quantum crap


Quantum theory is known largely for being unknown — known, in other words, for how it departs from the world of common experience, how it cannot be explained or grasped, how it defies reason and intuition, and how it toys with the laws of classical physics. It is a science of head-scratching. Matter appears in two places at once. Light acts as a wave and a particle (both, and neither). Multiple possibilities superimpose on the same moment. Particles separated by miles seem directly connected. Electrons seem to act differently when they are watched up close. For most of us, these bewilderments must be taken nearly as an article of faith, bolstered by the men and women of science who explain the phenomena with broad strokes and clever thought experiments. To refine these illustrations into the actual theory is to point down a path — out of the cave, up the mountain, down the rabbit hole; take your pick — that few can follow. As a consequence, the fact that the universe is so mysterious has been more influential in popular culture than any of the particular mysteries that scientists have described. What has been really compelling is the credibility quantum physics lends to the bizarre. Nearly any pseudo-scientific craziness can seem to fall under the field’s umbrella by virtue of the gap separating it from common sense.

more from Jeremy Axelrod at The New Atlantis here.