Robert J. England II
HON 212 Section 007
Quantum Mechanics Response
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
For centuries, people believed that anything could happen at any time due to
unnatural factors, magic, or the whim of the deities.
Then, science became predominant,
and reason told the more educated that there everything had a physical cause; everything
could be predicted.
However, in today's world, scientists believe the same as the ancients –
anything could happen, and nothing could be truly predicted.
The newly-created field of
physics called quantum mechanics is the study of things atomic and smaller.
studying that was devoted to quantum mechanics, the more it was realized that nothing in
the subatomic world acts like anything known in the macroscopic world, even in the actual
natures of the objects studied.
Two texts this week, by Peter Atkins and Richard Feynman,
discuss the physical aspects of quantum mechanics, while a third by Hilary Putnam
concerns the more philosophical aspects.
The two most important ideas of quantum
mechanics are the ideas of duality and uncertainty, and the combination of the two leads to
some very strange possibilities for everyday occurrences.
According to the leading quantum physicists, any “particle” or “wave” at the tiniest
level is really a combination of both – a wave-particle “duality.”
Originally, matter was
viewed as particles (atoms), while light was viewed as waves (electromagnetic waves).
However, experiments soon proved that light “waves” sometimes acted as particles, while
matter “particles” sometimes acted as waves!
Eventually it was concluded that, contrary to
anything any human has ever been used to, these minuscule objects are a combination of
wave and particle (for simplicity, I will refer to these simply as particles).
Scientists are still
testing and experimenting to find the exact nature of the combination, particularly as the