Skip to comments.Quantum Trickery: Testing Einstein's Strangest Theory
Posted on 12/28/2005 1:42:38 PM PST by snarks_when_bored
Einstein said there would be days like this.
This fall scientists announced that they had put a half dozen beryllium atoms into a "cat state."
No, they were not sprawled along a sunny windowsill. To a physicist, a "cat state" is the condition of being two diametrically opposed conditions at once, like black and white, up and down, or dead and alive.
These atoms were each spinning clockwise and counterclockwise at the same time. Moreover, like miniature Rockettes they were all doing whatever it was they were doing together, in perfect synchrony. Should one of them realize, like the cartoon character who runs off a cliff and doesn't fall until he looks down, that it is in a metaphysically untenable situation and decide to spin only one way, the rest would instantly fall in line, whether they were across a test tube or across the galaxy.
The idea that measuring the properties of one particle could instantaneously change the properties of another one (or a whole bunch) far away is strange to say the least - almost as strange as the notion of particles spinning in two directions at once. The team that pulled off the beryllium feat, led by Dietrich Leibfried at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, in Boulder, Colo., hailed it as another step toward computers that would use quantum magic to perform calculations.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Seriously now, we don't actually HAVE unobserved cats, do we? They might like us to think so but a cat in a box is going to be measurable every time. They, and everything else macro, just don't go all at once into that unmeasured, unobserved state.
Only that little divine spark meets the radioactive atom at the OK Corral. The rest of the cat gives us the score later, no? The rest of the cat doesn't really change; in fact it stops changing, if it comes up dead.
Well if S. did have a cat I hope he called it Plato. ;)
Most of these guys are just capitalizing on the inability of the public (and more importantly, the guys who fund this research) to understand what they are doing, and what it proves or doesn't prove. They do an experiment, make grandiose claims, and no one challenges their conclusions. Since it's all academic anyway at this point, no one has any incentive to challenge it.
I'll agree that there is a mystery, but it's largely a mystery that they all have a financial and academic interest in perpetuating, and that raises the question of whether they've created the mystery themselves. They seem to focus on Einstein's 60 year old discussion of this topic. They debunk his logic experimentally, and then conclude that they are therefore correct in their logic. It just doesn't follow.
Of course, the reason why they focus on Einstein's logic is that none of them has the cajones to take up where Einstein left off, and make the case against "quantum weirdness." In order to do that, you've got to have a competing theory, and these guys tend to be focused on experimental physics rather than theoretical physics.
Nothing much is going to happen to advance the field of quantum physics, I don't think, until some brilliant theoretical physicist is able to come to a theory that explains what matter is. Right now, they don't even know what "spin" is, so how on earth can they make these sweeping claims about a "cat state" without even knowing what it means?
>>Kinda reminds me of trying to keep one's right leg spinning in a clockwise direction while drawing the number six in the air with one's right hand.
"Jellybeaners, jellybeaners, jellybeaners one and all..."
(Boomer reference: song we sang while simultaneously patting head and rubbing tummy.)
The 'cat state' is an unobserved state (if such there be). Once you peek in on the cat, the superposition of states collapses to a single state (so it is said)...unless you hold that each state in a superposition is just as 'real' as any other and that, at each observation, a system splits into separate, equally 'real' systems that continue to develop in complete separation from each other. This bewildering, branching view of 'reality' is called 'the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics' and is the preferred view of 'reality' of many quantum physicists.
Umm...do you know much about academia?
These guys have their conclusions challenged, often vociferously and viciously, by other scientists in the field, on a routine basis.
But the Earth is not rotating in an isolated position. When an external body is included, the rotation is only one way.
Yes but can an entire cat ever be in the cat state? I'm reminded of the difference between ordinary, incoherent light, and laser light. There's too much cat, made up of atoms all on different pages, so to speak, for the aggregate (cat) to be in a cat state.
Zeno would have loved this stuff.
By the way, does the cat's observation count for anything?
In my reality an empty box placed in a room with a live cat will soon have a live cat in it.
I doubt you'll find anyone who seriously argues Einstein's point in this day and age. Even when Einstein was alive, there were only two other physicists who seriously challenged the quantum mechanics theory, and they quickly dissolved into the ether, leaving Einstein's writings as the only real dissent from quantum mechanics.
At this point, quantum mechanics is considered to be gospel, which is ironic. And it's especially perplexing when one considers that it is inconsisent with relativity, which is also considered to be gospel. And even more perplexing when you consider that quantum mechanics has no explanation for the existence of gravity, yet clearly gravity exists.
Another big WOW!
I love quantum mechanics but then again, I never did believe in a classical reality. >>>>>>>>>>>>
Is reality really the "one illusion we all share"?
I prefer to think of it as more like the evil Mr. Spock on an alternate USS Enterprise in an alternate universe.
There is a universe somewhere where the mainstream media is honest, Saddam was the benevolent ruler of a peaceful country, Bush is an evil moron, and the Democrats aren't all stupid liars. And you thought that the dead/undead cat was weird? Just think of how weird this place would feel to us!
The real trouble with time travel isn't becoming your own grandfather-that's nothing a broad minded and well adjusted family can't handle. No, the real problem is with tenses. How do you describe something that happened, but didn't happen anymore because you went back to two days before that event to prevent it from happening?
- Douglas Adams (RIP)
Is reality really the "one illusion we all share"?
Yes but can an entire cat ever be in the cat state?
You've placed your paw on the problem. Recent work suggests that above a certain level of molecular complexity, decoherence is unavoidable, and decoherence smears out the 'cat state' superpositions.
"When a distinguished and elderly scientist tells you that something is possible, he is almost certainly right.
When a distinguished and elderly scientist tells you that something is impossible, he is almost certainly wrong."
-- Arthur C. Clark
Clark was much more than a science fiction writer.
He was a philosopher of science.
Who is this "we" to whom you refer?
Right, I should have responded to post 19, which initially mentioned faster than light, not yours.