Monday, October 3, 2011

Schrodinger'ss Cat: "As long as you just accept these paradoxes, quantum theory works fine."

The article linked below illustrates my existential philosophy; sure in an infinite universe where all possibilities occur, a random collection of atoms which parents named Daniel Allen Hill had to happen.

Not exactly the religious idea of Creator but perhaps amounts to a random # generator, not particularly acceptable orthodoxy at my church.

Nevertheless if Einstein himself expressed this as an either/or proposition, this perhaps puts the question of causation a bit above my ken and pay grade.

Whatever the answer, I perceive my existence within this infinitely improbable collection of atoms.

I yam what I yam!

Accepting the paradox of our being and becoming, where do we go from there?

Descartes famously wrote, "Cogito ergo sum" (French: Je pense, donc je suis; English: I think, therefore I am;" but Freud might write that overestimates the importancce of rationality in human existence.

No one who knows me could accuse me of a surfeit of rationality, since actions seldom spring from plans. Retired now too early from workaday world, the flow just kind of carries me along.

Nevertheless, my existential philosophy disallows thinking of my thoughts as as merely operations of what Freud called "superego" or what Skinner would see as merely the results of all the conditioning received during my life.

If either of the above were "true," from where would spring my whimsy, humour, seeing satire and irony in all things; whence laughter and tears and love and loss?

Perhaps between positions of Freud and Skinner--my consciousness determined by sub-conscious or determined by outside conditioning--we can place Jung's ideas of the collective unconscious existence and theory of archetypes.

Since life has led me to no greater archetype than Jesusof the Gospels, we can lead ourselves to a restatement of Descate's proposition, I care about other humans, so I live as a human.

I care, therefore I am.

[Quantum mechanics is more than a hundred years old, but we still don’t understand it. In recent years, however, physicists have found a fresh enthusiasm for exploring the questions about quantum theory that were swept under the rug by its founders. Advances in experimental methods make it possible to test ideas about why objects on the scale of atoms follow different rules from those that govern objects on the everyday scale. In effect, this becomes an enquiry into the sense in which things exist at all.

In 1900 the German physicist Max Planck suggested that light—a form of electromagnetic waves—consists of tiny, indivisible packets of energy. These particles, called photons, are the “quanta” of light. Five years later Albert Einstein showed how this quantum hypothesis explained the way light kicks electrons out of metals—the photoelectric effect. It was for this, not the theory of relativity, that he won his Nobel prize.

The early pioneers of quantum theory quickly discovered that the seemingly innocuous idea that energy is grainy has bizarre implications. Objects can be in many places at once. Particles behave like waves and vice versa. The act of witnessing an event alters it. Perhaps the quantum world is constantly branching into multiple universes.

As long as you just accept these paradoxes, quantum theory works fine. Scientists routinely adopt the approach memorably described by Cornell physicist David Mermin, as “shut up and calculate.” They use quantum mechanics to calculate everything from the strength of metal alloys to the shapes of molecules. Routine application of the theory underpins the miniaturisation of electronics, medical MRI imaging and the development of solar cells, to name just a few burgeoning technologies.] emphasis added to article

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