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Hummmm...we need Feynman again.

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#1 mountain monk

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 07:05 PM

https://www.nytimes....pgtype=Homepage

 

Dark skies.

 

Jack


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#2 TOMDEY

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 07:34 PM

Thanks, just read it.

 

The disconnect is not Quantum Mechanics itself, but our nebulous internalization of the meaning of the word ~understand~. Simply put, because QM defies our everyday macro-world experiences... we label it as spooky, mysterious, non-understandable. Just that, and nothing else.

 

I worked half my career in optics labs, doing interferometry and such. After a while, we no longer puzzled over the field simultaneously probing both (or more) arms of the interferometer... and the associated photons registering at discrete detectors comprising the camera array. The spookiness evaporated with pernicious exposure with the Quantum World, not any change in that world, but our level of immersion in it. The ocean no longer was mysterious, because we were... finally... swimming like ducks in the water. And had finally reached the point that we would be perplexed and startled... if the light did not explore both arms of the interferometer --- in which case we would declare it not understandable!

 

I have a feeling that Richard might agree!    Tom


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#3 chadrian84

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 09:13 PM

We need scientists who are humble and not afraid to say "QM is extremely mysterious and we don't know what do make of it."  Scientists who aren't strict proponents of "shutup and calculate."  Ones who aren't fixated on tenure, reputation, or job prospects.  Ones who approach the strangeness of QM with an open mind and a passion for someday finding a verifiable interpretation of it.  Ones who acknowledge consciousness could play a role in the measurement problem, but who stress there's no way yet to know whether it does.  Scientists not afraid to ask "why" and say "I don't know."

 

Feynman was great but didn't fit into a lot of those categories.


Edited by chadrian84, 07 September 2019 - 09:17 PM.


#4 DaveC2042

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 02:26 AM

I can't help feeling this is all a bit of a strawman.

  • Where are all these scientists claiming that we 'truly understand' QM?  I haven't encountered them.  The 'party line' as far as I can tell is a frank acknowledgement that we have a very successful model, but don't really understand what is actually going on at rock bottom;
  • The reason scientists focus on the model-building and calculation and testing of formulae is that there is plenty of worthwhile and productive stuff to do ironing out the details.
  • The reason scientists don't focus much on the 'what does it all really mean' stuff, is because no one has any real idea how to do it.  Attempts have come up with variants on Copenhagen and Many Worlds and no real way forward towards deciding which if any version is correct.  And too often, the difficulties mean the discussion degenerates into 'quantum mysticism' - Deepak Chopra handwaving nonsense.
  • That said, there actually is a level of ongoing scientific speculation, and there are people who do work on things like trying to observe a wave-function colllapse, or at least narrowing the window we can't see into.  It's not simply being ignored as an issue.  It's just getting the limited attention you'd expect after many decades of no real progress.

Also, at the risk of appearing cynical, I see he is selling a book.  And controversy is always a good sales technique for this kind of thing.


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#5 TOMDEY

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 03:13 AM

I can't help feeling this is all a bit of a strawman.

  • Where are all these scientists claiming that we 'truly understand' QM?  I haven't encountered them.  The 'party line' as far as I can tell is a frank acknowledgement that we have a very successful model, but don't really understand what is actually going on at rock bottom;
  • The reason scientists focus on the model-building and calculation and testing of formulae is that there is plenty of worthwhile and productive stuff to do ironing out the details.
  • The reason scientists don't focus much on the 'what does it all really mean' stuff, is because no one has any real idea how to do it.  Attempts have come up with variants on Copenhagen and Many Worlds and no real way forward towards deciding which if any version is correct.  And too often, the difficulties mean the discussion degenerates into 'quantum mysticism' - Deepak Chopra handwaving nonsense.
  • That said, there actually is a level of ongoing scientific speculation, and there are people who do work on things like trying to observe a wave-function colllapse, or at least narrowing the window we can't see into.  It's not simply being ignored as an issue.  It's just getting the limited attention you'd expect after many decades of no real progress.

Also, at the risk of appearing cynical, I see he is selling a book.  And controversy is always a good sales technique for this kind of thing.

Hi, Dave! Note that all four of your points can be just as correctly applied to:

 

>biology

>art

>history

>economics

>religion

>chemistry

>psychology

>philosophy (as reflexive self-referencing)

>weather

 

Those are things that we think we understand --- but don't, any more than we do quantum mechanics.

 

We simply consider familiar topics to be understandable, and unfamiliar ones... not!    Tom


Edited by TOMDEY, 08 September 2019 - 03:13 AM.


#6 Todd N

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 04:36 AM

Sean Carroll isn't doing anyone a favor by using the the typical QM analogy of "the observer effect" 'cause the laymen will take that literally. So, he seems in line with perpetuating elements of confusion.



#7 sg6

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 08:24 AM

They likely do understand QM, what will be "unattainable" is knowing it in the way we know the macro world.

Comes down to what "understand" means.

 

We are use to: (If A then B), that is simple, how about (If A then maybe B).

