Short entertaining videos of quantum mechanics for beginners


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You are being more literal minded than the material requires.

"The electron decided to act differently, as though it was aware it was being watched." 4 1/2 minutes in. How do you think viewers unfamiliar with the material are going to interpret that? Woo-woo.

That is too bad. Using a figurative personification of a purely natural process is legitimate dramatic license. As long as the main point is conveyed, the less than exact means of doing so are acceptable (to me, at least). Your complaint reflects the abysmal condition of science education in the U.S.. If the audience does not know to what degree to take the material figuratively or literally it is due to their miseducuation (primarily).

If the thing were put in a technically correct way, putting an electron detector at one of the slits causes the quantum wave function to collapse before the electron is detected behind the slits. This prevents wave interference between the slits and the detection surface. In other words, the electron behaves as thought ti was aware that it is being watched.

May I recommend that you do not watch video material prepared for non-scientists and confine your reading to proper treatises and journal articles. Then you won't have anything to complain about.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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That is too bad. Using a figurative personification of a purely natural process is legitimate dramatic license. As long as the main point is conveyed, the less than exact means of doing so are acceptable (to me, at least). Your complaint reflects the abysmal condition of science education in the U.S.. If the audience does not know to what degree to take the material figuratively or literally it is due to their miseducuation (primarily).

Now you’re invoking dramatic license? Not that I minded (or disagreed with) your critique of Agora, but talk about a volte-face! Anyway, I’ve had discussions of QM in the context of Objectivist metaphysics, and heard primacy of existence, law of identity etc. challenged by non-physicists who are sure they know more about QM than I do. So when I see a presentation like this I find it annoying. Most of it was really good, btw, until the part at the end.

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The one with 8 parts is even more explicit in advocating a primacy of consciousness idea; he explicitly claims that it was knowledge of the position of whatever was fired through the double slits that changed the outcome, not measuring and either adding or subtracting energy to the particles/electrons that caused the collapse of the wave function. He claims that they even delayed knowing what the count was at the slits and that the outcome was changed depending on whether or not you look at how many electrons/particles were counted at the slits, even days later.

It wasn't too surprising at the end that he claimed this was how he united faith and science in his head (a la Immanuel Kant).

Edited by DavidMcK
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This video makes it sound like woo-woo, suggesting that electrons are aware when they're being watched, rather than being physically affected by the photons from the light being shined on them. In Feynman's lecture (in Six Easy Pieces) he does present it this way to get a laugh, but I took away from it that the observation equipment was physically affecting the result, while this video opens the door to primacy of consciousness.

You are being more literal minded than the material requires. Any "observation" is an interaction of one physical system with another. Consciousness is not involved. If one places a dumb non-sentient electron counter at one slit of a double slit rig, it presence destroys the interference effect. It does not matter if the device is being monitored by a conscious party or not.

If all that runs counter to our intuitions and "common sense" then so much the worse for our intuitions and common sense. If nature could care it would not give a damn about what we are comfortable with.

Ba'al Chatzaf

That material you refer to is part of a video entitled "What the bleep do we know?". The video is well intentioned, because it is trying to wake people up & get them to take some personal responsibility for their own mental health. That is super, but it is also telling them that by mere thought alone, we have the power to alter reality. For instance, that by feeling a negative or a positive way towards water, you will affect the structure of the water. Furthermore, the water that you felt negatively towards will resemble polluted water. Need I go on? It would be interesting if it were true, but I don't think it is. I think, as you say, nature couldn't care less what I was comfortable with. Reality is objective, not subjective.

I agree that "particle" and "wave" are concepts, but so what? I understand "wave" to describe the movement of particles. I am okay with light being a mysterious phenomenon that I don't understand. I don't understand it. But if you say it exhibits the properties of a wave, then I'm going to ask, "What is waving?" How can you have a wave without a medium? The lecturer in the Double Slit Experiment spends his first, say 15 minutes, talking about how by the concept of "wave", we understand particles moving up & down, back & forth, transferring their motion to the particles nearby. But then for the rest of the video, he is talking about waves as if they could somehow exist independently from particles. Conceptually, that makes no sense. Light is a mystery to me, I don't pretend to understand it. But the question, "particle or wave?" doesn't make sense. It is an erroneous simplification of the problem.

