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Where is that atom?

By bmetzler in News
Wed Feb 23, 2000 at 07:27:08 AM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)
/etc

The New York Times has an article on the phenomenon called decoherence, or, why the rules quantum mechanics can also allow for atoms to exist in a known concrete position.


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Where is that atom? | 22 comments (22 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
rusty may have voted -1, 0, or 1... (none / 0) (#1)
by rusty on Tue Feb 22, 2000 at 10:01:32 AM EST

rusty voted 1 on this story.

rusty may have voted -1, 0, or 1 on this story

Quantum paradoxes are cool. This is my ex-physics student showing through. :-)

____
Not the real rusty

Example? (none / 0) (#13)
by Dast on Wed Feb 23, 2000 at 02:33:26 PM EST

What little I've read on Quantum Mechanics has been really cool. What would be a quantum paradox?

[ Parent ]
Quantum paradoxes (none / 0) (#14)
by rusty on Wed Feb 23, 2000 at 02:54:28 PM EST

Well, one would be the Shroedinger's cat thought experiment mentioned in the article. The idea that the cat can be alive and dead at the same time, sort of.

From what I recall of my nuclear & particle physics class, back in the day, the basic quantum paradox is that when you get down to the really small things (electrons, say), they aren't exactly in any one place, the way we'd expect them to be. The electron, for example, exists in a sort of probability cloud around a nucleus, until you detect it. And it isn't a matter of us just not knowing where it is until we detect it. It really isn't in any one place, until you detect it there (and then of course, it's automatically somewhere else due to the interaction). The electron, as a particle, is really only a potential particle, when it's not being detected. As in, if you stick a detector into a given region where the electron is allowed to exist, you have an X% chance of finding it there.

The act of finding a particle, and making it "exist" in a particular location, is the "decoherence" that the article is about. The particle no longer exists as a probability field, but as a concrete (err, sort of) particle that you just detected. And according to QM, this only happens when you observe it. So the problem Einstein had was, how come things can still exist in one place, when their particles could be anywhere?

Ok, now I'm summarizing the article. It seems to be down at the momnent, but read it when it comes back up. My question is, we always hear "The Quantum Paradox", but is it a paradox, really? Or just a mode of reality that we're not used to dealing with?

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: Quantum paradoxes (none / 0) (#18)
by dvwood on Thu Feb 24, 2000 at 08:02:49 PM EST

Why are we focusing on where the particles are/are not when it's the nucleus that determines where an object is?

The particles can't be anywhere, they have to be somewhere really close, right? Kind of like an aura around a person. Or an RNA strand somewhere inside a cell.

D
Just visitin'
[ Parent ]
Re: Quantum paradoxes (none / 0) (#19)
by rusty on Fri Feb 25, 2000 at 12:49:41 AM EST

The nucleus is made up of "particles" too. Protons, neutrons, same deal. They just seem more stable because they're bigger. Of course they're made of quarks, which are also (maybe) subject to these rules. Basically, the rules just are. You can apply them to anything. But for things larger than a certain (very tiny) size/energy, the effects of applying quantum corrections to the newtonian calculations are ludicrously insignificant. It's just not worth doing them. But my example of the electron was just an example.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Dead cats in boxes. (none / 0) (#20)
by Dast on Fri Feb 25, 2000 at 04:47:36 PM EST

Ahhh. I've heard about the deat cat in a box problem. I didn't think it was a paradox because there is no such thing as true isolation (at least in a cardboard box, anyway).

[ Parent ]
Articles on Quantum Mechanics == go... (none / 0) (#2)
by techt on Tue Feb 22, 2000 at 10:49:04 AM EST

techt voted 0 on this story.

Articles on Quantum Mechanics == good.
These types of articles are nearly always at least somewhat interesting.

Articles from New York Times web site == bad.
NYT wants to track me. Do you know how many hotmail accounts I've had to open and forget just to get by this type of tracking? And NYT always figures out eventually that there's no one home at that address. (The account gets disabled.) Blah.
--
Proud member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation!
Are You? http://www.eff.org/support/joineff.html

NYTimes bypass (none / 0) (#15)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Feb 23, 2000 at 09:59:48 PM EST

(1) I do most of my browsing from the public library. Almost inevitably, someone has read the NYT before me and their cookie still exists on the public boxes that only get booted once every blue moon.

(2) Is NYT one of the sites where the cypherpunks/cypherpunks login/password works? I'm constantly amazed by (a) just how many sites cypherpunks gets me into and (b) just how many other hackers don't know about it.

