Stop Using Quantum Mechanics as Evidence for Magic
Esther Inglis-Arkell

Quantum mechanics is a beautiful and still-controversial idea. It is rightly popular. What’s not right is the way people use it to justify any reality-bending idea in their novels, their TV shows, or their personal philosophies. “Quantum” does not mean anything you want.

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This, one hundred times over.
The funny thing is, my interest in science deepened thanks to the New Age Quantum Woo, by first slogging through it and wanting to believe — because it offered some form of hope. But I had asked questions: why does that work? How? Is that quite right? Is it 100% true? And I found that it didn’t hold. However “positive” their “intentions” may be, it’s still “snake oil”.

Stop Using Quantum Mechanics as Evidence for Magic

Esther Inglis-Arkell

Quantum mechanics is a beautiful and still-controversial idea. It is rightly popular. What’s not right is the way people use it to justify any reality-bending idea in their novels, their TV shows, or their personal philosophies. “Quantum” does not mean anything you want.

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This, one hundred times over.

The funny thing is, my interest in science deepened thanks to the New Age Quantum Woo, by first slogging through it and wanting to believe — because it offered some form of hope. But I had asked questions: why does that work? How? Is that quite right? Is it 100% true? And I found that it didn’t hold. However “positive” their “intentions” may be, it’s still “snake oil”.

somewhatclever-er

somewhatclever-er:

Brain-melting:
http://ift.tt/1xgn9vK

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“‘If you put three pigeons in two pigeonholes, at least two of the pigeons end up in the same hole.’ … [However, the team] found instances when three quantum particles [were] put in two boxes, ‘yet no two particles [shared] the same box.’

In conclusion, … the authors [have] ‘presented a new quantum effect that requires us to revisit some of the most basic notions of quantum physics—the notions of separability, of correlations and of interactions.’”

subatomicuniverse
humanoidhistory:

Albert Einstein in Princeton, New Jersey, 1947, photo by Philippe Halsman, Magnum.

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I don’t recall the source now, but I read or heard somewhere (and I agree) that it’s funny we always show and see pictures of Einstein as an old man, and associate those images with the brilliant mind that was. But it was in his younger, less frizzy-haired years that he conceived of his famed ideas about Relativity. As he aged, the science he helped plant grew into something immensely strange and unrecognizable to him (Quantum Mechanics), which he resisted vehemently.

humanoidhistory:

Albert Einstein in Princeton, New Jersey, 1947, photo by Philippe Halsman, Magnum.

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I don’t recall the source now, but I read or heard somewhere (and I agree) that it’s funny we always show and see pictures of Einstein as an old man, and associate those images with the brilliant mind that was. But it was in his younger, less frizzy-haired years that he conceived of his famed ideas about Relativity. As he aged, the science he helped plant grew into something immensely strange and unrecognizable to him (Quantum Mechanics), which he resisted vehemently.

The Amplituhedron is the “jewel”-like, theoretical geometric structure (actually a mathematical tool) that’s been making the rounds in science news. The summary linked above appears fairly solid and unbiased, so far as I can tell.

Philip Gibbs

so far it is only applicable to the planar limit of one specific quantum field theory and it is not one encountered in nature. It is therefore very premature to say that this makes conventional quantum field theory obsolete.

On its own the theory is very interesting but of limited use. The real excitement is in the idea that it extends in some way to theories which could be physical.

Part of the story of the amplituhedron is the idea that space, time, locality and unitarity are emergent. This is exciting because people have always speculated that some of these things may be emergent in theories of quantum gravity. In my opinion it is too strong to call this emergence. Emergence of space-time implies that space and time are approximate and there are places such as a black hole singularity where they cease to be a smooth manifold. The amplituhedron does not give you this.

