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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Theory #7: New Ideas to the Many Worlds Interpretation

Theory:
 This entry isn't much of a theory; it's more of an idea leading to a grander theory. Let's get started then. The many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics is one of the three main ways to view quantum mechanics. It says that there are all sorts of possible combinations of events that could happen, like whether a particle will go this way or that way or the other way. After all, quantum mechanics wasn't made to be able to predict the future: it only predicts the probabilities of events happening. The many worlds interpretation not only says that many different things could happen, but all of the different outcomes possible are combined into ONE state! This means that if an electron can go up or down, it's going up and down both at the same time! This sounds ridiculous, but it is true. Once the electron is observed going up, the electron's probability of going down is decreased to zero percent, and the probability of the electron going up increases to one hundred percent. For instance, there is a famous thought experiment called Schrodinger's cat, conceived of by Erwin Schrodinger, a famous physicist who also came up with Schrodinger's wave equation, possibly the most important single equation in the history of science. In the experiment, a cat is put in a box with a canister of cyanide. In 20 minutes, there's a 50-50 chance the canister will burst, killing the cat. In 20 minutes, the cat is both dead and alive at the same time! Once we look in the box to see if the cat is dead or alive, one of probabilities drops to 0% and the other goes up to 100% because we know which state the cat is in (dead or alive, let's make it alive so that we're happy. I'm an avid cat lover so I couldn't stand it if it died. Good thing they don't do this experiment in real life, or Erwin Schrodinger and crew would get charged for animal cruelty.) . Now, the principle of wave-particle duality (also a part of the  many worlds interpretation) says that depending on the experiment, light can behave either as a particle or a wave. Experiments like the photoelectric effect lead to particle-like results, whereas Young's two-slit experiment creates wave-like results. Well I thought that if light can be either a wave or a particle, couldn't light be both a wave and a particle at the same time like the cat is both dead and alive? If light doesn't "know" the experiment it is about to participate in, then there's a 50-50 chance that light will be either a wave or a particle. But once the light finds out what experiment it's partaking in, the probability of one possible chance (wave or particle-like behavior) drops to 0% and the other goes up to 100%. This would combine two revolutionary ideas in the many worlds interpretation into one. This might just be my favorite entry yet. Now I will share with you some facts about the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.

Facts About the Many Worlds Interpretation:

  • This interpretation of quantum mechanics disobeys the law of conservation of energy, which states that energy cannot be created or destroyed.
  • The many worlds interpretation is hailed by most physicists today.
  • This interpretation says that there are all sorts of possible combinations of things that could happen, but the hands of probability roll the dice of the universe. Probability governs everything. If you want to got to college and take a course in quantum mechanics, don't go skipping your way to class thinking you can predict anything in the universe. You can't. Probability is pretty much everything.
How I Thought of this Theory:
I was talking with my uncle and we started talking about the major and minor interpretations of quantum mechanics (including the Copenhagen interpretation, which I despise). He mentioned a very interesting view I hadn't heard of called the instrumentalist view, which as he described it is the "shut up and calculate view". I then went home thinking about different properties of different interpretations, which led me to combine two different properties of one interpretation, the many worlds interpretation. And about my last entry, people were questioning me about whether the Higgs boson was found. Yes, it has been found, but not definitely confirmed. The reason I haven't updated my blog in so long is because I've been busy lately and I just started school last Monday. See you later!