Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Werner Heisenberg

 

“I remember discussions with Bohr which went through many hours till very late at night and ended almost in despair; and when at the end of the discussion I went alone for a walk in the neighboring park I repeated to myself again and again the question: Can nature possibly be so absurd as it seemed to us in these atomic experiments?” – Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy (1958)

In 1905, Albert Einstein argued that light behaves not only as a continuous wave but sometimes as an individual particle. This led to the development of Quantum Mechanics in the mid-1920s by Werner Heisenberg, Niels Bohr, Erwin Schrödinger, and others. Einstein questioned parts of the theory with his “God does not play dice with the universe” quote. Even 100 years later, Quantum Mechanics still troubles us with its strange phenomena.

Heisenberg (12/5/1901 – 2/1/1976) was a key pioneer in quantum mechanics. He published a breakthrough paper in 1925, and additionally with Max Born and Pascual Jordan described the matrix formulation of quantum mechanics. Heisenberg won the Nobel Prize in 1932 “for the creation of quantum mechanics.” In 1927, Heisenberg stated his famous Uncertainty Principle as:

The more precise the measurement of position, the more imprecise the measurement of momentum, and vice versa.

This is a fairly easy idea to understand. To measure the object’s location, some energy (usually light) must impact the object. For big objects, this effect is trivial. But when an object is extremely small (like an electron) the light imparts energy to the particle. Thus the momentum (mass times velocity) changes. Einstein agreed with this theory, as it can be shown within the structure of classical physics.

But other parts of Quantum Theory are difficult, such as the dual (particle and wave) nature of light. In the famous two slit experiment, a light (or electron) source is effectively split into two separate waves that later combine, resulting in the well-known interference pattern of classical mechanics. Since Einstein showed that light can sometimes behave like a particle, how does a particle exhibit special wave properties going through either slit? You can send only one electron at a time and the effect is still valid. Even today, people still struggle with this phenomenon:

Could it be that each electrons somehow splits, passes through both slits at once, interferes with itself, and then recombines to meet the second screen as a single, localized particle?

To find out, you might place a detector by the slits, to see which slit an electron passes through… If you do that, then the pattern on the detector screen turns into the particle pattern of two strips… The interference pattern disappears. Somehow, the very act of looking makes sure that the electrons travel like well-behaved little tennis balls.

This is similar to what’s involved in the Uncertainty Principle but very weird! No wonder Heisenberg remarked:

Quantum theory provides us with a striking illustration of the fact that we can fully understand a connection though we can only speak of it in images and parables.

Published in Group Writing
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 15 comments.

  1. Vectorman Thatcher
    Vectorman

    The Quote of the Day series is the easiest way to start a fun conversation on Ricochet. There are many open days on the January Signup Sheet. We even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    • #1
    • December 23, 2019, at 5:39 PM PST
    • 1 like
  2. RightAngles Member

    Quantum Mechanics still troubles us with its strange phenomena.

    It won’t trouble you if you’re like me and don’t understand it!

    • #2
    • December 23, 2019, at 5:58 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  3. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    Quantum phenomena is where my engineer’s mastery of mathematics and physics starts to fail me. /:

    Momma told there’d be people smarter than me….

    • #3
    • December 23, 2019, at 6:34 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  4. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Is this really my lot?/Wolfgang Pauli I’m not

    • #4
    • December 23, 2019, at 6:35 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  5. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Quantum Mechanics still troubles us with its strange phenomena.

    It won’t trouble you if you’re like me and don’t understand it!

    It is so bizarre that most who use it do not really understand it.

    • #5
    • December 24, 2019, at 12:04 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  6. Matt Saracen Coolidge

    The two-slit experiment is really, really weird. No one actually understands it. There are lots of theories about it, but nothing really solid.

    • #6
    • December 24, 2019, at 12:30 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  7. GLDIII Temporarily Essential Thatcher
    GLDIII Temporarily Essential Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):

    Quantum phenomena is where my engineer’s mastery of mathematics and physics starts to fail me. /:

    Momma told there’d be people smarter than me….

    It was the fall of 1977 when my poor Newtonian engineering mind first encountered quantum mechanics. To this day I still have issues with wrapping my mind around there real physical implications of QM and emotionally agree with Einstein that God should not be playing dice with the universe.

    Fortunately I could memorize enough, and we were graded on the class curve principle. I am grateful that I was slotted with lesser minds and got my low, low, B from that semester of physics.

    • #7
    • December 24, 2019, at 5:55 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  8. Stad Thatcher

    GLDIII Temporarily Essential (View Comment):

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):

    Quantum phenomena is where my engineer’s mastery of mathematics and physics starts to fail me. /:

    Momma told there’d be people smarter than me….

