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Why quantum mechanics is the biggest embarrassment in all of modern physics...


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Robert Gonzalez summarizes this 15-minute video:

What's embarrassing, says Carroll, isn't that there remain unanswered questions about quantum mechanics, or that there's debate within the physics community regarding its significance.

In science, uncertainty, skepticism and deliberation participate in a powerfully deductive dialectic that enables us to rework our understanding of nature — to step back from what we think we know, re-assess our preconceived notions, and bring forth newer, more fully formed views of our Universe. This notion — that science advances not in spite of uncertainty, but because of it — is precisely why Stephen Hawking bet against the discovery of the Higgs Boson. In physics (as with pretty much any scientific field), unanswered questions and internal debate are, almost invariably, wellsprings of progress.

Not so with quantum mechanics, says Carroll, who claims that what's truly embarrassing about the physics of the very small is that questions surrounding its significance have gone unanswered for some 80 years, "with very little... immediately demonstrable progress, even though it's such an important question."

"It seems to me that we have not been been trying to answer this question with as much vigor as we should," Carroll continues. "What is quantum mechanics, really? I mean, that's like saying 'what is the Universe?' What more important question is there than that?"

At just shy of 15 minutes, this video's a bit long for anyone with an attention span conditioned by the internet, but we highly recommend watching the whole thing. Carroll's explanations are lucid and intriguing, and the points he levels are compelling without being condescending. All-in-all, it's as good an introduction to QM as it is an exploration of the present state of the field.

For more, check out Carroll's blog entry on the subject of QM-as-embarrassment over at Preposterous Universe.

15 minutes? Ugh, I'm gonna have to find time for that.

IN economics, it's pretty easy.  There are markets that have classic supply and demand.  In Polynomial markets there's a polynomial function that describes the complex supply and demand curve.  In quantum markets, there's a set of steady states that can all be described.

Greg, that was freaking sweet.

I really feel like I learned something today. :)

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