Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This semester of physical chemistry deals with quantum chemistry, so naturally we discussed some of the philosophical aspects of science. My professor said that nobody really understands quantum mechanics…

Professor: … even Feynman said so in his famous lecture. It has also been said that “if you are not completely confused by quantum mechanics, you do not understand it.” (Wheeler)
Me: Surely, Feynman understood the technical aspects of quantum mechanics; what he didn’t understand was the metaphysics. But that has an explanation so simple and so elegant that not even science could express it.
Professor: And how would you explain it?
Me: Floating point numbers have a large but limited dynamic range. When we approach the extremely large or the infinitesimally small, we run into problems. Quantum mechanics is simply an out-of-bounds error in God’s pocket calculator of the universe.
Professor: Of course you are free to speculate about these things, but when we’re in a science classroom…
Me: … we talk about science. On the astronomical scale, we have anomalies such as dark matter. On the subatomic scale, we have quantization of time, space, matter, energy, and everything. These are clearly manifestations of an inability to represent the very large or the very small…

… perhaps when God designs version 2.0 of His universal software He’d use bignums instead of floats. Now wouldn’t that make the world a better place?

One Comment

  1. paulwratt says:

    or maybe we need to progress “up to” 101-Quantum Mechanics for non-gods: realizing we have been living in the “appendix”, welcome to the greater universe, you are part of beta of HIS universal software (Homogenized Interstellar Simulator), please avoid destroying solar-type systems, as “the humans” may be among them

    I think what your professor was trying to was, he did not understand quantum mechanics, and from his replys I would suspect it is due to his inability to reconcile that and god (or gods construction)

    we are only just beginning to see what is available, let alone “understand it”, some of the things we are looking at (or trying to) do not even have names yet

    This inability to explain anomalies at “really large” or “really small” scales is due to our inability to see the patterns they are describing, and part of that is due to our stand point, and that directly relates to our (non) relationship with “insert your name for creator and/or maintainer here”

    what we do know about quantum mechanics is that there are “strange things happening” that are related to “strange influences”. What I can tell you is that once there is a beginning of a perceived understanding of what it is that maintains these “strange things” and “strange influences”, then the true “inability” to understand the universe will become apparent, in the same way as the law of gravity pertains to our judicial system