Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What does Quantum Physics tell us?

  1. May 12, 2005 #1
    To those who come close to understanding the quantum world, what does it mean to you? I mean what difference has it made in your view of the universe? I understand that people have interpreted it in many ways, and not everyone agrees, but there must be some general consensus about what it's saying about my reality. Right :confused:
  2. jcsd
  3. May 12, 2005 #2
    It tells us never to follow human intuition when trying to understand nature.

  4. May 12, 2005 #3


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Are you asking about the philosophical or physical implications? Marlon gave the philosophical - the physical implications are that it explains as much about how the microscopic world works as gravity does about the macroscopic one: ie, an awful lot.
  5. May 12, 2005 #4
    Of course in the current QM world view would say we can not improve on QM.

    Don’t you think it might take human intuition and creative insight to find a real solution to the parts of nature we don’t yet understand? Where QM can only give good answers, but not an explanation. Allowing that not everyone’s intuition is the same, just one out many might include the insight that provides a real explanation through on improved view of our physical reality that QM doesn’t provide.

    Also, Marion, did you come across a copy of the IMEC document you spoke of in your May 7 Journal entry?

    Without wax
  6. May 12, 2005 #5
    Quantum theory doesn't give any consistent intuitive view
    of the deep reality of the sub-microscopic world. It isn't
    a 'deep' theory in that sense. It gives a mathematically
    consistent method for calculating the probable results of
    experiments. It's about experimental data -- which can be
    *interpreted* (vis some picture of the 'deep reality') in a
    number of ways. That's why very knowledgeable people
    are still arguing about the nature of the universe.

    This does *not* mean that your intuition about deep reality
    is necessarily not to be trusted. As you learn more, your
    'intuition' changes. Experimental results restrict what
    one can and can't say about the nature of reality.
    But, in the sense that extant observations are possibly
    just scratching the surface, then experiments are a rough
    guide, at best, wrt the how/what the universe 'really' is.

    Rule of Thumb: Take what physicists (or anybody for that
    matter) say about their 'philosophical' preferences wrt the
    *nature* of reality with a grain of salt. One reason why
    physics is such a fascinating pursuit is that nobody really
    knows the deep answers.
  7. May 12, 2005 #6
  8. May 15, 2005 #7
    Quantum mechanics tells us that the universe is governed by particles, their intrinsic properties and interactions. The so-called sea of energy is the most important.
    Last edited: May 15, 2005
  9. Jul 11, 2005 #8
    In my opinion, QM serves as a base to one of the most beautiful mathematical theories every constructed, i.e. string theory.
  10. Jul 12, 2005 #9
    It tells me one method (and usually the best) of several for predicting measurements within the regime it has been tested in. What it "means" to me is that we have another method for predicting what we observe mathematically.
  11. Jul 17, 2005 #10
    In many respects, QM seems to be a built-in limitation or filter, preventing sentient beings emerging in this universe such like us from being able to "pull up the courtains" and see the real rules of the game.
    Let's hope it's not so
  12. Jul 17, 2005 #11


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    This is close to my belief too. To repeat what I have said elsewhere, Quantum Mechanics is not about the world, but about our relationship to the world, and it presents a narrow window, which does not pretend to be a complete view, between us and the actions of the world. It enables physicsts to design and interet experiments, but it cannot, I believe, be used as a basis for philosophy, except possibly as part of a neo-Kantian view.
  13. Jul 20, 2005 #12
    I'm not sure why quantum mechanics is not about the world. If it's not then why do we do it? Weren't we forced to develop it as a result of observing the world? Particle/waves, nonlocality, complementarity, superposition, uncertainty etc., all these things must be explained by any metaphysic or cosmological theory, and this seems to mean that QM is central to philosophy, ontology at least, just like all other scientific discoveries regarding the nature of reality, for they cannot just be ignored. It cannot be a good idea to philosophise about reality while ignoring physics. If a metaphysical theory does not explain the findings of QM then it's not much of a theory, and if it contradicts QM it is a false theory.

    To me what is important about QM is precisely its philosophical implications, since it shows that naive realism is false and that reality has the dual and complementary aspects that many have always said it has. Also I agree with the observation that it means we cannot "pull up the curtain" by doing just science.
  14. Jul 20, 2005 #13
    As selfAdjoint said QM is about our effort to explain the world by understanding how we see the world insead of diectly defining the world. Explaining "what we see" is a little “trick” to give us a foundation to work from uncertainty and probabilities. Is it ‘fair’ to use such a trick?? Even IF it does not directly describe a correct view of the world. The success of so much of the science we use today is directly related to QM helping us to relate to what what we see. Correct or not, fair or not, no one can deny the success or at least usefulness of QM.

    That’s only true if we can “Prove” QM is completely correct! Even with all the effort on Strings, M, etc. QM hasn’t done that yet.
    An anolagy can be found in our Brain Teasers
    Assume we have a Box that produces numbers that perfectly matches our “QM” statistical predictions of the box containing two normal dice. But it could have a pair of funny dice (1,2,2,3,3,4) & (1,2,3,4,5,6,8), OR a Roulette Wheel with the 0’s blocked and the numbers renumbers OR a single Die with 36 sides. Which of the 4 is real. If we cannot test for doubes etc. we cannot resolve what is really in the box.
    QM has yet to open the box.
    NO, QM just hasn’t been able to open the box or pull up the curtain!
    Kepler, Newton, Einstein all helped raise the curtain, but often by learning from those that were tugging on the wrong curtain! Maybe QM is tugging on the wrong curtain. I believe by using science we can look in the box, the only thing that will stop us is if we give up looking. QM by no means has proven itself to the point we should give up - to assume what we have now is good enough would be Ptolemaic.

  15. Jul 20, 2005 #14
    Besides the probably most familiar features such as the uncertainty principle, the particle-wave duality etc, I find particularly intriguing the sub-question "what does quantum theory tell us about time?"

    I guess the evidence of non-locality and in particular the "delayed choice experiment" should be pointing to something about time that we do not grasp. Any comments?

    In fact, I think I'm gonna start a thread in the Quantum Physics chapter with the question "does the delayed choice experiment violate the standard relativistic "cause-and-effect" thinking? It's not clear to me
  16. Aug 15, 2005 #15
    QM tells me that the only way I'm ever going to survive is if I never stop finding better ways to learn.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?