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At Aeon: Quantum mechanics explains human intuition

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From Philip Ball at Aeon:

It’s a strange idea that measurement needs explaining at all. Usually what we mean by a measurement seems so trivial that we don’t even ask the question. A ball has a position, or a speed, or a mass. I can measure those things, and the things I measure are the properties of the ball. What more is there to say?

But in the quantum world things aren’t so obvious. There, the position of a particle is nothing more than a whole set of possible positions until the moment when it is observed. The same holds true for any other aspect of the particle. How does the multitude of potential properties in a quantum object turn into one specific reading on a measuring device? What is it about the object that caused the device to point to that precise answer? The modern answer is surprising: the act of measurement doesn’t entail a collapse of quantum-ness and a shift to classical-ness after all.

Quantum objects have a wave nature – which is to say, the theory tells us that they can be described as if they were waves, albeit waves of a peculiar sort. The waves do not move through any physical substance, as do waves in air or water, but are encoded in a purely mathematical object called a wave function that can be converted to probabilities of values of observable quantities. More.

Quantum mechanics does not explain human evolution at all but it avoids stupid non-explanations. Which is a start.

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One Reply to “At Aeon: Quantum mechanics explains human intuition

  1. 1
    Dionisio says:

    “Quantum mechanics explains human intuition”?

    Does it also explain why my 5-month grandson got me all wrapped around his little finger, even though I’m much bigger, stronger, more experienced and educated than him?

    🙂

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