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Using quantum weirdness to explain mysteries in our day to day world


Forums Forums Science and Technology Using quantum weirdness to explain mysteries in our day to day world

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  • #334148

    … and the myth of the empty space within an atom.

     

    There are people who will go on and on about the double-slit experiment and mind experiments, such as Schrödinger’s cat and other curiosities and how they hold secrets to understanding our own lives.  The thing that gets me is that the quantum realm is about the tiniest realm imaginable, at the very base of matter.  Of course, things are going to get weird, with particles popping into existence and out and atoms creating molecules that are constantly being knocked about by other particles – crazier than videos of the surface of the sun.

    How’s that going to inform us about this planet, it’s biosphere, it’s creatures, humans and our day to days?

    There are roughly 50,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms in a grain of sand.  That is 50 million, million, million atoms, or 5×1019  atoms.  Yes, that grain of sand that will comfortably sit on top of the head of pin.  Quantum weirdness belongs within that unimaginably tiny realm.

    By the time we factor up those singular quantum weirdnesses of ultra, ultra, ultra tiny bundles of energy, up to our macro world, all that curious weirdness gets lost in the sauce and structure of atoms and molecules.

    It’s only our (human mind’s constructed) mathematical formulas that describe electrons as specks orbiting a nucleus, and atoms as entities mostly made up of empty space like some tiny solar system.

    Only once we recognize the full spectrum of scientific understanding do we recognize that in reality electrons move so fast that they are smeared out into tiny forcefields that envelope an atoms nuclei within electron convalescence shells as solid as can be.  Nothing empty about it.

    Saying it’s all empty space is but a parlor head game.  It’s frivolousness is easy enough to prove, one convincing experiment is placing one’s finger between a rock and a moving hammer.  Results are immediate and dramatic.

    Moral of the story

    While it’s probably quite reasonable to claim that our macro world is ultimately embedded within this quantum fabric of reality and thus the echo of quantum mechanical behaviors must somehow resonate through the laws of nature as we see them – it’s still scientifically dishonest to imply that the behaviors and complex mathematics of that realm hold insights when translated into our macro realm.

    Which is what some repeatedly imply when they seamlessly flip back and forth between the quantum realm and analogies within humanity’s macro realm of our day to days.

    #334154

    Putting it out there to see if anyone has any related thoughts they’d like to share.

    #334179
    @timb
    Participant

    I have nothing to add, but thanks for the perspective.

    #334261

    👍

    Case in point, written by Amanda Gefter in a 2016 review:

    Experiment after experiment has shown — defying common sense — that if we assume that the particles that make up ordinary objects have an objective, observer-independent existence, we get the wrong answers.

    The central lesson of quantum physics is clear: There are no public objects sitting out there in some preexisting space. As the physicist John Wheeler put it, “Useful as it is under ordinary circumstances to say that the world exists ‘out there’ independent of us, that view can no longer be upheld.”

    The Evolutionary Argument Against Reality – Amanda Gefter – April 21, 2016

    https:  //www _ quantamagazine _ org/the-evolutionary-argument-against-reality-20160421/

    Why are these details roundly ignored?

     

    Experiment after experiment has shown that if we assume that the particles that make up ordinary objects.

    These particles are trillions and quadrillions and decillions times smaller than ordinary objects!

    Why do we expect that these bundles of energy should behave the way matter in our macro realm behaves ???

    The central lesson of quantum physics is clear:   There are no public objects sitting out there in some preexisting space.

    Yes, yes, Wheeler is light years smarter than I am, still that sentence is nothing less than rhetorical misdirection.

    He’s discussing the very finest details at the very edge of the fabric of space.  Than wordlessly shifting to macro scales.

    (seems logically very unsound – or can anyone clarify?)

    Emergent properties and all that.

    #334284
    @widdershins
    Participant

    I’ve see the post a couple of times here now that I think you’re responding to.  Essentially, “I don’t understand it, therefore science is magic!”

    What goes on at a quantum level is so small that it doesn’t affect us in any way.  Yeah, it has an effect on making my electrons turn into an electron cloud in my atoms and holding those atoms together to make me, but all this stuff happening at a quantum level is irrelevant to “me”.  It’s relevant only to the bits of me which are too small to see even with a microscope.

    For a visual aid, imagine an impossibly large dog the size of the planet Earth.  The component parts of that dog, right down to the cells, scale up with the size of the dog.  Now imagine that dog has a special kind of flea, no bigger than an ordinary flea, but it does not need blood (because it would never get to it), it can just take bites right out of the cells.  The fleas represent the quantum level and the giant dog represents us.  These fleas are going to much away on the cell membranes of the outer layer of the dog’s skin cells, but long before they ever got through the cell membrane the cell would die and be shed through the natural processes that happen with or without the fleas.  So although the dog is covered in fleas, he would never know it.  He would never see one, they would never make him scratch, they would not affect his health in any way.  Yes, they do make changes to the bits that make up the dog, but on a scale so small as to be completely inconsequential.  It would be impossible for the dog to perceive these fleas in any way.  He couldn’t see, feel or in any way detect that they were even there.

    And that’s what the quantum realm is to us.  Yeah, it affects the subatomic particles that make me up.  And, in fact, the rules of the quantum realm are probably what hold my atoms and molecules together.  So the quantum realm is what makes me able to be “me”.  But I gain and lose electrons, atoms and molecules all the time and I’ve never noticed until the gain or loss was on a colossal scale comparatively speaking.  Not until I eat or drink something, expel bodily wasted, clip my fingernails, breathe, bleed, etc.  That is colossal compared to the atomic level and the atomic level is pretty damned big compared to the quantum level.  So what happens on the quantum level not only doesn’t affect “me”, it’s completely impossible for me to perceive.

    #335184
    @cuthbertj
    Participant

    Every couple of years I try to learn a little more about particle physics and quantum theory, just from a super high level. And one thing I’ve learned is that the actual experts in this stuff rarely mean what their explanations seem to mean. A perfect example is the big bang. It’s usually explained as “everything started X billions of years ago at an infinitely tiny space and expanded out to how we observe things today”.  That’s just an analogy though. It’s not like there’s this giant room, and somewhere at point X,Y,Z there was this tiny ball of weird stuff, that blew up. There was no room, no rulers, no locations. But to explain THAT to layman would require math far beyond our layman’s understanding. So too with Quantum Theory. And so other’s take advantage of that, sometimes probably unknowingly, and come up with these fun but empty speculations.

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