In QM you may be able to offer a probability of B but cannot say it is a certainty.

Well not unless the probability is non-zero and you integrate over all time in general. Even then entrophy may have a say in the outcome.

 

So if you understand there is not necessarily a definitive answer. You understand it.

 

Why can we not understand it - head off to work in your car, there is a probability that you will have an accident. It is not a certainty, it is not impossible. It might happen. QM is often the same.

 

Other things we are used to and will often be said: A times B = B times A, try that with 2 matricies, doesn't work. With those AxB is not equal to BxA.

 

Maybe they need a reporter/journalist who is less fixed in their understanding.

Wonder if the scientist said I cannot explain it to you. You wouldn't understand.

Reporter writes Scientists cannot understand QM.



#8 llanitedave

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 09:27 AM

Some people understand the math.  That's probably as close as we can get.



#9 ColoHank

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 09:52 AM

Some people understand the math.  That's probably as close as we can get.

I don't understand the math, and frankly Scarlett, I don't give a ****. smile.gif 



#10 TOMDEY

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 12:13 PM

Some people understand the math.  That's probably as close as we can get.

Ahhh.... yes. I wanted to understand (?!) math better, so went and got another grad degree... this one in math! And the strangest gestalt happened, about half way through my tortuous studies, when engaged in animated discussion with some faculty, in the lounge. >>> I suddenly realized that I was no longer painfully pulling forward with my finger nails, barely able to follow the speed and convoluted logic. Rather, I was flowing/tumbling forward, with the others... comfortable, and fully-engaged. Like the language student, who finally thinks and dreams in his Nth tongue. Or the music student who scans the score of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C Op things. 67 --- and hears it! At that point, I felt that I was (beginning to) understand math.

 

On the other + side... it sure made the physics a lot easier, even more understandable.    Tom



#11 mountain monk

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 03:17 PM

Tom,

 

I very much agree with your position here. My own experience concerns Godel's Proof. There are, of course, many expositions of it, some popular (Godel, Escher, Bach), some quite technical (the book by Ernest Nagel), but I did not "understand" the proof until I finished a 400-level math course that went through it in excruciating detail (half the class of 50 students dropped out)--one of those courses where you feel that the piano wires in your brain are about to snap. Yes, mathematics is it's own language, and to understand it's "objects" you must learn the language. And though there are, of course, experiments, QM is expressed in mathematics. To understand it, you must learn the language of QM.

 

A similar, more commonplace, issue is in the translation of, say, a Chinese poem. If you want to understand a Chinese poem, you must learn Chinese, usually ancient Chinese in Tang Dynasty dialect with no marked grammar. Not easy, that. Which is why I ended up with a book entitled Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang-wei. It consists of nineteen translations of one poem, all astoundingly different!, and all by different experts! What is the "real" meaning of the poem? Learn Chinese!

 

Nowadays, we want shortcuts, and in my humble opinion, they don't work.

 

Sounds to me like you have very interesting work.

 

Dark skies.

 

Jack


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#12 EJN

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 10:20 PM

Also, at the risk of appearing cynical, I see he is selling a book.  And controversy is always a good sales technique for this kind of thing.

 

The book is called Something Deeply Hidden and there is a good review here:

 

http://www.math.colu...dpress/?p=11128

 

Also see here for a comment on the NYT article (near the end):

 

http://www.math.colu...dpress/?p=11254

 

And if you feel really adventurous, you can read or download Peter Woit's book

Quantum Theory, Groups and Representations: An Introduction

 

http://www.math.colu...t/QM/qmbook.pdf

 

 

The thing about QM is it works. It makes very precise predictions which agree with experiment

to high degree of precision. The modern electronic revolution would not have been possible

without QM - transistors and other semiconductors exploit quantum phenomena.

 

In the 1950s a very detailed theory of semiconductors was developed, then the device was

actually built and functioned exactly as predicted.

 

 

In the early 1920s a German engineer built a transistor-like device by trial and error, and even

constructed a radio amplifier with it. But because neither he or anyone else had the slightest

idea of how it worked (QM didn't come along until 1925, and quantum field theory not until

after WWII), it was a stillborn invention. Everyone stuck with the tried-and-true vacuum tubes

because they were well understood in classical electrodynamics.

 

 

 

 

A times B = B times A, try that with 2 matricies, doesn't work. With those AxB is not equal to BxA.

 

In Lie algebra, A*B = -B*A, and Lie algebra is used in group theory, which is used in quantum field theory.


Edited by EJN, 10 September 2019 - 10:52 PM.

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#13 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 13 September 2019 - 02:42 AM

I heard Dr. Sean Carroll speak at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg on Wednesday night and was very impressed with what he had to say about quantum mechanics.

 

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  • Sean Carroll IMG_0930.jpg
  • Sean Carroll IMG_0967.jpg

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#14 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 14 September 2019 - 11:32 AM

There's another interesting review of Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime at https://www.nature.c...9ZbboyP6LLqL3w4




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