Texas Defense Monitor

QM Basics 1 : Weird Science

"QM Basics 1 : Weird Science"'

<< Dallas,Texas,DEC 8 2023 >> Here at TDM we have always been fascinated by Quantum Mechanics (QM) and its military implications. QM is without a doubt the weirdest and most counter intuitive branch of science. Here at TDM, we are also "mathphobes". Our motto is "When the math gets tough, cheat". So we are at a natural disadvantage on this subject. That being said, once you really look at QM there are properties and rules that are understandable. You just have to have a new definition of what "normal" is. In this series of articles we will often use simplified and inexact examples to explain the concept. We will also often use analogies. These analogies are often not 100% mathematically or even physically correct, but are used to convey a general concept. So, welcome to the weird science of QM. For most of the last 100 years, physicists have searched for the holy grail. That is the reference model and the equations that describe "the universe". This is oftern called the Unified Field Theory (UFT). The Unified Field Theory, is the "Theory of Everything," it tries combine and reconcile the fundamental forces of nature into a single, coherent picture (and math) . It tries to create a unified understanding of the universe by integrating quantum mechanics, newtonian mecahnics, and general relativistic mechanics, into one general framework. Regrettably, this hasnt happened. But what we DO have are three separate models (or frameworks) that are quite valid in each of their domains. We will categorize these frameworks by the physycists who discovered them. The big 3 are. 1) The domain of Einstein. This is the physics of very fast (speed of light) and very large (Stars,black holes, etc). This theory also describes space and time as actually being the same fabric, called "space-time". This is the realm for the hyper massive and hyper fast. 2) The domain of Newton. This is the world in which we live. This is reality as we observe it. The apple falls, the plane flies, we all age. Space and time seem separate factors. This is the macroscopic world. 3) The domain of Heisenberg. This is the quantum world. The world of the very, very small. We are talking about the size of an atom or less. It is so small we have few tools to observe its behavior. This world is defined by uncertainty. You never really get the same experimental result twice. As humans, we are comfortable with the concept of the future being "uncertain". Oddly, in QM, the PAST IS ALSO UNCERTAIN. Weird ! We will examine this later in the article series. The first framework is beyond the scope of this article. Suffice to say unless you are into building a nuclear reactor or going to another planet at near light speed, or time travel. It really is not relevant. The second framework we already know, as its the world in which we live. The third however, is important, useful, and again we say just plain weird. One last note. In this article series you see the words Quantum Mechanics (QM) and Quantum Field Theory (QFT) used frequently . QM is is the physics of how a single sub atomic particle behaves. Its position, momentum, energy levels,etc. QFT is the broader physics that decribes how all the particles in the universe interact with each other. QFT is the forest, QM is the tree. So lets dive into QM. Who discovered it ? That old sage Albert Einstein. Albert Einstein, one of the most renowned physicists of the 20th century, played a crucial role in shaping our understanding of the universe. While he is widely celebrated for his contributions to the theory of relativity, his relationship with quantum physics was marked by both fascination and down right horror. In the early 1900sas quantum physics began to take shape, Einstein found himself uncomfortable with some of its fundamental concepts. Especially the "probabilistic" nature of the universe. He is infamously quoted as saying that "God does not play dice with the universe." This one of the few times the old sage was incorrect. Even he had trouble accepting the complex and often counterintuitive nature of quantum mechanics. You will see the word "counterintuitive"used many times in this series of articles. Thats because we are getting tired of saying weird. So basically Einstein was the first to observe the strange and improbable experimental evidence of QM. He eventually becamefrustrated QM with it handed it off to others. Not withstanding Einstein's reservations, quantum physics has proven to be a remarkably successful and accurate model for understanding the behavior of particles at the atomic and sub atomic level. Over the years, experimental evidence has consistently supported the predictions of quantum physics, and it has become an integral part of modern physics. We want to emphasize this point : strange as QM seems it HAS PASSED EVERY SCIENTIFIC ATTEMPT TO DISPROVE IT. It is probably the MOST tested theory in existence. Werner Heisenberg, made groundbreaking contributions to the development of quantum physics in the early 1900s.He is best known for formulating the "uncertainty principle," a fundamental concept of QM that asserts the inherentlimitations in simultaneously measuring certain pairs of properties, such as position and momentum, with absolute precision. Published in 1927, the uncertainty principle revolutionized the philosophical and mathematical basis of quantum mechanics. This view challenged the deterministic worldview of classical physics. Heisenberg's work laid the foundation for a new understanding of the subatomic realm, emphasizing the probabilistic and indeterministic nature of particle behavior. Heisenberg's amazing insights and mathematical formalisms played a crucial role in shaping our modern understanding of QM. He won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1932. "Uncertainty", TDM willexplore this important QM property in a later article. Erwin Schrödinger, was another key figure in the development of QM. Again, during the early 1900s, Schrödinger made significant contributions to the theoretical framework of quantum mechanics, and he is perhaps best known for his formulation of understanding QM through wave mechanics. In 1926, Schrödinger published a series of profound papers in which he introduced a wave equation that described the behavior of quantum systems, including electrons in atoms. This equation, now known as the Schrödinger equation, provided a mathematical foundation for understanding the particle-wave duality of subatomic particles and became a central element in the field of QM. With this equation we could not just observe quantum behavior, we could predict it (with uncertainty ;-) ). Schrödinger's wave mechanics and Werner Heisenberg's matrix mechanics were actually shown to be equivalent, demonstrating the unity of the two different approaches. Schrödinger's work also led to the development of the probabilistic interpretation of the wave function. His equation allows a probabilistic prediction of finding aparticle in a particular location, a specific momentum, etc. Physicists were no longer clueless about where or how fast a particle was moving or where it COULD be. Schrödinger also was very important in defining the QM property of "superposition". TDM will explore this very fascinating and important property in a later article. For his amazing work, Erwin Schrödinger was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1933, sharing it with Paul Dirac, for his formulation of the Schrödinger equation. Before moving on to QM in Military Affairs, we will take a deeper dive into 4 QM properties that are most relevant. These are only a sub set of the many facinating QM properties, but these 4 are the most relevant to Military Affairs. The big 4 are : A) Particle/Wave Duality. B) The Uncertainty Principle. C) Particle Superposition. D) Particle Entanglement. TDM says buckle up your seatbelt, this is gonna be a wild & crazy ride ! References Stephen Hawking & Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design, Bantam Books,2012 Jakob Schwictenburg, No-Nonsense Quantum Mechanics, No-Nonsense Books,2020