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  1. #11
    resonance entropie's Avatar
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    Architectonic said it already, I will try to bring things into some context. I am no physicist so pardon incorrecntness.

    Well first of all you have Heisenbergs uncertainity principle: you know that according to E = m * c² , every solid matter (m for mass, E for energy) is energy that got glued together. Then there is energy that hasnt become solid matter, like for example light. What light is made of, we dont know, but we describe its behaviour like that of a wave. If you use a sine wave-function you could describe the movement of light. So that means we have particles (matter) and waves.

    The photon is a element of light. So what's a photon, a wave ? The thing is, depending on how you look at it, its either a wave or a particle. That's what Heisenberg was about. Heisenberg tried to capture a photon and when he did it was a particle. But when he didnt concentrate on a single photon but rather watched its movement, it behaved like a wave. That's called the Wave-particle-duality, which all particles inherit. For reference see Dr. Quantum ( Dr. Quantums Double Slit Experiment ).

    Now three smart dicks, postulated the EPR-effect. That is the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen effect. They said that they take a system with two particles which are one at the beginning. For example in an radioactive atom which is falling apart. Those two particles then leave the atom and travel in exactly opposite directions. They are quantenmechanically entagled. Now according to Heisenberg you can either only measure the place a particle is at or its impulse (movement). The impulse and the place can be shown as a vector. Like for example airplanes use it. A vectoir is a matrix of for example 4 numbers of which 3 are space coordinates and 1 is the impulse. Such a vector, applied to a quantum mechanical system is called the eigenstate. or eigenvector.

    If we now dont measure neither the place nor the impulse of the particles, the result could be anything. Thats called the superposition of the eigenstate. In the moment of measurement, so when you take a picture, you'll only measure one eigenstate, namely the particle is next to Saturn or so.

    So now back to the two particles, which are moving quantenmechanically entagled in the opposite direction. According to classical physic, I should be able to measure either place or impulse of both of the particles. But that is not the case. Fact is I can either measure the place of particle 1 and will get the place of particle 2 aswell or the impulse of both. So Heisenbergs theory now applies to two seemingly different particles. Instead of measuring place and impulse on could do the same with the particles spin but would get the same result.

    This thought experiment was lately attested in reality by Niels Bohr I think to remember. It says that particles can be entangled in their quantum states and it says that something's very odd here and it's prolly our limited understanding so far why that is so.

    Schrödinger back then now came and transfered this experiment into the macroscopic layer. He said if you put a cat into a box and put a radioactive nucleus into the box aswell, which will decompose but you do not know when. On decomposition it will trigger a geiger counter which then will smash a bottle with poison killing the cat. As long now as the box is closed, the cat is in superposition and can have the state of being dead or being alive. In the moment in which we oipen the box, the quantum mechanical system which the box resembles takes on one concrete eigenvector and therefore tells us where it is. That's the only way to find out if the cat is dead or alive.

    Since thios is a game of probability you can say statistically that the cat is undead or dead-and-alive at the same time . Einstein said that this cant be all there is to it and commented it with the famous sentence "God doesnt play dice".
    Last edited by entropie; 05-01-2011 at 06:30 PM.
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  2. #12
    The Eighth Colour Octarine's Avatar
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    I think the first thing to do when considering Quantum mechanics is to discard classical notions of particles and waves.

    Even if all you can do is visualize the wavefunction similar to the set of harmonics of a vibrating string, this is better than those classical notions.
    I might post in more detail now, but let us consider an idealized guitar string.

    What happens when you pluck the string (provide the system with energy). You get standing wave harmonicsnot just at the fundamental, but in fact harmonics towards infinity (harmonics determined by the elastic potential and the boundary conditions). Note: A real guitar won't of course have harmonics up to infinity because of physical constraints. Anyway, if you were to touch the string at any point (except at the boundary points), the harmonic you detect could be any of the infinite range of harmonics. However, you are most likely to detect the fundamental harmonic. It clearly doesn't make much sense to say, hey, there must have been a particle that existed at that precise point. Nor is it a typical wave (since there are infinite harmonics and it isn't going anywhere). Hence classical notions of particles and waves don't really describe the system well.

    Or course quantum mechanical systems have some bizarre aspects such as tunneling that are difficult to explain with the above analogy. Eg if you placed an infinitely deep node, and plucked only one side, you wouldn't see anything on the other side in the ideal guitar analogy (since the node must have a measurable width).

  3. #13
    Senior Member tkae.'s Avatar
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    The flaw with the experiment is the concept of the cat's fate causing no form of non-visual evidence.

    If the cat dies, give it few hours and it's gonna start to smell.

    If the cat lives, give it a few hours and it'll want water.

    If you manage to find a way that the cat won't smell when it dies, then it will suffocate, and if it can somehow breathe, get water and air, and you still have nothing to go on, then that kind of scenario doesn't actually exist outside of a laboratory setting.

    Soooo yeah
    "Not knowing how near the truth is, we seek it far away." -Ekaku Hakuin
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  4. #14
    AKA Nunki Polaris's Avatar
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    Note about Polaris' post. It is not about human 'observation'. The superposition can decohere into a definite eigenstate due to quantum interactions, regardless of whether this interaction is formally observed or not. The interesting point is that we can only associate the system with a definite eigenstate at the moment of interaction. At other times, a superposition is a more natural assumption, at least if you discard classical notions of physics.
    If you're required to interact with an object in order to determine which eigenstate it possesses, that illustrates the role of observation in exactly the way I described. Undoubtedly there are some cases where interacting with an object has negligible effects on it--this is a type of situation I outlined in my post--but there are also cases where the act of observation plays a tangible role on the object's state itself (by way of observation's means of observing). As far as I can tell, Copenhagen's ideas are a scientific elaboration on this latter kind of case, whereas Schrodinger's Cat illustrates a case in which there is no decisive role being played either by observation's means of observation or by any other physical entities; the object's state at such a moment can only be determined as a range of mutually exclusive possibilities, called a superposition.
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  5. #15
    The Eighth Colour Octarine's Avatar
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    My point was to shift away from unnecessary notions of human influence and towards considering the underlying interactions involved. It is true that such interactions must have occurred for a human to make an observation. But my point was that such equations describe the limitations of physical interactions independent of human action.

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