The quantum thing.

It’s only number 3 on this list, whereas second hand smoke is covered by number 1.

The quantum stuff is interesting though. Take the idea that a particle can exist in two states simultaneously and will collapse into one state or the other when observed. How do they know?

The particle is in both A and B states at once. You look at it and it is in the B state. What happens when you look away? Does it stay in the B state or does it go back to the unobserved ‘both states at once’?

If you look at it again and it is now in the ‘A’ state, then you know the answer. But if it is in the ‘B’ state still, you don’t.

Does that mean that the particle remains permanently B after the first observation, or does it mean that the particle is always A/B when not observed and always B when observed? How can you know what something is doing when not observed?

If I am here in my little room here in the early hours, am I smoking or not? You cannot know unless you can see me. I have no webcam so you can’t see me, but if I did have one, you would see me smoking or not smoking. Which state is true?

It depends on when you look.

All smokers are quantum smokers. We are, at any one time, either smoking or not smoking. There is no graduated scale, it is a fully quantum yes/no thing.

So when the antis aren’t looking, we are both smoking and not smoking simultaneously. Only when they see us do we assume one state or the other.

Unlike those subatomic particles, we get to choose what they see. We, the experiment, can decide the result. Science would be horrified, pseudoscience is too dim to understand the difference.

It’s just a drunken ramble now but I have a feeling it could prove useful in the near future,,,


17 thoughts on “The quantum thing.

  1. When does the wave function collapse, that is the question. When the electron hits the film or when you look at the film?


  2. Yes, it’s not a particle in the normal sense of solidity, but an energy probability. That’s the great thing about the universe – there’s nothing there except wavy bound energy – nothing solid at all!

    I prefer to think the earth is supported by a giant turtle (which is likewise on another, etc.) – it’s an easier concept than (the little we know of) reality.


    • Way back at school, there was one kid who was super-fit and had incredible control over a football. One of those who could, every time without fail, spin it and balance it on one finger. The running joke was ‘Where is the centre of gravity of a spinning ball?’ ‘On the end of Mark Kendall’s finger’.

      I can name him because nobody can troll him. He’s been dead for years. He did get to almost live his footballing dream, he was a reserve goalie for a top London team but died of excessive health before he made the first team. A terrible shame, he was a great bloke. Most of the ‘jocks’ had no time for us nerds and geeks, but Mark was friends with everyone.

      And now, the spinning ball has no place for its centre of gravity. That’s why the world has gone to pot.


  3. Sorry, proper lay person here, so thinking outside the box, isn’t the observer the decisive ingredient of quantum mechanics? If you follow the etymology back, you arrive at ‘who’ and ‘is able’. I wonder if if we believe what we see or if we see what we believe.


    • There are a number of different interpretations of QM. The most widely accepted one is the ‘Copenhagen’ interpretation, which certainly does put the ‘observer’ right at the centre. However, the supporters of the Copenhagen interpretation have never managed to give a convincing definition of ‘observer’. (Does an observer necessarily have to be a conscious being, for example.) To address your last point: If we see what we believe, then we would never notice any new and unexpected results of experiment. A good example of being surprised by a result is the discovery of the mu meson. I I Rabi is reported to have responded to this news with ‘Who ordered that?’ As for believing what you see, the prudent thing is to check that others can see the same thing *without telling them what to look for*. Scientists are far from immune to the temptation to see what they want to see.


        • Have ‘you’, Klutz! … have you Edgar or anyone else here abouts got any thoughts? I really value the opinions on smoking blogs – you all strike me as clever it your different ways


      • Interesting point/ By ‘observer’, do they mean there has to be someone looking, or do they mean ‘observation point’ in that if you were at this point in spacetime, you would see this particular thing? It will happen if there is nobody there but if you wre there, this is what you would see.

        If a quantum particle sets into a definite status and there is nobody to see it, does it think ‘well that was a bloody waste of tiume then’?


    • I’m not a physicist but as I understand it, the observer does not influence the decay of a particle into one state or the other. The observer merely observes. The particle will decay into one state or the other state when observed, maybe the same state every time, maybe not.

      What is interesting is that if the observer looks away (distracted by Lolcats, for example), does the particle rermain in the state it decayed into? Or does it stick out its tongue and resume dancing between states until looked at again?

      If it randomly decays into one state or the other, we could test it.

      If it always decays into the same state, we can never know.


      • So maybe by measuring the changes to the observer, we can test whether the particle decays into one state or the other, or not. Observer means, “one who watches and takes notice”

        And a watch is just a portable clock … and clock can be broken down to cee-lock, or see-lock. Maybe watching the watcher holds the key. Is the watcher of the watchers God, and does God influence the experiment, just by watching? And didn’t the most famous Eureka measurement occur not in a science lab but as a result of the scientist deciding to take a bath?

        If I want to find out the weight of my miniature dachshund, Poppy, I would have to weigh first myself and then both of us together, subtract the former from the latter to find out her weight – really her body is just too long to fit onto bathroom scales, even if I owned some, and she’s much too fidgitty.

        What’s the best thinking whiskey, Legs? The stuff you keep in your 1950s desk drawer … I might have to invest in some but I am a complete whiskey virgin. Okay, I used to drink Southern Comfort and lemonade when I used to go to pubs but that’s whiskey liqueur, which really sounds like it could be some sort of sexy foreplay. What is the best whiskey for penetrative thinking … the really good stuff that you would only consider sharing with a good friend?

        In other news, more good stuff – the Naked Rambler has been set free and allowed to go about his naked business:

        “Something has changed and it is good news for me,”

        Which was nice…


        • Okay, I realise the naked rambler is an old report, but if Tobacco Controllers can use old data to draw conclusions to try and change the world …

          It’s one of those unitended consequences on a road supposedly paved by good intentions – by decaying the status of science to ‘junk’, just to sell a predetermined, fraudulent conclusion to the the lay citizen, Tobacco Control has breathed new life into many ideas painstakingly ‘junked’ by modern science. And the lay citizen doesn’t need an expensive lab to observe an Einstein experiment, just some synchronised watches:


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