They will have to find a way to go beyond the planar limit, generalise to higher dimensions, include gravity and identify the relevant symmetries for string theory. Then there is just the little issue of relating the result to reality. It could be a long road.

via Quanta MagazineBy: Natalie Wolchover    September 17, 2013Illustration by Andy Gilmore

Physicists have discovered a jewel-like geometric object that dramatically simplifies calculations of particle interactions and challenges the notion that space and time are fundamental components of reality.
“This is completely new and very much simpler than anything that has been done before,” said Andrew Hodges, a mathematical physicist at Oxford University …The revelation that particle interactions, the most basic events in nature, may be consequences of geometry significantly advances a decades-long effort to reformulate quantum field theory, the body of laws describing elementary particles and their interactions.
…

THIS IS (POSSIBLY) EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.
TL;DR: An idea that might help unify nearly a century of knowledge. A clue as to what may comprise everything in the universe as-known-to-date. HUGE. Read. Share.

via Quanta Magazine
By: Natalie Wolchover   
September 17, 2013
Illustration by Andy Gilmore

Physicists have discovered a jewel-like geometric object that dramatically simplifies calculations of particle interactions and challenges the notion that space and time are fundamental components of reality.

“This is completely new and very much simpler than anything that has been done before,” said Andrew Hodges, a mathematical physicist at Oxford University …

The revelation that particle interactions, the most basic events in nature, may be consequences of geometry significantly advances a decades-long effort to reformulate quantum field theory, the body of laws describing elementary particles and their interactions.


THIS IS (POSSIBLY) EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.

TL;DR: An idea that might help unify nearly a century of knowledge. A clue as to what may comprise everything in the universe as-known-to-date. HUGE. Read. Share.

katisque

dazegetbrighter:

what if rocks are actually soft but just tense up when we touch them?

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I haven’t looked at my dash in a while; I love that this was at the top upon logging in.

It may just be somebody’s “silly” question, and yet it reminds me so much of the questions central to quantum physics — important questions about the most basic elements (that we know of to date) that constitute our being.

Wonderful.

wildcat2030

wildcat2030:

See on Scoop.it - Philosophy everywhere everywhen

Even some of the more faithful might have wondered over the last few days whether there truly is a God.

Famed physicist Stephen Hawking would like to help. Let’s imagine there isn’t, seems to be his preference.

Indeed, in a speech at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., on Tuesday night, he made jokes about God’s supposed power and omnipresence.

“What was God doing before the divine creation? Was he preparing hell for people who asked such questions?” asked Hawking, clearly not afraid of meeting a reddish man with a fork and a tail.

Being a scientist, Hawking has faith only in scientific explanations.

As NBC News reports, he discounted a repeating Big Bang Theory (even though he’s appeared on the show).

Instead, he thinks: “We are the product of quantum fluctuations in the very early universe.”

I certainly feel like the product of quantum fluctuations on many days of the week, don’t you?

Interesting!

Questions:

  • Is it a big deal? If vacuum is not true emptiness but “filled with continuously appearing and disappearing particle pairs such as electron-positron or quark-antiquark pairs” then doesn’t it make sense that the SOL would fluctuate when traveling through a space/substance that, itself, fluctuates? Like through water vs air? Do I misunderstand?
  • Are the fluctuations large enough to matter (to us, at our scale)?
fivekeys

fivekeys:

olena:

Dmitry Itskov thinks we can have inhabitable avatars for our minds by 2045.

I’m not convinced.

I agree.

The philosopher David Chalmers argues that there is an “explanatory gap” between the physical and the mental. It is not clear how our best theories of how the physical universe operates (the standard model of quantum particle physics and general relativity) would generate subjective experience. Chalmers calls this “the hard problem of consciousness.”

All interesting stuff. More on Wikipedia of course…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Chalmers#Work

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_problem_of_consciousness

P.S.

Although I’m happy that many people like { this quote }, I want to emphasize that it does not mean making science into a free-for-all where anyone who’s read a little Brian Greene should feel like s/he can add to the conversation in a meaningful way.

Worse yet, the people I see at *every* science convention who take the mic when it’s question time, only to proclaim that the presenter is wrong, then something about God, and that their particular kook theory is overlooked and definitely the answer to the Universe.

I’ve had people like this (mostly old men) talk to me condescendingly despite not having read or studied even half of what I have in my tiny life (and I know damned well that I know next to nothing, thus continue to learn) — their only sources being some New Age material that supports their personal outlook, or some popular science they’ve read, of the “quantum mechanics is magical voodoo and we know nothing about it!” variety.

Please understand that the above are entirely different from “outsider intelligence”. Credentials do mean something — those who have them have usually spent their entire lives on a subject. Consider that before chiming in.

