Elwood Herring
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At 3:00pm on August 9, 2008, Elwood Herring said…
Some thoughts on uncertainty by Elwood Herring

Quantum particles behave in ways that from our everyday experience seem utterly impossible. For instance, quantum particles have wave-like properties and can exist in many places at once. Why the objects we see around us every day—in what physicists call the "classical" world—don't behave this way despite being made of these very same strange quantum particles is a deep question in modern physics.

Most scientists have believed that the instant a quantum object was measured it would "collapse" from being in all the locations it could be, to just one location like a classical object. However, in 2006 Andrew Jordan, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester, together with Alexander Korotkov at the University of California, Riverside, spelled out how to exploit a quantum quirk to accomplish a feat long thought impossible, and this week a research team at the University of California at Santa Barbara has tested the theory, proving it correct.

Jordan proposed that it would be possible to weakly measure the particle continuously, partially collapsing the quantum state, and then "unmeasure" it, causing the particle to revert back to its original quantum form, before it collapsed.

(The above text copied from http://www.rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=3220 )

So, as I see it, it's like this: you start off with four types of people, the first set contains people who reckon they understand Quantum Theory (QT), the second set don't, the third set only think they understand, and the final set are pretty sure they will never understand it.

Now all four of these types exhibit a certain amount of uncertainty, even (by necessity) the ones who think they are certain. So you must relabel these sets as 1) people who think they are certain they know, 2) people who believe they are certain they don't know, then 3) and 4) who are uncertain about knowing and not knowing, respectively.

The problems arise when some new data is discovered concerning QT, such as the article mentioned above. This has the effect of creating much more uncertainty across the board, realigning the boundaries between those who are certain they are certain, and those that are not, etc. In effect, this creates a certain amount of superposition of uncertainties about whether to accept the new data, and crucially, whether they can be certain about it. There will inevitably be some people who will reject this new information outright, but there will more likely be a greater proportion who will be uncertain about it, creating a feedback loop of ever greater uncertainty and therefore separating the previous superposition back to more or less the original state, by way of "uncollapse" as stated in the article. With me so far?

The upshot of all this is that the theory of QT will always be intrinsically uncertain, being by its very nature contrary to common sense. The more experiments are done, and the more facts are learned, the less certain anyone can be that it is inevitably understandable. So the only way to understand QT is actually to not do any research into it at all, and also to destroy all data so far collected into the entire phenomenon, then there can be no superposition of individuals in various states of uncertainty about it. In effect, the only way we can ever understand QT is to not understand it at all. That's the only way we can ever be absolutely certain.

... I think...



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