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Justin Hall
19 may, 1996
Reality, Boccio

quantum stuff

before there was quantum physics, the physics of the nineties, there was classical physics.

this is what most folks know about physics, you know, like popular physics, it's about like

matter and fields

a lawfirm?
newton made the universe like a clock, all orderly and stuff - he explained why the apple fell from the tree.

he did this by explaining the nature of matter and fields. drop an object, the matter of the object is affected by the fields surrounding it (gravitational or electromagnetic)

he got the gravity thing, I think, that's why his name is on a famous gravity law.

he didn't grok on the electromagnetic thing so well, but he did use scientific method - hypothesis, theory, stuff like that, with well documented experiments to back it up.

some guy named maxwell used like the same method and learned about fields and stuff.

then that famous dude einstein found out some more stuff that science didn't know - in one year, 1905, he busted out three phat theories, that are like still famous today. he was a major dude, and that was a major year.

he discovered that things are like relative. this is an important part of quantum physics. I'm not sure where those two things intersect.

I have a pretty hard time with most of this science stuff. I took this class cuz it seemed abstract enough for me to understand.

so for my final paper, I'm gonna try to explain to you these five postulates of quantum theory, they're like the only thing for sure about the whole thing:

one - physical states

all physical systems are represented by vectors of length one

vector? if you don't know what a vector is, why would you care about it's length?

just chill, I'll explain it all.

A vector has both magnitude and direction (according to my roommate's dictionary)

you can describe any object in the world like that:

he's a big guy, and he's coming to beat you up.
that young tree is growing bigger, taller, older.

so it's like your size, your presence, how much space you take up, what you're made up of, like physical properties and stuff and then where you're going, what you're motion is, where you're headed.

so first we say that physical systems are all vectors,

just like we just did

I'm not quite sure why the vectors should equal one,
I went web hunting for an answer, trying to remember the professor's friends name, and found instead the book of knowledge, darn hard to interperet.

I guess we say that they have length one so to say that vectors, each matter occupies equal space in our consideration.

and maybe they all equal one cuz, you know, life, like time, you know, it implies implicitly advancement, forward moving direction. everybody's affected by time, you know.

I can't remember if I asked the prof what happens if they have length not equal to one, or such an object, if then non-physical, what would it be? sounds like something I would ask, or at least somebody must've.

anyways, when we talk about a vector, I wrote down that that's like everything we can know about a state simultaineously - the max info possible. I think that's relevant, or true or whatever.

but then somewhere else I wrote down that a state is a superposition of measurable properties - probabilities, so I dunno. they could be the same thing, whatever.

just assume that a vector is a thing, and like everything you know about it, like for physics people, and for like real people too.

postulate two - measurable properties

measurable properties of physical systems are called "observables"
observables are represented by "operators" (things that monkey with vectors)

postulate two promotes experimentation. if we can find measurable properties in stuff, then we have scientific truth.

observables, stuff we can observe in stuff. that means that if we heat up a piece of metal, and it turns red, we can watch it happen. we don't just say "it turns red," though, for science's sake we gotta say "we heated it."

so like with postulate one, we heated it, turned it red, now the metal's vector has a different direction.

whatever about vectors, if it was like a person,

you're on vacation, you get a nasty sunburn. you were going to go out to dinner, but you feel so crispy you have to stay home and bathe yourself in aloe.

so the sun operated on you
and you operate on yourself, so you can go back on the beach the next day

so like when we watch the effect something has on another thing, we talk about the things that first thing does to the other thing. those things have special scientific names, observables and operators.

postulate 3 - dynamics

time and distance change states without reprieve

time is like an operator, you know, like one of those postulate two things.

so like if you're doing something, and then you do it later, you're going to do it a little differently.

maybe it's cuz you got arthritis in your fingers now, or you've got like more experience so you do it faster, or you're tired so you mess up,

whatever, you can't do it the same way. you can try to do it like the exact same, you can do it sorta similar, but not completely. you know, it's like it's never perfect.

then let's say you're going out with someone, and then you're still going out with them, but you're in two different places - you've got distance between you, you're not so close together. like a long distance relationship. no matter what you guys say, you're going to act different, and feel differently. and then, when you come back together, things will be different.

