Quantum Mechanics, how much of it is pseudoscience, and how much of it is good science?

What does the Double-slit experiment suggest? Some creationists suggest this means something that supports their argument, but I don't see how it does.

How how does all of this fit in with a determinist point of view?

Tags: Mechanics, Physics, Quantum

Views: 18

Replies to This Discussion

You have many questions...
Quantum mechanics, in the way that is taught at the University is consistent and clear theory of particles of low energies. And as every consistent theory, it is science. It can make predictions and it can be falsified.
There is at least one other type of science: phenomenological descriptions.

Unfortunately, I don't know what creationist think about the double slit experiment, but I have seen, that most of the features of quantum mechanics can be found there.

If its predictions are true - and they were found to be true - what we consider as objects in reality can be treated as wave functions. These wave functions evolve evolve deterministicly as long as they don't interact with other objects - the detector. In this case - if they were treated as quantum mechanical objects too - the output will be observed as a random variable.

Please check Hugh Everett and the multi world interpretation. (to be honest, there are a few other interpretations)
Quantum Mechanics as discussed by physicists is good science, if a bit hard on the brain. 'Quantum Mechanics' TM as discussed by new-agers is pseudoscience. The things in What the Bleep Do We Know and the like really have nothing to do with the real study of qm.

The double-slit (and later single split) experiments are experiments regarding wave diffraction. The originals were tests on light, specifically creating interference patterns from pseudo-point sources. They were some of the original steps leading to the bane of high-school physics students- particle/wave duality.

An interesting thing happens if you take obvious particles electrons for instance, and run them through an appropriately scaled version of either the double- or single-slit experiments. If you 'observe' (read interact with) the particles between the slit and the screen, they stack up just like you would expect particles to. If you leave them alone, however, they form interference patterns, as if they were waves. This suggests that on quantum scales, particle/wave duality is not restricted to photons.

I've never seen a creationist use slit experiments as defense; I'm quite curious to see how they could finagle that one.

Basically, the wave behavior in our electron slit experiment is a function of probablity. You can get into whole discussions on the nature of 'probablity waves', as they are usually styled in lay documents, and collapsing them via observation. This fits back into determinism (if you care to make the leap) by beginning to give non-random explanations for apparently random events. (That's probably putting it a bit strongly, but my first thought was the phrase predictable stochastics which is almost certainly worse.)

A lot of this is massive simplification, I know, but I'm just trying to get the salient points across without garbling anything too badly. Once I get past the experimentation, I'm getting out of my optically grounded league.
>> Religious types may like to point at this and say "see, we CAN influence the universe!"
Oh yes... like the famous spoon-bending mind-over-matter misconception.
Yes we can, but we need very intense interactions. See the quantum-Zenon effect.
Can we burn the meditators for fuel?
Just in case if they had died a million year ago. Otherwise it is inhumane :)
In quantum mechanics one can only observe something, if interacts with it. If you play with the type of interaction, like focus a strong light onto the CC of water... you may gain a few things, but I don't think it depends on the number of observers.
As I said: mind over matter is a misconception as far as I know. It assumes that the "soul" is not just a configuration of the particles in the brain, but it can choose what to observe from the possible outcomes of an interaction. But since this "dualism" is not a consistent theory, I can't support it.
A few links, if anyone is still interested.

First, from HyperPhysics (an excellent basic resource):
Single- Double- and Multi-Slit diagrams and An actual image of Single- and Double-Slit results

Second, I dug through YouTube to find a good video without too much extraneous material:

I hope someone gets something out of something, or something...
The only way I've ever seen Creationists use QM to support their hypothesis is that everything in the universe comes down to probability, and God could "cheat" within the bounds of what is probable.

Most of the religious find that rather objectionable, though, since it would set some very strict limitations on just what God could do as a miracle. Most of the non-religious also find it rather objectionable, since there is absolutely no reason to suppose its true.

