice has been made .

Without observation , is there a choice / past ?
Schrodinger's Cat.

A cat is in a box with a radioactive nucleus which has a probability of emitting a particle. If the particle is emitted, it will trigger a device that releases a poison gas and kills the cat.

In Quantum Mechanics, the particle has a quantum function that has a superposition of two states - emitted and not-emitted. But if that is so, then the cat is alive in one state and dead in the other - at the same time!

The Copenhagen Interpretation is that the quantum function "collapses" into one of the states as soon as it is observed - so before you open the box, is the cat alive or dead?

The mind starts to boggle at that stage, I think the Copenhagenists say that triggering the device is equivalent to an observation as it is an interaction with the non-quantum world. Bot not all agree - like the Many Worlds Theorists in the OP.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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I'd imagine it would be difficult for us not to interact with the quantum world/s. From a layman's personal point of view we have to be in contact with it at all times when you consider quantum entanglement.

I read a beautiful speculative fiction novel by a very interesting Australian mathematician recently, 'Greg Egan' is the name he goes by. The novel is just gorgeous in its plotting and exploration of the area of human perception and ability to observe, and the time span involved in the novel is over hundreds of thousands of years.

He suggests that humans have advanced to such a stage that their minds have transcended the limitations of their bodies. AI has come and gone and the AIs are now a social tribe, in effect, cyborgs also constitute a part of this meta-human race. There is a glorious breakthrough for the heroes when they manage to find an escape route for their home planet from the mathematically predictable formula which tells some of them a star is about to go supernova relatively nearby and the planet's atmosphere would be stripped and everyone on the home plant more or less gamma-rayed to death.

It involves transcendence and a journey via mathematical shapes with no physical body to cause a drag. A discovery of 'otherspace' and layers of time so that the whole species can travel sideways, if you like, free of restraint and can soar through a limitless series of quantum-like spaces steered by manipulation of three, five, seven, 50 and increasing numbers of such spaces they find available.

It is fantastic and contains mini essays woven in on everything from philosophy to multi-dimensional mathematical spaces, cosmology, sociology, politics to a very appealing vision of a future should the current homo sapiens not wipe itself out in the near to middle future.

'Diaspora' by Greg Egan is the novel but it is mind-bendingly enjoyable on other dimensions and mathematics as a sophisticated tool to go beyond physics.
 


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