my only recent personal example of this long distance relationship thing was screwed up for other reasons, so maybe that's not the best example.

how about in like art galleries, when you're looking at the paintings, you ever noticed how most of 'em look better, the further away you get? it's not always true, and maybe it's not true beyond a certain point, but if you get far enough away that the paintings are fuzzier, they look better.

that's like perspective. you know, you like change your distance away from something and it looks different.

well, quantum physics is like that. if you do some quantum physics stuff at a certain point, and then you like do it later, or in a different place, or something, the experiment will turn out differently. and you can try to make sure you're doing the same experiment, but like, it's pretty hard.

I wrote down somewhere that "reality is getting repeat or predictable measurements", so that seems pretty important (most phrases that start "reality is" are at least meant to be important). the predicting stuff I'll go into a little later. suffice to say that you don't have to have everything exactly the same and like perfectly matched to get the same answer in two experiments. you might have to if you were dealing with super sub atoms or something, but for most stuff we can like see and deal with, mostly similar is good enough.

sort of like this place I used to eat at near my school. it was called zyggy's, and they had those thin burgers and those thin fries - maximum surface to grease ratio.

I used to go in there so often, there was this one lady with short brown hair, clear blue eyes and like some missing joints in her fingers or something - she would always remember me, and ask "the usual?" as she threw down two patties for a double cheeseburger, with ketchup and onions, just the way I liked it.

now those burgers didn't always taste the same. I remember once I ate it, and it was kinda soggy or something. another time, I found a hair in it. that made it taste funny. I think somebody else made it that time.

but most of the time I ate at zyggy's, I ordered the same thing. and even though that lady only cooked for me sometimes, most of the time the burgers tasted the same, at least to me.

too bad the health board closed that place.

postulate four - connection with experiment

the probability of getting green with a hard electron is equal to the square of the component of green

don't let green confuse you here - that's just a way my prof came up with to explain some of this stuff.

hard electron, I think that means that you have one of those real small particles, or like a subparticle, something real small, and like fresh - you know, you haven't like experimented on it or anything yet.

so then let's say you test it, you know like throw it at stuff and heat it up and run it around and whatever, when you're just talking about it, like we are, you can't say for sure what's going to happen, cuz we're just theorizing.

theorizing is kinda like bullshitting - doesn't mean it's not true, it just means you don't have proof yet. plus, it's more fun than like real work, in like a labratory or something - unless you're working with the real expensive equipment, and then you have to be like real famous, or rich or something. theorizing is like physics for poor people, or folks who can't work the machines, or people like me who failed geometry in tenth grade.

but even if you experiment, these particles are real small, and hard to work with, so to like find anything out, you have to use a whole lot of them. everything the prof talked about in class he was using like millions or billions of these things so it's hard to talk about just one. you can say that like with a billion of these things, 500 million did something, and 500 million something else, so for just one, there's like a 50/50 chance it'll do something.

the only way to be able to say like "this one particle is gonna do this one thing" it's like impossible, cuz we haven't figured that out yet. that would be controlling like these really small things - like parts of the universe, and we'd have to be like god or something.

so when we have a single one of these things, like they was postulizing, we're talking about the probability of it being like green or magenta.

I did ask him why those two colours, and basically he was just being weird - you know, like most people would have used black or white, or whatever.

I didn't really understand this one. I asked the professor to explain me why we square the component of green. maybe I should have looked up component, cuz I'm not sure I understand what that is either.

he said one effect of squaring the component of green is cuz, when you square stuff, there's no negative, you know, you like remove the minus sign. so I guess squaring it is a good way to not have to keep track of so much stuff. I don't know if that's the main reason we do it, but it seems like a pretty good one to me. I think he said why we square it, but I don't remember. I think it was something hard to follow.

fifth postulate - collapse

measurements are repeatable

- immediately
something happens to the state vector during a measurement here, pure chance enters the time evolution operator.

uh, this is the big one. this seemed to be the most profound theorum, cuz it was like kali - this blood sucking death goddess of hindu mythology, she's like the woman that makes it all happen - sex death, transformation and stuff. this is like that, a real meaningful theorum.