[Credentials] can cause intellectual ossification.

To illustrate that point, Mead told the story of how Charles Townes, the inventor of the laser and maser, took his ideas to the leading quantum-mechanics nabobs at the time, Neils Bohr and Werner Heisenberg:

"They both laughed at him, and basically said, ‘Sonny, you just don’t seem to understand how quantum mechanics works.’ Well, history has shown that it wasn’t Charlie who didn’t know how quantum mechanics works, it was the pontifical experts in the field who didn’t know how it worked."

Carver Mead on { The Future of Science }

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I love this story. It’s about { outsider intelligence } — the idea that contributors from outside of a specialized field can help solve problems within or related to that field, and at times even better than those within the field can. Of course, one has a greater perspective and range of thought when looking from the outside in, rather than being on the inside and having already discarded many ideas that are not immediately relevant to one’s work. Those impertinent ideas help us think creatively — help push us out of the “ditch” (read: Edward de Bono).

{ P.S. }

wildcat2030
Either way, it would mean that the Universe is fundamentally nonlocal, in the sense that every bit of the Universe can be connected to any other bit anywhere, instantly. That such connections are possible defies our everyday intuition and represents another extreme solution, but arguably preferable to faster-than-light communication. “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them.”
— Researchers look beyond space and time to cope with quantum theory, Physorg, Oct 28, 2012

http://amiquote.tumblr.com (via parkstepp)

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OS:

Fascinating. I wish I could take part in that conversation in some real way.

fuckyeahquantummechanics
Quantum Physics makes the seemingly preposterous claim that there is no “is” until an observer makes an observation.

Jeffrey M. Schwartz, M.D. (via schlahty)

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Yes. But what’s left out is that an “observer” is not necessarily a conscious being, like a human. Nature is able to observe itself, through interactions between systems that record one another.

fuckyeahquantummechanics
kvetchlandia:

Uncredited PhotographerTheoretical Physicists Murray Gell-Mann and Richard Feynman1959
“…will you understand what I’m going to tell you? …No, you’re not going to be able to understand it. …I don’t understand it. Nobody does…. The scale of light can be described by numbers—called the frequency—and as the numbers get higher, the light goes from red to blue to ultraviolet. We can’t see ultraviolet light, but it can affect photographic plates. It’s still light… Light is something like raindrops—each little lump of light is called a photon—and if the light is all one color, all the ‘raindrops’ are the same color… Every instrument that has been designed to be sensitive enough to detect weak light has always ended up discovering that the same thing: light is made of particles…” Richard Feynman, “QED : The Strange Theory of Light and Matter” 1985
“Just because things get a little dingy at the subatomic level doesn’t mean all bets are off.” Murray Gell-Mann

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These two are my favorite. 
Gell-Mann’s { The Quark and the Jaguar } is possibly the best, most clarifying book I’ve read, about quantum physics (and systems, to date).
My outline of { Notes } and { Questions } from that title.
Feynman was one of the first to truly open my eyes to the incredible nature of this world, via { The Meaning of it All }. 
A { Quantum Chess } set inspired by Feynman’s { analogy } for understanding Nature’s laws.

kvetchlandia:

Uncredited Photographer
Theoretical Physicists Murray Gell-Mann and Richard Feynman
1959

“…will you understand what I’m going to tell you? …No, you’re not going to be able to understand it. …I don’t understand it. Nobody does…. The scale of light can be described by numbers—called the frequency—and as the numbers get higher, the light goes from red to blue to ultraviolet. We can’t see ultraviolet light, but it can affect photographic plates. It’s still light… Light is something like raindrops—each little lump of light is called a photon—and if the light is all one color, all the ‘raindrops’ are the same color… Every instrument that has been designed to be sensitive enough to detect weak light has always ended up discovering that the same thing: light is made of particles…” Richard Feynman, “QED : The Strange Theory of Light and Matter” 1985

“Just because things get a little dingy at the subatomic level doesn’t mean all bets are off.” Murray Gell-Mann

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These two are my favorite.

Gell-Mann’s { The Quark and the Jaguar } is possibly the best, most clarifying book I’ve read, about quantum physics (and systems, to date).

Feynman was one of the first to truly open my eyes to the incredible nature of this world, via { The Meaning of it All }.