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Posted by: DudeDude

Posting time: 3.8 years ago on

Last edit time: never edited.

Archived on: 2/12/2017 1:51:00 AM

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**34** upvotes, **0** downvotes (**100%** upvoted it)

- Jivicus [O]

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[–] Rostin 1 points 32 points 33 points (+33|-1) ago

I'm not going to try to answer your question, but I still want to make a general observation about it. Things that would shock laymen may not be the same things that shock professional scientists like Niels Bohr. The former have fewer expectations to violate about how nature "ought" to behave. On the other hand, Niels Bohr was there in the beginning, when all the old certainties about Newtonian physics were crumbling. Unlike you, he didn't grow up watching Star Trek and Discovery Channel documentaries in which "quantum entanglement" and "wave particle duality" were talked about as settled fact. Much that seemed shocking to him may not to you because you've been continuously exposed to it for years, at least superficially.

[–] The_Royal_Nothing 0 points 9 points 9 points (+9|-0) ago

This is exactly the answer i came in here wanting to see. when my 24 hours are up i will come back and up goat you.

[–] Maxus 0 points 5 points 5 points (+5|-0) ago

It genuinely depends on your level of interest and how far you are will take your studying of the field. You say you are not a scientist, but I believe everyone is at heart, so I'm going to respond accordingly.

To clarify the meaning of Bohr's statement, it was aimed at addressing the fact that most people did not understand it, at least the way Bohr did. So if you want that profound shock of understanding, you will need to learn the applicable math and physics. Any conceptual understanding of Quantum Mechanics would place you into Bohr's class of those who 'haven't understood it yet'.

If you want this understanding of Quantum Mechanics you need a solid grasp of Calculus, Differential Equations, and some Linear Algebra. Then you can get this understanding of Quantum Mechanics by going through Griffiths' Intro to Quantum.

I did my undergrad at Cornell, and I can honestly say it took three separate courses in Quantum before I 'understood' it and even then it took years of research before I felt profoundly shocked by its nature. For all of those courses, we used the Griffiths book above. Do every problem. Do not look up answers. You will know when you are right. Every time you struggle through an actual problem, it brings you closer to that moment of profound shock. It is our experience of Quantum Mechanics that is so profoundly shocking, but that experience can only be had through the mathematics.

Anytime you watch a TV special on physics, there is a massive gap between the conceptual explanation and the physical reality. This has become even more apparent as subject material becomes increasingly obscure, both mathematically and conceptually.

There are plenty of online resources for learning Quantum at the conceptual level, but if your are TRULY interested in experiencing this "profound shock" then you start going through Griffiths. If you are actually interested in this then PM me and I can send you pdfs of any materials you will need!

[–] vudu 0 points 1 points 1 points (+1|-0) ago

What is the shock itself? Does it bring a simplification to the existing systems and somehow join a couple things? You mentioned the gap between explanation and reality? Does it help bridge this?

[–] Maxus 0 points 3 points 3 points (+3|-0) ago

I would say a lot of the "shock" is simply the feeling of being able to solve problems in Quantum Mechanics with the same level of intuition that you would solve a problem in Classical mechanics. Which is to say that you understand the behavior of the atomic and subatomic as well as you understand the motion of a baseball. There is so much math involved in Quantum Mechanics that the gap between explanation and reality is equivalent to the gap in ability to explain using English (or any language) vs. pure mathematics. So the answer is yes, it does help bridge this gap. When you can solve nearly any problem in Quantum Mechanics, you have reached a point where your internalization of the mathematics of quantum mechanics is similar to the internalization many people have of something like projectile motion. At that point, the reality (the mathematics) will lend itself to many natural analogous concepts that can be easily digested by the masses.

So keep that in mind when I say this in English, when really it is me trying to convey the nature of the mathematics of QM:

The shock that comes along with Quantum Mechanics is usually associated with the nature of observation. The uncertainty principle tells us that the position and speed of an object can never be determined to 100% accuracy simultaneously. We also learn from QM that observing a system without effecting its state is impossible. Bohr's shock was most definitely referring to obtaining a full understanding of the implications of these two concepts. At the time when Bohr made his famous statement, those two concepts were uprooting everything we had previously understood about nature.

It is very hard to formulate real 'answers' to the questions of OP and those floating around this thread. I'm trying to explain but as I re-read some of what I've said my explanations have been fairly non-linear and I apologize. The answer at the end of the day, to all of these questions, is that you need to devour the math to even scratch the surface of the physics. Anything that you hear explained in physics without math is usually a hugely dumbed-down explanation made for New York Times Bestselling books and NOVA specials. This was Bohr's way of saying -check this crazy math out underlying nature, if you aren't shocked by the implications it has then you don't understand what you're looking at-

[–] Doc_ 0 points 5 points 5 points (+5|-0) ago

I recently read Brian Cox's The Quantum Universe: Everything that can happen does happen, but anything he writes is quite accessible for people who know nothing about it, like me. It gives a pretty simple explanation of loads of the phenomena without getting too maths-y, including stuff like Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and the Higg's Boson and why it's important. Personally I'd recommend it, but if you don't like reading then this is a pretty good explanation.

[–] relative_iterator 0 points 1 points 1 points (+1|-0) ago

I think this was a pretty good documentary for a basic understanding. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBrsWPCp_rs

Maybe start there and if you enjoy it, keep watching more documentaries on youtube, they have a lot. Just search different terms you hear and you'll find things.

[–] alternative_heretik 0 points 1 points 1 points (+1|-0) ago

The Cosmic Onion by Frank Close! It's a fantastic read and thorough exploration of cosmology + quantum physics. While it doesn't go into the depth a text would, it reads like a story and has diagrams that will have you understanding things on at least the second read!

[–] ChadPUA 0 points 0 points 0 points (+0|-0) ago

He means that the universe isn't purely deterministic, as classical physics suggests, but instead it is probabilistic: there is an inherent random aspect to quantum mechanics.

[–] eddotman 0 points 0 points 0 points (+0|-0) ago

Quantum mechanics is rooted pretty deeply in math, which kind of sucks because it's often hard to put into layman's terms without fudging details. That said, let me try to illustrate a 'shocking' example that's not fudged too hard.

If you have some particle confined to a small space, you can mathematically treat it like a wave to correctly predict some things, such as its most probable location within that space. You can even arrive at these results just by drawing some diagrams (in sufficiently simple cases), where the particle is represented by a wave that is bounded by the edges of whatever container it's inside. If the container has edges or obstacles, the wave that you're drawing 'scatters' and interferes with itself - much in the way that ripples on a lake do. If you superimpose all these scattered waves, you'll arrive at the overall picture that gives the correct predictions for the properties of the particle.

Here's the part that's really weird: In order to draw this picture of a wave (which gives correct predictions), we sort of imagine a wave that moves around and scatters off of nearby stuff, and travels back and interferes with itself. But somehow, such a wave can predict where a particle is located. That is to say, it's not as though the particle itself was bouncing around and interfering with stuff - it's just some wave that we drew - yet, somehow, it seems to predict reality.

Here's something even weirder: We can use those same interfering waves to predict things like probabilities of events that haven't even happened yet (e.g. absorption of a photon). It's really counterintuitive that some picture we draw of waves bouncing around - where the waves represent an event happening - can predict the probability of whether that event would even happen to begin with.

[–] DudeDude [S] 0 points 0 points 0 points (+0|-0) ago

Thanks so much everyone! There seems to be plenty here to get me started and take me further if I can. Thankyou!