Monday, May 24, 2010

Quantum Mechanics for skeptics

I've made a PowerPoint presentation called "Quantum Mechanics for the skeptic: How to recognize quantum nonsense without being a physicist".  The title pretty much explains the target audience and purpose.

The presentation features appearances by: Professor Farnsworth, Professor X, the Great A’Tuin, Richard Feynman, and Deepak Chopra.

A lot of the source material for the presentation comes from my review of What the Bleep!?


Anonymous said...

So how is it that some scientists say that the laws of physics are what they are and the universal constants within the laws of physics are what they are because if they were only a tiny bit different, then life could not exist within the universe?
There seems to be two interpretations here, too. One answer is that there are many other universes that are lifeless, and of course we are in the rare exception, because if we weren't, we wouldn't be here to speculate about it. The other explanation that I have read about is that for some mysterious reason that I don't follow, the universe could not be created with physical laws following the big bang if there were not conscious life that would eventually develop within it. I know this is not quantum mechanics, but I am asking for comments from Skeptic's Play or its readers.

miller said...

I will not venture an opinion on the subject here, because I want to clearly draw a line between my more authoritative statements about physics and my more speculative statements about philosophy.

However, if you are interested in reading about the subject, the keyword is "anthropic principle".

DarkSapiens said...

I was just going to post this in Twitter for other skeptics to know about it, but I think there may be a little error in slide 6. It says "repeated measurements of the same particle will give the same results", to say the wavefunction changed. Maybe there's a "not" missing?

And for the Anonymous, I'd recommend this post:
There was a discussion about these things in this very blog :)


miller said...

No, the slide is correct, though it could benefit from additional explanation.

Let's say that we're measuring the position of a particle. The particle has been prepared in such a way that it has a spread out wavefunction. That is to say, if we prepare many particles in the exact same way, they'll each appear in different positions. However, given any single particle, after the first measurement, all measurements are the same. The interpretation is that after the first measurement, the wavefunction changes so that it is no longer spread out.

DarkSapiens said...

Ah, damn, it's true, what the wavelength says is that it could be in different parts with different probability, if you measure the same it means it collapsed.

So twitter it is.


thalarctos said...

Hi--the link to bruinskeptics is dead. Can I get the ppt frome somewhere else? Thanks.

miller said...

I still have a copy. You can e-mail me at skepticsplay at gmail dot com.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to have to tell you, skeptics, but unlike the rolling stones, time is not on your side. what skeptics really want is to freeze all human knowledge in about 1885. haha. good luck with that. and good luck with your quest for mental safety.

miller said...

Quantum mechanics is 20th century science.