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This video makes it sound like woo-woo, suggesting that electrons are aware when they're being watched, rather than being physically affected by the photons from the light being shined on them. In Feynman's lecture (in Six Easy Pieces) he does present it this way to get a laugh, but I took away from it that the observation equipment was physically affecting the result, while this video opens the door to primacy of consciousness.

You are being more literal minded than the material requires. Any "observation" is an interaction of one physical system with another. Consciousness is not involved. If one places a dumb non-sentient electron counter at one slit of a double slit rig, it presence destroys the interference effect. It does not matter if the device is being monitored by a conscious party or not.

If all that runs counter to our intuitions and "common sense" then so much the worse for our intuitions and common sense. If nature could care it would not give a damn about what we are comfortable with.

Ba'al Chatzaf

That material you refer to is part of a video entitled "What the bleep do we know?". The video is well intentioned, because it is trying to wake people up & get them to take some personal responsibility for their own mental health. That is super, but it is also telling them that by mere thought alone, we have the power to alter reality. For instance, that by feeling a negative or a positive way towards water, you will affect the structure of the water. Furthermore, the water that you felt negatively towards will resemble polluted water. Need I go on? It would be interesting if it were true, but I don't think it is. I think, as you say, nature couldn't care less what I was comfortable with. Reality is objective, not subjective.

I agree that "particle" and "wave" are concepts, but so what? I understand "wave" to describe the movement of particles. I am okay with light being a mysterious phenomenon that I don't understand. I don't understand it. But if you say it exhibits the properties of a wave, then I'm going to ask, "What is waving?" How can you have a wave without a medium? The lecturer in the Double Slit Experiment spends his first, say 15 minutes, talking about how by the concept of "wave", we understand particles moving up & down, back & forth, transferring their motion to the particles nearby. But then for the rest of the video, he is talking about waves as if they could somehow exist independently from particles. Conceptually, that makes no sense. Light is a mystery to me, I don't pretend to understand it. But the question, "particle or wave?" doesn't make sense. It is an erroneous simplification of the problem.

Brian:

Good points. It is actually an improper, or false, dichotomy. This is used much too often in politics, science, therapy and statements by Ms. Xray [just kidding dear].

It is important to "call people" on precisely what it is and why it isn't merely restricted to those choices by the person stating the statement that way.

Adam

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Now you're invoking dramatic license? Not that I minded (or disagreed with) your critique of Agora, but talk about a volte-face! Anyway, I've had discussions of QM in the context of Objectivist metaphysics, and heard primacy of existence, law of identity etc. challenged by non-physicists who are sure they know more about QM than I do. So when I see a presentation like this I find it annoying. Most of it was really good, btw, until the part at the end.

Don't watch and you won't be annoyed.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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You are being more literal minded than the material requires.

“The electron decided to act differently, as though it was aware it was being watched.” 4 1/2 minutes in. How do you think viewers unfamiliar with the material are going to interpret that? Woo-woo.

This raised a chuckle (better than Penn+Jilette, anyhow):

Ba'al accusing ND of being overly LITERAL. Ha!

My knowledge of QM is dangerous, but the explanation that the measuring device affects the outcome was always a reasonable one to me. Electrons are hardly billiard balls. You'd guess that would be compensated for, however.

Next thought though, is how do they know? If there is no measuring instrument, then they don't know the 'normal' outcome to compare it with.

Even the background screen is a measuring device.

But, when scientists accept mind-reading particles, we've got a problem.

I predict this conundrum will be solved soon, and physicists of the supernatural will be eating their equations.

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