QM and pseudoscience... Pseudoscientists are drawn to QM like moths to a flame. While the basic principles of QM are relatively straightforward, their interactions and predictions are so complicated and counter-intuitive in many situations that the general populace just doesn't understand them. That means that QM terms can be thrown around the way alchemy was in the middle ages. People who don't know any better eat it up, because it sounds like science. Explaining quantum interactions well enough to dispel such misconceptions of the uninformed can be especially difficult, given the math involved is well beyond what most people had in school. Outside of science / engineering / mathematics, who takes differential equations?

For an example of brain-breaking QM results, there's this fun experiment: the Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser -- a variant of the double-slit experiment where the results depend on future events, yet it does not violate causality.
Yay - quantum entanglement.

Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood a single word. * Niels Bohr
I think Feshy is right about how creationists would use it to their advantage. However, when I was first learning this, I remember reading that the uncertainty in a body's position and momentum is an intrinsic property of it and "not even god can know it's definite position and velocity".
I think the Double-Slit experiment suggests that - just as there are many possible futures that something can have - there are also many different versions of the past. Things in the quantum world can have any history that you want them to have; or all such histories at once. We are looking at alternate timelines here. Whether they also represent alternate universes - as some believe - or simply vanish into the realms of zero possibility after being observed - is not something that has so far been demonstrated through experimental observation.

What the Double-Slit experiment proves - is that the past can be just as indeterminate as the future.

The "observer" is nothing mystical.

The way that I understand things, the observer can be anything at all that is capable of being affected by the quantum characteristics of an object. In that sense, an "observer" does not require any intelligence at all - and can even be a single molecule of air. Or it can be an electron. Or it can be a quark. It doesn't MATTER what the observer is, as long as it is something that can be affected by the quantum state of SOMETHING ELSE.

The Double-Slit experiment is an example of a MACRO "OBSERVER".

Most "observers" are microscopic, and are not witnessed by any human intelligence at all. That is why the macro world - of people and planets and stars, ad infinitum, does NOT appear to have quantum characteristics. Any indeterminate characteristics it might have had, has already been collapsed by the group behavior of trillions upon trillions upon trillions of atoms and molecules.

Once again, we note that the "observer" can be anything which is affected by a quantum object.

A single molecule of air would certainly be affected by the quantum characteristics of a free electron. The wave function of the electron would then be seen to collapse; at which point, it might be described as a particle - as opposed to a wave.

That same molecule of air might not be affected by a photon, however, since it might be virtually transparent to it. NOR would fiber optic cable be affected by the quantum state of a photon, since this is ALSO transparent. So the photon in either case, could penetrate quite a few molecules without disturbing anything - and losing it's quantum coherency.

The idea of alternate timelines, in my opinion, ALSO explains quantum entanglement.

Two or more quantum entangled objects can be separated by any distance; they can be half-way across the room, half-way across town, or half-way across the galaxy. Distance is irrelevant. As soon as the quantum state of ONE is collapsed, the quantum state of the OTHER is collapsed. There are some people who view this as a faster than light transmission. Others, see the quantum objects as having communicated information into the past. In my opinion, NEITHER of these things are taking place.

In my view, both quantum entangled objects had indeterminate histories. Or to put it another way, they had indeterminate timelines. BOTH histories - or timelines - were equally valid; until an "observer" of some kind collapsed the quantum wave function of at least ONE of these objects. When the history of ONE object was determined, the history of the OTHER object was determined as well - even though they might have been separated by many light years of space.

No faster than light transmission occurred.

Both histories were EQUALLY REAL - and ALWAYS EXISTED - until ONE HISTORY was made determinate.

Of course, even though no faster than light transmission of quantum characteristics occurs, this does not rule out the faster than light transmission of INFORMATION - since selecting the history of an object in one part of the universe - will instantly determine the history of it's quantum entangled partner in another part of the universe. So if you like - you can have faster than light communication - without anything actually moving faster than the speed of light.

And that is quantum physics - mysticism removed.
Let me say some words from materialism point of wiev.
Religion says: I cannot prove the existence of God - so it exists.
Materialism says: I can see nothing else but matter.
They agree in that "wonder" is, or would be an evidence of God's existence.
However, you cannot see miracles, only subjective reports about things or events which are not reproducible. And this is the basis. The Double-slit experiment is a reproducible phenomenon, not a miracle. Consequently it is a character of matter. QED


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