Re: FW: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence

From: Philip Jonkers (
Date: Sun Mar 17 2002 - 09:20:12 GMT

  • Next message: Douglas Brooker: "Re: FW: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence"

    Received: by id IAA16399 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Sun, 17 Mar 2002 08:30:06 GMT
    Message-ID: <000e01c1cd94$f4a39660$5e2ffea9@oemcomputer>
    From: "Philip Jonkers" <>
    To: <>
    References: <>
    Subject: Re: FW: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence
    Date: Sun, 17 Mar 2002 00:20:12 -0900
    Organization: Prodigy Internet
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
    Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
    X-Priority: 3
    X-MSMail-Priority: Normal
    X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 6.00.2600.0000
    X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V6.00.2600.0000
    Precedence: bulk

    > > Especially when one remembers that the meaning of the term quantum is
    > > the
    > > smallest discernible amount. new Age folks sometimes think it means the
    > > opposite, as in 'a quantum leap.'
    > But, AFAIK, that refers to the energy state of electrons, and it _is_ a
    > vast leap across a gulf of immense energy, atomically speaking.
    > But, some physicist will be coming along shortly to beat my ears with
    > the facts....

    Allow me before I hit the sack. Quantum mechanics knows two levels of
    In the first some physical quantities, such as energy and angular momentum,
    are quantized,
    that is, they are allowed to only take on discrete values represented by
    quantum numbers. The very first act of quantization was one rather fuelled
    by despair,
    as a last resort one might say, deployed by Max Planck. So it was that in
    order to solve
    the great riddle of the ultra-violet catastrophe he decided to allow the
    radiation due
    to the black-body system only to take on dicrete energy values. Although he
    repugnant of that dreadfully unholy (read un-classical) decision things
    fell into places as no classical theory could accomplish before.
    And look and behold, the quantum era had begun.
    This purely pragmatical and ad-hoc measure led to the development of the
    old version of quantum mechanics pioneered by other no less giants such as
    Einstein, Bohr
    and Sommerfeld. It then took the next generation of physicists such as
    Heisenberg, Jordan,
    Born and Schroedinger to substitute the rather ad-hoc mish-mash of recipes
    (which supposed
    to be passing for quantum theory) by a more solid and coherent framework by
    inventing matrix
    and wave mechanics. Of course, the game wasn't finished until our great
    friend Paul
    Dirac came along and casted the whole thing into an even more rigorous and
    sound theory. Although even then the game wasn't really over and many a
    spent a great deal of time proving what Dirac simply had taken for granted (
    such as the properties
    of his name-bearing Dirac `function'). After all, Dirac's credo was not too
    bother too much with
    the math as long as the physics was right. (After all still, he got a PhD in
    *applied* mathematics.)

    In the second quantization matter itself is quantized. Electrons, protons,
    neutrons and what have
    you are defined as small packages of energy, mass, momentum, angular
    and what not. The quantum variant burdened with its description is known as
    quantum field
    theory and its existence allows us to interpret experimental results on the
    bubble chamber
    for instance, my boss' highly credited invention. Unlike the birth of (real)
    quantum mechanics in the
    20s, to be regarded as a happy time in modern physics as a second rate
    physicist could
    do first rate work (wasn't that Felix Bloch who said that?),
    quantum field theory or better quantum electrodynamics suffered a rather
    traumatic time of
    development in the late 30s and 40s due to the discovery of inherent and
    persistent infinities in the theory.
    Many physicist saw that as a fair excuse to leave the sinking ship and find
    pleasure in other
    areas (such as in biology as Max Delbrueck did and my own boss too

    Anyway, I'm dwelling (too much), getting carried away as my sentenced are
    getting too long
    and fancy and need to get some sleep (no I'm not drunk or intoxicated in any
    other way).

    But it was my pleasure and please forgive me if I left out a crucial element
    or two,


    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sun Mar 17 2002 - 08:40:39 GMT