Implementing technological developments

10. Quantum Theory

Let's go back for a quick review, first.

Newtonian physics (classical mechanics) accounts for the movements of macroscopic stuff (planets, objects, chemicals, atomic particles). Etc. Mass, force, momentum, velocity, speed, acceleration, "gravity," etc.

However, Newtonian physics left both observational and measurement trouble (didn't account for lots of phenomena that was increasingly discovered as scientific technologies improved).

Einstein (Grossman, Hilbert, Lorentz) modified Newtonian physics in numerous crucial ways. We will look at the two most prominent changes: Theory of Special Relativity and the Theory of General Relativity.

  • theory of special relativity--space and time are related such that mechnical physics depends on relative motion, which means that measurements (and phenomena) vary depending on the relative speeds of the observers/observed).
    • this, in essence, overturns the "fixed-ness" and "certainty" of "normal scientific practices" based on Newtonian physics.

  • theory of general relativity
    • explains gravity by describing the nature of space and time as curvitures produced in the space/time continuum. Again, sets aside Newtonian concepts of gravity (and of the nature of space and time)

  • Quantum Physics was suggested by Einstein, among others, but he did not believe in it. He spent the later part of his life trying to find a unified theory that would disprove the anomolies presented by Quantum mechanics (especially the ways that Quantum Theories contradict the Relativity Theories and the ways that Quantum Theories are somewhat beyond our understanding (although, somewhat less so in the last 20 years given the rise of computational technologies & space exploration, and particle colliders).
  • Early developers include Bohr, Planck, Schrodinger, Dirac, Heisenberg, Born. Later Bohm, Everett, Wheeler, and Bell.
  • Quantum physics appears to be in charge in the universe of the small (subatomic particles don't follow the Newtonian rules). Problem is, we don't know the rules of the relationships between subatomic rules and macro-atomic rules. Some important quantum principles:
    • wave-particle duality: matter (including light) is either a wave or a particle, alternately both, and both at the same time.
      • Another possibility is that each particle "travels along" on a "pilot wave."
      • quantum interference: an elementary particle can be in more than one place at a time AND can cross its own path and interfere with it's own trajectory.
    • What happens when matter "becomes" either a wave or a particle, or moves between both states, or assumes the character of both/either?
      • One prominent proposal is the "Multiple Universe" hypothesis.
        • This notion suggests that matter doesn't actually "choose" a state. Rather, it is what it is but the observer, and the "reality" the observer is in, sees/gets one (but not the other).
        • However, "the other" state also exists, in a "reality fork," a different universe. This hypothesis proposes the existance of a virtually infinite number of enfolded (yet separated) universes constituted by every choice (from subatomic to physical/corporal to consciousness) ever made.
        • Yes: an infinite number of YOUs in a zillion alternate universes living out the results of all of the choices (conscious and unconscious) you've ever been involved with.
      • The latest hypothesis is known as Quantum Field Theory.
        • Bain and others propose that reality is made of various types of energy waves and that what we preceive (or measure) as "particles" are energy quanta—essentially—"going off" at a particular time.
        • No such thing as "space" as we normally think of it; only an infinitely large number of potential energy collisions that then "make up" the matter that we see. Essentially, everything connected to everything, in one way or the other.
      • uncertainty principle: one can't accurately measure both motion and location at the same time.
        • it's possible that uncertainty can be reduced if/when one considers the "context" of the entire system for the measurement
        • however, it's also possible that the only context that works properly to fix uncertainty is—well—information provided by the entire universe
      • superimposition: quantum states can be 0 or 1 or 0 and 1 at the same time.
      • entanglement: elementary particles, separated, can take on the same properties without communication between them
        • Entanglement
        • entangled particles are non-local such that the entangled changes we observe may violate fundamental properties of Relativity Theory (like the speed of light).
      • indeterminacy and decoherence: looking changes the phenomena; esp. measuring quantum superimpositions as direct observation of them breaks them down.
        • there's not agreement as to what collapses the superimposition.
          • the measurement?
          • the looking?
          • the observer's presence?
          • the observer's intent/the point of the measurement (what one's looking for)
          • It's also possible that all quantum superimpositions collapse, unpredicatably, but that there are so many subatomic superimpositions within larger bodies that when collapses occur, the other superimpositions support the general sense of stabilty.
    • Eventually, adherence to the "Big Bang Theory" (the the universe started very small yet dynamic, then exploded to expansion (and is still expanding) required moving from Newtonian physics and Einstein's Relativity toward Quantum explanations.
      • That is, perhaps Quantum mechanics are not confined only to issues of the small.
    • From the view of computational communication systems, quantum mechanics appears to be strongly related to information/systems theory and chaos theory as ways to
      • explain some of what is going on in the development of complex computational communication systems
      • develop new approaches to computing that don't follow the rules of Newtonian physics.

 

Concept Integration Note article:

"For a Split Second, a (Simulated) Particle Went Backward in Time"
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/08/science/quantum-physics-time.html

Want to learn more?

  • Adam Becker. What is Real? The Unified Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics. Basic Books, 2018.
    Learn more about quantum and especially about string theory (and multiple universes) via books by Brian Greene <http://www.briangreene.org/> The Elegant Universe; Fabric of the Cosmos; The Hidden Reality
  • Others note that String Theory just isn't working out.
  • George Musser, Spooky Action at a Distance: The Phenomenon That Reimagines Space and Time--and What It Means for Black Holes, the Big Bang, and Theories of Everything. Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015.