Thursday, June 23, 2016

Quantum Physics Tells Us What We Don’t (Yet) Know

The Search

“The first and last thing required of genius is the love of truth.”
Maxim 382; “Maxims and Reflections” (1833)


Quantum Equations: At the heart of theoretical physics is math, beautiful and elegant equations that act as gateways to worlds that contain rules that seem different than ours. There is no lack of strangeness in the quantum world, where mathematicians, theoretical physicists (and poets) find a home. On this note Philip Ball writes for The Atlantic about such a finding from 80 years ago: “But in 1935, Einstein and two younger colleagues unwittingly stumbled upon what looks like the strangest quantum property of all, by showing that, according to quantum mechanics, two particles can be placed in a state in which making an observation on one of them immediately affects the state of the other—even if they’re allowed to travel light years apart before measuring one of them. Two such particles are said to be entangled, and this apparent instantaneous “action at a distance” is an example of quantum nonlocality.”
Photo Credit: Boscorelli; Shuttlestock
Source: The Atlantic

After reading another article, the latest by Philip Ball in The Atlantic, on the strange world of quantum physics, I come away with the idea that man’s knowledge of the universe is much less than his ability to make complete sense of it. We truly only get a glimpse. Perhaps, it will always be this way, that our reach will be greater than our grasp. It is not that man should forego the search—by all means, he should continue—and yet, there is the uncomfortable sense that what is required for humanity is less hubris and more humility.

In “How Quantum Mechanics Can Even Be Weirder (June 22, 2016),” Ball writes:
What’s more, over the past several decades we’ve come to understand that the classical and quantum worlds don’t exactly operate by “different” rules. Rather, the classical world emerges from the quantum in a comprehensible way: you might say that classical physics is simply what quantum physics looks like at the human scale.
All the same, we’re confronted with the question: why is the quantum world the way it is? Why do fundamental particles dictate this set of rules and not some other? Normally that question carries an implication that quantum particles are being a bit perverse by not behaving like billiard balls, reassuringly solid and definite and thing-like. But that might be the wrong way to think about it. Last December, I spoke with Romanian-British physicist Sandu Popescu of Bristol University in England, who told me that things could have been even stranger than quantum.
In fact, Sandu said, we’re not even completely sure that things aren’t even stranger. Maybe we just haven’t detected this extra strangeness yet.
For most people, this strangeness matters not, never giving it a thought. You don’t have the know the fundamental laws of the universe in order to go to school, go to work, raise children, play sports, have fun, etc. Yet, the idea that we have only seen the tip of the iceberg as regards the quantum world, does say a lot about what we do know. It also tells us about what we don’t know. Nature does not easily give up its secrets, even though such are often found when the right conditions are present; love of truth and expressions of gratitude of finding it always help the search.

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For more, go to [TheAtlantic]