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Can't anyone make it simple?

  1. Dec 28, 2004 #1
    Hi All,

    After reading a number of articles, books, websites, etc. on Quantum Theory, Mechanics, etc. I am still none the wiser. I am a simple man interested in particle physics...I don't do this for a job nor am I looking for a job in science but yet I have not discovered anyone or anything that can help to explain QP for the lay person.

    I once visited a website which helped explain atoms, etc. very clearly (URL escapes me for now) but I cannot find anything similar for QP.

    Can anyone help?
    Darren
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 28, 2004 #2
    quantum mechanics

    As seen in the quote below from the transcript of the PBS documentary of Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe, even an MIT professor of physics admits he doesn't have a deep intuitive grasp of quantum mechanics:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/transcripts/3012_elegant.html

    EDWARD FARHI (Massachusetts Institute of Technology): You have to learn to abandon those assumptions that you have about the world in order to understand quantum mechanics. In my gut, in my belly, do I feel like I have a deep intuitive understanding of quantum mechanics? No.

    http://web.mit.edu/physics/facultyandstaff/faculty/edward_farhi.html

    Far be it for me (a non-physicist) to claim to have a good understanding! However, here are some simple conceptual points associated with quantum mechanics. Perhaps these will help.

    It deals with VERY SMALL SCALES.

    http://www2.slac.stanford.edu/vvc/theory/quantum.html

    It is PROBABILISTIC. A particle may be in one location (with some probability) or in another. Or it may be in both at the same time (which may involve parallel universes). See the aforementioned PBS transcript for more discussion.

    Physical properties take on values only in DISCRETE, WHOLE-NUMBER UNITS. Quoting from the aforementioned Stanford link:

    To get some idea of how counter-intuitive this idea of discrete values is, imagine if someone told you that water could have only integer temperatures as you boiled it. For example, the water could have temperatures of 85º, 86º or 87º, but not 85.7º or 86.5º. It would be a pretty strange world you were living in if that were true.
     
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