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Re: collapsing the wave function
 
redlepton Views: 1,619
Published: 15 years ago
 
This is a reply to # 771,300

Re: collapsing the wave function


I just wanted to add something regarding "collapsing the wave function" of the electron, making it act like a particle. This short film acts as though it is a great mystery.

Imagine you are blind or in a dark room. There is a guitar string vibrating. You cannot see it, but you want to know exactly where it is. Since it is vibrating, it's postition is like a wave function. You cannot see it, so how do you observe where it is exactly at a given time? You reach out and put your finger on it, then let go as quick as you can. Now you know where it is, for sure. But wait, it isn't vibrating any more, you've collapsed the wave function!

The electron is like that. The premise of collapsing it's wave function by "observing it" isn't really a philosophical mystery. It's still a physical problem. Quantum mechanics is really saying that, due to our human limitations, there is no way to observe the state of the system without changing it. If you shoot a big ole photon at an electron, you are going to cause some change. And because our eyes (and scientific machines) can't know where that stinker electron is otherwise, we gotta do what we gotta do to get a measurement.

I'm not saying there aren't other cool philosphical things to think about in QM, I'm just saying that the example of the electron isn't one of them, though it's the most common one that non-scientists use to create the aura of mystery with regards to QM. Instead, look into the EPR experiment (Einstein Podolsky Rosen).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPR_paradox

That could interest people who like the Laws of Attraction.
 

 
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