Tuesday, October 30, 2007

O tempora! O mores!

And what extreme slackness on my part. Yet another zombie blog cluttering up cyberspace, alas!

Here are two more things I don't understand, which I will have a proper stab at real soon now:

(1) What is it with quantum teleportation? My gut feeling is that ‘teleportation’ is an illusion arising from us looking at things the wrong way.

(2) Ditto for the ‘collapse’ of a wavefunction.

What happens to these concepts in the De Broglie pilot-wave model? This is a model which can explain the mysterious double-slit experiments- where electrons (and neutrons, and helium nuclei) seem to interfere with each other as if they were waves *even if only one is sent through at a time* - in terms of each particle really being a particle but being guided by a 'pilot wave'. I find this much more satisfactory than wave/particle duality- which of course has no bearing on whether it is true or not.
De Broglie's abandoned this theory, but other people have been mucking about with it and optimising it from time to time. But, as a mere chemist, I don't really understand what they are saying.

“One singular deception of this sort ... is to mistake the sensation produced
by our own unclearness of thought for a character of the object we are
thinking. Instead of perceiving that the obscurity is purely subjective, we
fancy that we contemplate a quality of the object which is essentially
mysterious; and if our conception be afterward presented to us in a clear
form we do not recognise it as the same, owing to the absence of the feeling
of unintelligibility.”

- Charles Sanders Peirce, ‘How to Make Our Ideas Clear’