Thursday, October 23, 2014

Philosophy Wire: Being everywhere. Crazy. Thus true.


Philosophy Wire by Spiros Kakos [2014-10-23]:

An electron, in Newtonian mechanics, can be stuck on one side of an impenetrable barrier. In quantum mechanics (QM), however, its wave function can be partly on one side of a barrier and partly on the other side at the same time, which allows for the possibility of "quantum tunneling" [1], i.e. passing through the barrier instantly (which means that the "part" of the wave function beyond the barrier will "materialize") - a common effect in semiconductors.

Interestingly, this theory does not only apply to subatomic particles, but also to macroscopic objects like me, you, and Donald Trump’s hair. Since our bodies are composed of particles, each of which are just wave functions, your body is simply the superposition of these zillions of wave functions, thereby creating its own “macroscopic” wave function. Theoretically, for this reason, you have a finite probability of passing through a wooden door, much like the electron tunneling effect. But, don’t try it. Because, when you sum up all of your constituent particles’ wave functions, there is a mathematical tendency for the probabilities of large-scale anomalous quantum effects to be extremely small. It is analogous to flipping pennies. The odds that a single penny comes up heads (electron passes through the barrier) is 50-50, but the odds that 1000 pennies all come up heads (you pass through the door) is 2^^1000 (equivalent to a 1 followed by 301 zeros, an impossible to imagine large number) to 1. And you have a helluva lot more than 1000 subatomic particles in your body. [2]

It reminds me of an old mystery series where one was stuck in a wall...


We are here.
We are there.
We are everywhere.

Once upon a time some "crazy" and "illiterate" people knew that.

But now we are "logical" and "educated" and we "know" this can't be true...


(c) Philosophy WIRES - Commenting world news from philosophy's perspective…


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