Quantum of solace: even physicists are continue to scratching their heads | Letters

Your editorial on quantum physics (30 August) starts with a quotation from Richard Feynman – “nobody understands quantum mechanics” – and then states “that is no extended true”. One particular of us (Norman Dombey) was taught quantum idea by Feynman at Caltech the other (John Charap) was taught by Paul Dirac at Cambridge. Quantum concept was devised by numerous physicists which include Dirac, Erwin Schrödinger and Werner Heisenberg in the 1920s and 1930s, and Dirac produced their perform relativistic.

It is absurd to say that quantum mechanics is now recognized whilst it was not 50 many years in the past. There have of program been advances in our knowledge of quantum phenomena, but the conceptual framework of quantum physics stays as it was. The illustrations you give of nuclear crops, medical scans and lasers involve easy programs of quantum mechanics that have been recognized 50 yrs ago.

The main advance in the comprehension of quantum physics in this time period is a theorem of John Bell from Cern, which states that quantum physics simply cannot be regional – that is to say that it permits phenomena to be correlated at arbitrarily huge distances from just about every other. This has now been demonstrated experimentally and qualified prospects to what is recognized as quantum entanglement, which is significant in the advancement of quantum computers. But even these thoughts ended up mentioned by Albert Einstein and coworkers in 1935.

The editorial goes on to say that “subatomic particles do not vacation a route that can be plotted”. If that were being so, how can protons vacation at the Large Hadron Collider at Cern and hit their focus on so that experiments can be carried out?

We agree with Phillip Ball, who wrote in Physics Globe that “quantum mechanics is continue to, a century following it was conceived, earning us scratch our heads”. There are lots of speculative proposals in rivalry but none have consensus assistance.
John Charap Emeritus professor of theoretical physics, Queen Mary College of London Norman Dombey Emeritus professor of theoretical physics, University of Sussex

Whoever wrote this editorial does not have an understanding of what Richard Feynman intended when he mentioned that nobody genuinely understands quantum mechanics. Currently being able to make a smartphone, a nuclear weapon or an MRI equipment does not demand knowing quantum mechanics in the sense he meant – it needs the physical chops to set up the equations and the mathematical chops to discover or approximate answers to them. Any skilled physicist has been ready to do those calculations for at least 50 several years. What Feynman intended was that, for quantum mechanics, nobody has the form of intuitive being familiar with of what is essentially taking place in the globe that physicists request to obtain. All we can do is shut up and calculate, or get misplaced in a in no way-in no way land of competing but empirically equal interpretations.

Probably Carlo Rovelli’s relational interpretation of quantum mechanics delivers the intuitive being familiar with we’d like to have, though I instead doubt it, and I don’t imagine Rovelli promises it does. Most likely it even would make testable predictions that could distinguish it from other interpretations and thus is science fairly than philosophy (I have no objection to philosophy).

It is just as genuine nowadays as it was when Feynman said it in 1964 that no one (or almost no person) actually understands quantum mechanics. And now, as then, a skilled physicist does not will need the variety of comprehension Feynman intended to use the principle. Indeed, there’s no powerful cause to believe that that the human brain need to be geared up to comprehend it at all. To quote a different famous physicist: this editorial is not even mistaken.
Tim Bradshaw
North Tawton, Devon

Though it’s highly possible that the place of my copy of Helgoland is the place I shelved it, I won’t know no matter whether its webpages are printed or blank till I get round to looking at it. Having said that, from Prof Rovelli’s prior operate, I agree “the basic truth of the matter is that it is impossible to know anything about the world”, which includes irrespective of whether this letter will be published and in what world.
Harold Mozley
York

Presented your editorial on quantum physics, is the strapline now “facts are rather sacred” or “facts are sacred but relative”?
Simon Taylor
Warwick, Warwickshire

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