I didn't want to get this one wrong, so I looked in a few of the books the prof gave us. "collapse" isn't in any of the indexes, and neither is "collapse postulate."


I would look it up on the net, but that's too distracting - if I finish this paper soon, I can go out and get drunk at the green bottle party.

so I'm going to reconstruct the meaning of the collapse postulate from memory, dangerous, fer sure, but as long as you know that, you should like check this info with somebody who knows something before you like write your thesis on it or anything.

collapse is just what it implies. stuff falls down. like the card house bobby brady was building that peter knocked down - by messing with it, he made it fall down, collapse.

it's sorta hard to explain, but that state, where the card house fell down is more like fixed, cuz you can measure it.

the way it works for physics folks is like this: when you measure something, you collapse it. if you have a happy guy going along, and you ask him "how are you?" like, "no, really, how are you?" like you really mean it, then it's hard to answer, and he has to think of something real to say and he probably won't be so happy.

I know I'm like that, and so is my friend duncan. sometimes it sucks to have to be so exact.

and sometimes, when people ask me, "no really, how are you?" I'll say something weird, just to piss 'em off. so that's what it means when you say "pure chance enters" - cuz like when you try to pin stuff down, sometimes it will do weird stuff.

so this is like, in science, you have to realize that you are like breaking the flow when you make stuff answer your questions.

it's funny, when you think about all questions, they're all kinda like that. fixing things down. in conversation, if you ask questions, it can be a bad thing because people sometimes don't want to answer them, especially if it's something meaningful that they didn't want to talk about, or something they weren't going to say.

sometimes it can be good though, cuz it shows you care. in a weird sort of way though, cuz you really only care about what you're asking the question about. maybe you care about the person behind the question, but still you're not letting them do exactly what they want - you're trying to pin them down.

like bugs in the museum.

it's like this thing I heard once, I think from John Alston, comparing a scientist to a zen dude - one looks at a flower, comes to understand its essence by taking it all apart and like buntsen burning pieces, the other learns about it by like brush painting it or something.

quantum physics is more in line with the flow, cuz it recognizes that the best way to understand something is to change it as little as possible, cuz then it wouldn't be the same thing you were studying before:
"if without in any way disturbing a system we can predict with certainty the value of a physical quantity, then there exists an element of reality corresponding to this physical quantity." (from my class notes, probably my prof said it)

so like, if I can tell you that your girlfriend is going to cheat on you man, because I've heard about her, and whatever, I just know it, and let's say you like always date these like unfaithful women and shit, and it like happens, then there exists some reality, and I just pointed it out, and you owe me a beer.

but it kinda sucks that we had to be talking about such a miserable subject anyways.

in quantum physics, before you like figure something out, the thing you're measuring is in like a "superposition" like more than one place at once. that's kinda cool, I mean as an idea, that there's stuff that can be two places at once, and not just on a telephone or tv or something. really two other places. when you measure it is when you collapse it, like it's position isn't so super anymore. and so even though they have this cool superposition thing, quantum physics is still science, trying to find stuff out. trying to answer questions by doing stuff that other people can do to agree with you. I guess that's okay, my prof says that's why we have computers and consumer electronics and stuff, it's cuz of science.

but it's kinda cool, still, cuz that superposition thing, it's alot like gender and stuff. like if you think about it, there's a lot of dudes who kinda look like chicks, or act like 'em, and like the other way around too. and really wild parties can be where people like play with their gender and stuff.

but it's kind of a bummer when you have to decide which gender you are. I guess that's like a part of growing up and stuff, but it would be nicer if we could always be both, kinda, and acknowledge like androgeny and stuff.

cuz people are a little bit of both, you know there's like a little bit of dude and chick in everybody. I once heard that there's like a little bit of penis is a vagina, and like vagina in a penis too, that would kind of make sense, I mean, I guess they're both human or whatever.

anyways, I like study the i ching some, and like everything is kinda like that yin/yang symbol, you know, a little white in dark, dark in light, whatever. so there really isn't a sure answer to anything.

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