Essay on On Quantum Theory

Submitted By thedillster
Words: 726
Pages: 3

Ryan Dill
Prof. Sam Coale
English 346
6 February, 2014
On Quantum Theory I find Quantum Theory to be so innately unsatisfying at times. Much like when arguing with a stingy pedant, in dealing with Quantum Mechanics one must laboriously approach a problem from several angles and wade through all the minutiae festering in its underbelly, fighting at every turn, to make any progress, only to emerge either more addled than before or with more appreciation for surviving the ordeal than for the sentiment of corroborating your claim, and still addled. As with the laws of thermodynamics, you can’t win and you can’t break even; you just do as best as nature will allow. Perhaps most frustrating about all things quantum is their tendency toward inexactness, or, as was popularized by Werner Heisenberg, uncertainty. Unlike in many realms of quantitative analysis, Quantum Physics rarely – and, were it not for the fastidiousness in accounting for results that the subject requires, I would be inclined to say never – lends itself to exact answers. So, we talk about problems in Quantum Physics with probabilities, some much rangier than others. Does a gold atom on a thin sheet of foil deflect an alpha particle directly back to its source? Not usually, but Rutherford observed it once, so it must be possible. And lo, the atomic nucleus was revealed to mankind. I suppose it should be formally stated, then, that, notwithstanding existential crises, I find Quantum Theory to be endlessly fascinating. It is widely speculated that the things that most easily capture our attention are those we find most mystifying and elusive; we want most what we can’t have. The stars that populate our night sky and the infinity beyond, the shadowy abyss of the deep sea, the buzzing labyrinth of the human mind – all things that have been pondered by generation after generation of man, and still the mystery shrouding them rests more or less unscathed and their beauty, palpable within, remains untarnished. The common denominator among these subjects and Quantum Theory, as well, is a lack of accessibility. Outer space is too big, and it’s getting bigger. Billions of tons of water does bad things when pressed on a human body. A thought is something that can’t be held in your hand. Brushing away the solipsism, the other way in which Quantum Theory grabs me is through subversion of established ideas. The idea that divisions of space, mass, and energy are discrete is earth-shattering; that we could ostensibly look deep enough into the machinery underlying our universe and see that it is not perfectly “smooth,” as a mathematician might phrase it. Equally terrifying is the thought that time could be the same way and we might never know, as our observation