1240: Quantum Mechanics

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Quantum Mechanics
You can also just ignore any science assertion where 'quantum mechanics' is the most complicated phrase in it.
Title text: You can also just ignore any science assertion where 'quantum mechanics' is the most complicated phrase in it.


This comic plays with the fact that quantum mechanics is a very complex subject that is frequently misapplied by laymen. Many of the phenomena studied in quantum mechanics are counter to common sense and can only be expressed in complex mathematics. Yet, since the field is fundamental to our understanding of reality, it is commonly cited to support broad sweeping philosophical generalizations. This practice can be seen in the real world by listening to a discussion between first-year philosophy students or attending the Burning Man Festival.

In this comic, Cueball uses quantum mechanics to argue that dogs must have souls. This is a reference to the concept of an 'observer' in quantum physics, as well as theories about the collapse of wave functions. However the vast majority of people do not have a sufficient understanding of quantum mechanics to judge if his statement is correct. Nevertheless, Randall's message is, you don't need to understand quantum mechanics to judge the statement. No matter what the sentence is, it is almost certainly incorrect, so "you can safely ignore" it.

The title text makes a reservation for scientific statements that really involve quantum mechanics but only if "quantum mechanics" is not the most complicated term in the sentence. This is saying that this problem even extends past discussions about philosophy to science assertions. However, you can tell when a scientist is correctly applying quantum mechanics, because, to do so, they will have to use phrases more complicated than "quantum mechanics." In other words, it is the nature of quantum mechanics that, in order to correctly apply it to explain anything, you will have to use very complicated phrases.

Of course, since "quantum mechanics" is the most complicated term in the above paragraphs, you may safely ignore them.


[Cueball and Ponytail stand facing each other, talking. Cueball has a dog on a leash.]
Cueball: But dogs can observe the world, which means that according to quantum mechanics they must have souls.
Protip: You can safely ignore any sentence that includes the phrase "According to quantum mechanics".


Niels Bohr's quote: If quantum mechanics hasn't profoundly shocked you, you haven't understood it yet.

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To me, it's not about "probably wrong" it's about irrelevant. QM itself says nothing about anything but quantum (particle component) probable vector(s). Recent success of Bayesian probability in these regards implies more about lack of "common sense" understanding or meaning, than about subjectivity of universe (as if there was a difference?). QM is not really knowledge in itself, it's just illuminating math (in a very limited realm). not wrong, just fuzzy Monteletourneau (talk) 05:39, 1 August 2013 (UTC)

Who is CueBall talking to? It is not Meg, unless she dyed her hair.

Ponytail -- 14:33, 19 July 2013 (UTC)

Are "almost" against common sense? I see you don't know much about quantum mechanics. In quantum mechanics, common sense is about as usefull as in Alice's Wonderland. Possibly less. And that bit about going through the wall is used in Flash memories. -- Hkmaly (talk) 14:36, 20 July 2013 (UTC)

Sure. You can see that people do not understand anything about something because you think you know a lot about that something. WRONG! I know exactly what I was talking about and "almost" was a word that I did not chose lightly.cinico (talk) 13:48, 22 July 2013 (UTC)

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect It applies to us all - the more you think you know the more wrong you are, the more you actually know, the less right you think you are. Monteletourneau (talk) 05:39, 1 August 2013 (UTC)

"You can safely ignore any sentence that includes the phrase 'according to quantum mechanics'" Including, of course, that one. Tbrosz (talk) 16:13, 20 July 2013 (UTC)

awe some Monteletourneau (talk) 05:39, 1 August 2013 (UTC)

"Albert Einstein being famously wrong", isn't that a bit subjective? Although there is little evidence supporting the hidden variable theory, it is not out of the question to consider it, Einstein might've been right you know. -- 21:02, 20 July 2013 (UTC)

Einstein was not wrong, he just was searching to unify relativity mechanics with quantum mechanics. That sentence "God does not play dice" is often misunderstood and in wrong context here. I did remove it.--Dgbrt (talk) 21:27, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
I don't know about ANY evidence supporting Hidden variable theory, on the other hand I heard that Bell inequalities were experimentally tested and results are against Einstein. Wikipedia itself states that "Most advocates of the hidden variables idea ... are ready to give up locality". Einstein assumed that the principle of locality was necessary, and that there could be no violations of it. Are you seriously saying that someone managed to put their subjective position into that many articles on wikipedia? ; The point of "wrong content" may be more valid, especially considering that Einstein probably was able to understand quantum mechanics, just didn't believe it. It would be very interresting what he would say about the issue if he wouldn't died 9 years before the Bell inequalities were formulated. -- Hkmaly (talk) 09:21, 22 July 2013 (UTC)
Exactly! The EPR paper does not claim that QM is wrong, it just points out the (to Einstein paradoxical) consequences of entanglement. In the same way you can claim that Schroedinger said QM was wrong, because of his famous thought experiment involving an angry cat (he made up the example to criticize the kopenhagen interpretation of "his" wave mechanics). 18:02, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

I recall hearing an argument along these lines... Something about the "fact" that a dog observing a quantum wave form will cause it to collapse, thus the observer is "conscious", and thus has a "soul". How exactly you explain all the misnomers in that set of assumptions, let alone test the hypothesis to begin with, I've no clue. Can we train monkeys to read particle detectors? And what consequence might this have for Schrodinger's poor cat? ;) 06:46, 21 July 2013 (UTC)

I'm not sure how they managed to actually prove dogs can collapse quantum wave form, but I'm definitely sure that if dog can do that cat can too. Remember that Schrödinger's cat was THOUGH experiment, we don't know if someone really tried it (unless Lewis Carol did). -- Hkmaly (talk) 09:21, 22 July 2013 (UTC)

Dog = soul, cat does not, it's proven all right! Isn't it right there in the equation? I thought S = soul??? Besides, the bible (NO the devil) tol' me so. Monteletourneau (talk) 05:39, 1 August 2013 (UTC)

Is this not a reference to the Einstein quote that a mouse wouldn't change the universe by observing it? (In German: "Ich kann mir nicht denken, daß eine Maus das Universum verändert, dadurch, daß sie es betrachtet") (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Dogs have souls in Christian philosophical tradition, just not immortal ones. Most Christian philosophers follow a loosely Aristotelian philosophy which says that all living things have some kind of soul: plants have vegetative souls, animals have sensitive souls, and people have rational souls. Thus this sentence ought to be corrected: "the concept of most of the large monotheistic religions [is that] only humans have been created in the image of God and thus only they have souls." (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Fixed as of this comment's date 17:36, 6 March 2018 (UTC)