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dannyc's avatar

How smart are quantum physicists and are their theories of multi-universes able to be understood by the layman..like me?

Asked by dannyc (5213 points ) May 19th, 2009

I was reading about Hawkings and others Theories of “everything” and was curious how mathematically centric they were. The individuals presenting their arguments seem to spout off string theory, alternate universes and wave mechanics which I could not fully grasp. I was wondering then, who are they actually doing this research for as they seem to be operating on a different plane. or perhaps a good book explaining it simply is in order…

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17 Answers

gymnastchick729's avatar

they are so smart that they had/have no lives, no offense to anyone, but the only reason why their explanations are understood is because the only work they really did was proving the theories.

Ivan's avatar

At their heart, quantum physics, string theory, relativity, and the like are rooted in complex mathematics. However, the general conclusions of these theories are pretty simple. It would take years of graduate work to fully understand them, but a good book or a few Discovery-channel specials could give you a reasonable understanding of their core conclusions.

SeventhSense's avatar

They’re like smart…way.

dannyc's avatar

I wasn’t bad in math, bu the stuff they are studying seems a bit on the edge. It seems they are charting a course that few are participating in its realization.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Quantum mechanics is exceptionally difficult from a mathematical point of view. From a conceptual point of view though, it is relatively simple to gain a basic understanding. The basis of quantum mechanics is:

1. All matter is particle and wave like, but only ever displays one or the other property, depending on what experiment we perform.
2. All energy, mass, and time is divided into discrete units, or quanta, that must be a multiple of a certain number (Planck’s Constant).
3. The greater accuracy with which you measure the location of a particle, the less you are able to measure about its velocity (Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle). This means that every particle is not at a finite point, but spread out in space according to its probability function.
4. No two particles can be in the same state at the same time. State is a combination of quantum properties such as spatial location, temporal location, and spin number.
5. All observed particles obey either Bose-Einstein statistics (and are so called Bosons) or Fermi-Dirac statistics (and are so called Fermions).

Those are the main principles, but of course you can study it to the point of the cutting-edge physicists if you want to devote your life to it. What I have listed is imperfect, because in quantum there is very little certainty about anything, and its very nature makes blanket rules difficult. Hope this helps.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Multiverse theories and string theory etc. all stem from attempts to unify QM with General Relativity. If you can understand what I have posted above, a little research will be able to give you similar quality explanations of multiverse theories, differing interpretations of information problems, and other attempts to unify Relativity and Quantum.

BookReader's avatar

…all knowledge is built from the letter A block to the letter Z block- then we have an alphabet and later a word- on and on and on…

…there is room for growth in science- the goal i’m guessing is producing advanced artificial intelligence, creating life, recreating life, answering every question without error…

oratio's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh All matter has wave properties?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@oratio That is correct. Just like the Photoelectric Effect shows particle properties of photons (light), the Bragg Experiment (see this link) shows that electrons diffract, which is a wave property. In fact, all matter can have its particle/wave relationship described by the De Broglie equations, lambda = h/p and f = E/h where ‘h’ is Planck’s constant, ‘p’ is momentum, ‘E’ is energy, and ‘lambda’ is the wavelength.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

The Bragg Experiment was conducted using electrons at few years later. This is the principle that electron microscopes operate on.

oratio's avatar

Fascinating

f4a's avatar

@dannyc is it a book? what’s it called? im interested with this sort of stuff.

mattbrowne's avatar

Albert Einstein once said everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

There are very few people in this world who fully grasp all of general relativity and quantum physics. So we are all in this together. However I would recommend to progress with books one level at a time (without skipping levels). Maybe you bought books you should read after you’ve read other books first. You need to determine your level of knowledge in math and physics (high school, college, graduate…) plus all the books you’ve read later. I’m not sure if this helps.

SeventhSense's avatar

This guy discovered it all over 2500 years ago.
Science is just playing catch up.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

Sometimes some conversations about quantum, probability, multiverses, and related matters drift toward a discussion about free will vs. determinism. Stanley Sobottka’s
A Course in Consciousness is an interesting website that explores these topics. I don’t agree with everything he states, but it is still fascinating.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Yetanotheruser
I love his questions on objective reality

Is there any proof that anything exists if you are not observing it?
If you cite the reports of others, is there any proof that they exist if you are not observing them?
If you cite indirect evidence, is there any proof that that exists if you are not observing it?

roundsquare's avatar

The math is crazy hard. I’ve tried to look at some of it… and I was pretty good at math but I found it impossible.

There’s a few reasons for it
1) There is a lot of math so it takes a lot of time to learn it all.
2) The intuition takes longer to build. Its nothing like what we experience on a daily basis.
3) All the explanations in regular English are so inaccurate as to be almost wrong. English doesn’t have concepts for what quantum mechanics describes primarily of the lack of daily experience with these phenomena.

By the way, from what I’ve heard, a lot of the advances in cosmology, relativity, etc… have come from brilliant physicists talking without doing the actual math (though they can certainly do a lot of it in their head while talking).

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