Sunday, 3 September 2017

a quantum of solace

A diverse group of physicists are undertaking a top-down review of quantum mechanics in order to reframe it in a fashion that does not come off so weird and counter to the ways we interact with reality. Not just a question of scale but a landscape haunted with both living and dead cats, action-at-a-distance, and particles that are in two places at once, there’s no guarantee that there are easier, more fundamental answers to be found but of course the pursuit is worthwhile.
Rather than admitting to a mission statement in this discipline, quantum theory is informed of a loose association of analogies and observable phenomena—plus the mathematics to support it, the efforts of this consortium might lend something more cohesive and regimented and even lead to deeper truths and perhaps a glimpse of what causes happenstance to be focused or fuzzy. It’s a bit like marvelling, as one does, at the fact that our march of numbers from primitive counting to hopelessly complex calculus works and the Cosmos seems to oblige. What do you think? Sometimes I think scientists grow uncomfortable not with the fact that there are significant challenges in the evanescent and struggle to articulate complex concepts to the uninitiated (though inability to explain something in simple terms probably betrays a shaky grasp) but rather the rather defeatist allure of pseudoscience that some see fit to plug the gaps in understanding. The scientific method does not ask we abandon that which is outside its purview as normative, subject to belief but its mysteries, spookiness and deviation from predestination included, are not there either to help those forces gain a purchase.