Grokking the Essence of Quantum Mechanics

» Quantum Mechanics. (Sometimes called » Quantum physics.) Relativity, both theories (.. Special & General). I had lots of Physics in school .. UP TO (.. they told me) but not including Quantum Mechanics.

Visual indication of the Quantum Leap And since I dont need to know this stuff now, I feel no academic pressure. So my curiosity comes far more casually.

Sometimes at night, in order to relax, I set my laptop on a portable, folding table beside my bed and go to the Nova web site (part of PBS) ..

.. where I drift off into techno-Nirvana .. while streaming one of their VIDEOS.

The Nova videos are posted » HERE. I particularly enjoy their PHYSICS section.

Their web site can be tricky to navigate .. cuz the part that lists the features is different from the part where the videos are stored, and it is not intuitively obvious how you get back and forth. [ Maybe they do this so you'll be more likely to purchase the video. ]

The program I like the best is the only one there listed under "Multi-Episode Programs," titled » Fabric of the Cosmos .. hosted by Brian Greene. This feature is divided into four 50-minute segments, each titled:

  1. Universe or Multiverse
  2. Quantum Leap (my 2nd favorite)
  3. The Illusion of Time (my favorite)
  4. What is Space?

These aired in November, and I've been checking them out periodically as time permits. Lots of food for thought there. I find myself frequently hitting the pause button in order to ponder the mind-blowing ideas and their implications.

Anyway, last night, I finally "got it" .. Quantum Mechanics (.. as opposed to "Classical Mechanics" ala Newton, or Newtonian physics).

I mean, it was as if a light bulb came on. Quick as you snapped your fingers. Continuous vs discrete. Back in 1905, Einstein talked about the wave/particle duality of light. Wave = continuous. Particle = discrete.

So startling was this effect .. that it reminded me of the post, titled » Grok'ing the Ah-Ha Moment.

Why / How Do These Startling Insights Come?

Like an epiphany, a revelation, suddenly everything quantum made sense .. on a much deeper level. Very cool. And I was even a little drowsy at the time (.. before the insight came).

But it's not like I hadnt watched that video before. I mean, I had already been exposed to the material .. and I understood it .. on a certain level .. a more rudimentary level .. but not anywhere near the clarity of insight I have now. Weird.

••• today's entry continues here below •••

So why this sudden insight? This is actually more interesting than grokking the quantum leap itself, which I have certainly known about for many years.

Jillian Boardman kissing Valentine Michael Smith in Robert Heinlen's SciFi novel Stranger in a Strange LandMaybe it's the IMPLICATIONS that I now "get". The non-continuous implications. Because this insight carries with it implications beyond mere physics .. into » reality .. and our perception of it ..

.. which reminds me of some ideas/concepts I posted in this entry here, titled » Nietzsche, Insanity, Uncertainty & Intuition (.. which many of you have written to say you enjoyed).

Anyway, I dont have time right now to elaborate on all my thoughts regarding how quantum mechanics relates and applies to reality, and our perception of it .. BUT ..

.. the FIRST thing that came to mind .. is that quantum mechanics is/are similar to DIGITAL technology .. in that .. when you go down to the smallest/lowest level .. it's either one thing or the other .. and nowhere in between.

Another idea .. is that these concepts were pursued in order to find CERTAINTY .. and what they discovered instead was the exact opposite .. by establishing (proving) that the certainty we seek .. not only does it NOT EXIST .. but that it NEVER WILL.

At the bottom/root of quantum mechanics lie » PROBABILITIES (.. not certainty). Einstein did not like quantum physics, famously quipping, "God does not play dice with the universe." But it seems He does.

Quantum Mechanics is a huge topic, as is Relativity .. so I will first try to find some understanding into to the "insight" thing. If I could control it, you know I'd be flicking on the insight/epiphany switch all the time. But it doesnt work that way, unfortunately.

The closest thing I can compare it to .. is when you're working on a puzzle, for a long time, and you add that one small piece .. that let's you "see" the whole picture. The puzzle gets a whole lot easier at that point.

Not really sure where this will go, but it promises to be interesting. A quote from the video to establish relevance (.. for you & me):

"Quantum mechanics rules over every atom and tiny particle, in every piece of matter, in stars and planets, in rocks and buildings, and in you and me .. so it must be the case that quantum mechanics are not just telling us about small things. They're telling us about » reality."

Einstein explained relativity this way » "An hour spent sitting with a pretty girl seems like a minute, while a minute spent sitting on a hot stove seems like an hour." =) ■

For more along these lines, here's a Google search preconfigured for the query » quantum mechanics, and another for » brian greene fabric cosmos, and one more for » nova videos

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This page contains a single entry by Rad published on February 22, 2012 2:22 AM.

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