[ Parent ]
Re: NYTimes bypass (none / 0) (#21)
by techt on Sat Feb 26, 2000 at 04:42:50 PM EST

The cyperpunks/cyperpunks login used to work at NYT, but they got smart to it.
--
Proud member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation!
Are You? http://www.eff.org/support/joineff.html
[ Parent ]
Re: NYTimes bypass (none / 0) (#22)
by techt on Sat Feb 26, 2000 at 04:44:58 PM EST

Oops.

s/cyperpunks/cypherpunks

Damn "h" key needs to be pounded harder than most of the rest.
--
Proud member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation!
Are You? http://www.eff.org/support/joineff.html
[ Parent ]
i think i've seen some of this befo... (none / 0) (#6)
by rajivvarma on Tue Feb 22, 2000 at 12:38:28 PM EST

rajivvarma voted 0 on this story.

i think i've seen some of this before but im not sure...

Rajiv Varma
Mirror of DeCSS.

once again, too short. Although it... (none / 0) (#4)
by ebunga on Tue Feb 22, 2000 at 01:22:47 PM EST

ebunga voted 0 on this story.

once again, too short. Although it is rather interesting. I don't care either way.

Pleeaase! Put more conversation ho... (none / 0) (#5)
by ramses0 on Tue Feb 22, 2000 at 02:01:31 PM EST

ramses0 voted 1 on this story.

Pleeaase! Put more conversation hooks in your story idea... This would be really cool to talk about, but just doesn't feel right to post on it's own. :^(=
[ rate all comments , for great justice | sell.com ]

elaborate why this is significant... (none / 0) (#10)
by Philipp on Tue Feb 22, 2000 at 03:16:36 PM EST

Philipp voted 0 on this story.

elaborate why this is significant

alias kn 'killall -9 netscape-communicator'

Not quite enough to this story for ... (none / 0) (#8)
by derick on Tue Feb 22, 2000 at 05:10:20 PM EST

derick voted 0 on this story.

Not quite enough to this story for me. I'm just not into reading about quantum stuff.

This is a science story, not a tech... (none / 0) (#7)
by xah on Tue Feb 22, 2000 at 07:53:25 PM EST

xah voted 1 on this story.

This is a science story, not a technology one. But I vote to post it because it is just so compelling. I still think quantum theory is bonkers, however. :-)

good stuff.. I know its not technol... (none / 0) (#3)
by joeyo on Tue Feb 22, 2000 at 09:41:26 PM EST

joeyo voted 1 on this story.

good stuff.. I know its not technology, but I think all geeks should know some quantum theory. Heck, I'm taking a quantum class right now and I hardly understand it!

--
"Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." -- demi

This was interesting. ... (none / 0) (#11)
by neonman on Tue Feb 22, 2000 at 11:05:42 PM EST

neonman voted 0 on this story.

This was interesting. Still, it is a little old.. This appeared in the nytimes and then on slashdot at the beginning of last week. there is also the issue of science article submissions. What do we want to do with these?
_________________________
Aaron Grogan
aaron@stufflikethat.org
http://stufflikethat.org/

Re: This was interesting.... (none / 0) (#12)
by rusty on Wed Feb 23, 2000 at 12:04:03 PM EST

I generally like science articles. I need to get off my lazy duff and make a "science" topic icon, though. I do wish there was more commentary with this article, but I thought it was interesting anyway.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Re: This was interesting.... (none / 0) (#17)
by bmetzler on Thu Feb 24, 2000 at 12:25:36 PM EST

I need to get off my lazy duff and make a "science" topic icon, though.

Yes, you do. Especially because I like science too. Maybe I'll make one, what size should it be?

I do wish there was more commentary with this article, but I thought it was interesting anyway.

Lazy me. Not sure what my problem was that day, but I think I was in a hurry. Oh, maybe Windows was about to crash, yeah, that was it. :) Anyways, in the future, I'll do better to get more commentary.

-Brent
www.bmetzler.org - it's not just a personal weblog, it's so much more.
[ Parent ]
Hmm.. Try looking behind the couch?... (none / 0) (#9)
by Perpetual Newbie on Tue Feb 22, 2000 at 11:42:26 PM EST

Perpetual Newbie voted 1 on this story.

Hmm.. Try looking behind the couch?

Re: Where is that atom? (4.00 / 1) (#16)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu Feb 24, 2000 at 01:11:26 AM EST

If you link to NYT stories with partners replacing the www in the URL then it does not ask you for a username and password to view it.

http://partners.nytimes.com/library/national/science/022200sci-quantum-mechanics.html



Where is that atom? | 22 comments (22 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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