Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Just Sayin'


A harmonic oscillator in classical mechanics (A-B) and quantum mechanics (C-H). In (A-B), a ball, attached to a spring (gray line), oscillates back and forth. In (C-H), wavefunction solutions to the Time-Dependent Schrodinger Equation are shown for the same potential. The horizontal axis is position, the vertical axis is the real part (blue) or imaginary part (red) of the wavefunction. (C,D,E,F) are stationary states (energy eigenstates), which come from solutions to the Time-Independent Schrodinger Equation. (G-H) are non-stationary states, solutions to the Time-Dependent but not Time-Independent Schrodinger Equation. (G) is a randomly-generated superposition of the four states (C-F). H is a "coherent state" ("Glauber state") which somewhat resembles the classical state B.

Some generous guy named Steve Byrnes contributed this gif to Wikipedia's entry on quantum physics, which I finally looked up today and, sure enough, it's all about math. Except when it's not.

...according to the theory of quantum decoherence, the parallel universes will never be accessible to us. This inaccessibility can be understood as follows: Once a measurement is done, the measured system becomes entangled with both the physicist who measured it and a huge number of other particles, some of which are photons flying away towards the other end of the universe; in order to prove that the wave function did not collapse one would have to bring all these particles back and measure them again, together with the system that was measured originally. This is completely impractical, but even if one could theoretically do this, it would destroy any evidence that the original measurement took place (including the physicist's memory).


  1. I will sleep much more soundly at night after reading this. This really gets to the heart of "The Oneness."