    It was the fall of 1977 when my poor Newtonian engineering mind first encountered quantum mechanics. To this day I still have issues with wrapping my mind around there real physical implications of QM and emotionally agree with Einstein that God should not be playing dice with the universe.

    Fortunately I could memorize enough, and we were graded on the class curve principle. I am grateful that I was slotted with lesser minds and got my low, low, B from that semester of physics.

    Ditto here. I took QM 1 & 2 my senior year (Fall ’76, Spring ’77). I understood the concepts, but remember a struggle making calculations. Instead of graduating, I felt more like I escaped with my degree . . .

     

     

    • #8
    • December 24, 2019, at 6:05 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  9. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    Stad (View Comment):

    GLDIII Temporarily Essential (View Comment):

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):

    Quantum phenomena is where my engineer’s mastery of mathematics and physics starts to fail me. /:

    Momma told there’d be people smarter than me….

    It was the fall of 1977 when my poor Newtonian engineering mind first encountered quantum mechanics. To this day I still have issues with wrapping my mind around there real physical implications of QM and emotionally agree with Einstein that God should not be playing dice with the universe.

    Fortunately I could memorize enough, and we were graded on the class curve principle. I am grateful that I was slotted with lesser minds and got my low, low, B from that semester of physics.

    Ditto here. I took QM 1 & 2 my senior year (Fall ’76, Spring ’77). I understood the concepts, but remember a struggle making calculations. Instead of graduating, I felt more like I escaped with my degree . . .

    Heh. I didn’t have to take QM for my EE degree. I did have to take Semiconductor Physics, which brushes up against it (junction energy levels and electron tunneling). Fortunately, the bit of QM was reduced to memorizable equations. Calculations were therefore easy–I got an A. The underlying concepts still crack my skull.

    • #9
    • December 24, 2019, at 6:17 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  10. Vectorman Thatcher
    Vectorman

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):
    Heh. I didn’t have to take QM for my EE degree. I did have to take Semiconductor Physics, which brushes up against it (junction energy levels and electron tunneling). Fortunately, the bit of QM was reduced to memorizable equations. Calculations were therefore easy–I got an A. The underlying concepts still crack my skull.

    As a Computer Science major, I didn’t take QM. In Grad School, I took many EE courses, and wished that I would have majored in EE.

    In those days, there were many courses like QM to weed out students. In CS it was Numerical Analysis, a “worthless” subject today, as computer speeds have made that obsolete for most applications.

    • #10
    • December 24, 2019, at 7:12 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  11. Misthiocracy ingeniously Member
    Misthiocracy ingeniously Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I submit that the reason Pilot Wave Theory hasn’t become more popular is that it makes Quantum Mechanics way less interesting, and too many people make their living by “blowing people’s minds” when talking about quantum mechanics. 

    • #11
    • December 24, 2019, at 9:21 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  12. Vectorman Thatcher
    Vectorman

    Misthiocracy grudgingly (View Comment):

    I submit that the reason Pilot Wave Theory hasn’t become more popular is that it makes Quantum Mechanics way less interesting, and too many people make their living by “blowing people’s minds” when talking about quantum mechanics.

    I’ve never heard of Pilot Wave Theory.

    Learn something new
    Most every day
    It’s always cool
    On Ricochet

    • #12
    • December 24, 2019, at 10:20 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  13. OldDanRhody, 7152 Maple Dr. Member

    Stad (View Comment):
    Ditto here. I took QM 1 & 2 my senior year (Fall ’76, Spring ’77). I understood the concepts, but remember a struggle making calculations. Instead of graduating, I felt more like I escaped with my degree . . .

    Likewise. Too many years ago now to remember much of it. One thing I have learned is that much of science is descriptive, with various theories attempting to describe and predict what is actually observed.

    • #13
    • December 24, 2019, at 11:07 AM PST
    • 1 like
  14. danok1 Member

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):
    Heh. I didn’t have to take QM for my EE degree. I did have to take Semiconductor Physics, which brushes up against it (junction energy levels and electron tunneling). Fortunately, the bit of QM was reduced to memorizable equations. Calculations were therefore easy–I got an A. The underlying concepts still crack my skull.

    As a Computer Science major, I didn’t take QM. In Grad School, I took many EE courses, and wished that I would have majored in EE.

    In those days, there were many courses like QM to weed out students. In CS it was Numerical Analysis, a “worthless” subject today, as computer speeds have made that obsolete for most applications.

    We had the choice of “Modern Physics” (i.e., QM) or Thermodynamics. Most of my friends went with QM; I chose Thermo. Very glad I did!

    • #14
    • December 24, 2019, at 11:31 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  15. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    God probably doesn’t play dice with the Universe, but I’m pretty sure He plays dice with Humanity once in a while. Just to keep us on our toes.

    • #15
    • December 24, 2019, at 4:55 PM PST
    • 2 likes