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Physicists bid farewell to reality?

A recent article in Nature begins:

There's only one way to describe the experiment performed by physicist Anton Zeilinger and his colleagues: it's unreal, dude.

Measuring the quantum properties of pairs of light particles (photons) pumped out by a laser has convinced Zeilinger that "we have to give up the idea of realism to a far greater extent than most physicists believe today."

By realism, he means the idea that objects have specific features and properties —that a ball is red, that a book contains the works of Shakespeare, or that an electron has a particular spin.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perception, Nonsense, Flaws and Human Beings:

As like most articles and books on Quantum Mechanics (QM) it's difficult to really know what the heck the physicists are actually talking about because it makes no sense. Human language is likely the fault here. Mathematics may enable someone to comprehend with some ability to connect to what they are saying. For me it's all incomprehensible drivel and the ravings of a mad man, err, mad men who propose it.

Another problem with this sort of article on QM is how those of us predisposed to non-reality connected beliefs such as belief or faith in God(s), ghosts, magic, superstitions, and all other silliness of the belief-stricken tend to interpret such articles. A good example is the very silly and goofy "new-age" nonsense of the film "What the Bleep do we know" which twists the ideas of QM till it's just funny yet a truly sad comment on humans and how "well" (in a sarcastic sense) equipped we are too deal with the "real reality" (or as the author of that article might prefer, the "real unreality").

Anyway there is a distinction between what is real verses what is fantasy and how what is real is somehow connected with the "real reality" and what is fantasy is simply connected to a thought in your brain - the difference between these two distinguished notions is crucial in that what is real has a connection to the universe, and while the "thoughts" of fantasy (e.g. God) you have might be real the actual universe simply doesn't care about it and goes on about it's godless accidental meandering way.

The reality we perceive is just that, the reality we perceive. The properties of a ball, such as "round", "bouncy" or "red" are real in perception. Perception is a different realty than QM for sure. The QM universe is the universe we live in (from what we can tell). However, it's a big stretch to think that "red bouncy balls" don't bounce on a "hard" flat surface oriented perpendicular to the N dimensional curvature of gravity of the Earth.

Too many of the QM explanations allow for leprechauns to pop into existence one moment and then, after taking your wallet with $200 leave you with the $100 of gold you asked for as they pop away into non-existence. (By the way, that's a rule of leprechauns, always make a profit.)

Anyway the QM rules which operate at the levels "below" the resolution of our human senses won't allow a car to instantly appear or disappear. They won't stop you from counting the cars in the parking lot and sorting them into categories such as how many of each color there are (in your perception). So please stop the silliness with the metaphors which the "believers" take and run off with to promote their view of the universe as populated and created by "super natural" beings.

The take home point is please stop the metaphors attempting to explain what goes on in the submicroscopic quantum universe with what happens in our perception of the universe we can see with our low resolution animal-meaty-organic-based senses (and crude scientific instruments).

Cheers and may your day involve no quantum trips across the universe instantly which undoubtedly would rip your molecules asunder and fracture your cells into a bloody and gooey mess. Take the slow sensical Newtonian route and be whole. Also avoid opening and reading books for you never know what your future self will have put there for you to read as you open it.