What I got from The Schrödinger Sessions II: Physics for Science-Fiction Writers, Second Installment

What I got from The Schrödinger Sessions II: Physics for Science-Fiction Writers, Second Installment
JULY 28, 2016 to JULY 30, 2016


I have over thirty pages of notes and comments. Not going to put them all in one post, so here is the second installment. Look for others starting August 8, 2016: http://www.sallyember.com/blog

For any terms or concepts I don’t define or which I define poorly, please refer to: http://www.physicsoftheuniverse.com/glossary.html

I don’t have any more than what I’m posting, here. Physicists: please add, comment, correct, elaborate, explain! Thanks!

NOTE: the superscripted and subscripted numbers and letters won’t copy/paste correctly here; sorry.

Session III, Chad Orzel, Ph.D.

A. What is “waving”?
pilot wave: the guiding particle of a group of particles

B. wave-particle duality
[BOOK: Leonard Susskind & Art Friedman, Quantum Mechanics]

C. superposition: prior to measurement/observation of any kind, objects (particles or whatever) can be in multiple states/locations simultaneously (the famous dead/alive cat in the box)

D. for probability, square the wavefunction to add waves in the double-slit experiment

E. Heinsenberg’s Uncertainty Principle: we can’t know both where we are and how fast we’re moving simultaneously

FORMULA: [‑ ħ2/2m∆2+V]ψ = iħ∂/∂t*ψ

the part before the = sign is the energy of the particle
the trident ψ is psi, which represents the wavefunction, the fundamental object in QM (Quantum Mechanics)
the italicized “i” is the square root of -1, an imaginary number
the part after the second ħ represents change over time
* shows multiplication happens between these two portions
/ shows a fraction (division) line

F. epistemic statements are about our knowledge of a system that necessarily are actual

G. ontological statements are about real physical objects changing over time, and many use the humorous ψ-ontologists, “psi-ontologists,” or “ontic” thinking as that description

H. duality occurs when we attempt to get something to “behave” as both a particle and a wave simultaneously

I. there is a 100% probability that a particle is in a particuar position at any given time until it is observed/measured

J. wavepacket add two waves together (differing wavelengths) and beats are created. Square these, like the square of a sine wave, to get the complex conjugate, or curve formula

K. Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle

FORMULA: ∆x*∆p ≥ ħ/2

x is the position
p is the momentum (both of these can never be zero)
is delta, or change
ħ is always h/2π (because all physicists are inherently lazy and don’t want to write the same thing multiple times if they can use a shortcut)

L. physicists like to use closed systems, educated guesses and thought experiments rather than actually accept paradoxes and the unknown

Session IV Professor Steve Rolston, Ph.D.

A. Welcher Weg = “which way,” in German
if, in principle, I know which way the particle went, there is no interference

encoded via spin within atoms

B. quantum eraser changing the observation or measurement “afterwards”

C. wavefunction collapse all probabilities disappear upon being measured/observed, because the object (wave/particle) now has a known/fixed position

D. polarization light has both vertical and horizontal oscillation, so polarizing eliminates one or the other. This allows for 3-D glasses, sunglasses and other glare-reduction lenses to work by blocking one set, or vector, of waves with a lens

E. Decoherence theory: collapse occurs through interaction with a larger system (an observer, the environment, the “measurement”)

F. measuring device is anything that interacts with the outside world for that object

G. there is “no need to introduce consciousness” to have an observer

H. “entanglement is continuously destroyed”

I. quantum Bayesian(sp?) (Qubism)

J. The “many worlds” perspective / theory originated with Hugh Evert in 1957, but it was Dr. Bryce Seligman DeWitt, Ph.D., who said: “Everything is always everywhere,” and Richard Bach, among others, who said “Everything that can happen is happening now.”

K. measurement just generates correlations (entanglement)

L. In The Spanners Series (my sci-fi/romance series) timulters allow parallel worlds’ objects/people to communicate with one another

M. “the wavefunction is a mathematical description of humans’ knowledge of nature, not of a physical entity.”

N. theories are not “laws” and most cannot become “laws”

Session V Professor Alan McDowell, Ph.D.

A. measurement is quantification

B. feedback leads to an altered strategy based on the results of measurement

C. radiometry is an “absolute” source

D. blackbody: a kiln/oven with a uniform temperature and 1 opening generates temperature then leads to radiance

E. physicists need to get out more; they are hard up for entertainment (they like to play with rotating polarized lenses)

F. 0 and 1 box game, with three columns and three rows of possible positions, in which the columns must add up to “even” numbers and the rows must add up to “odd” numbers, doesn’t work: the final box can never be filled in correctly

G. low efficiency yields small subsets, not large enough to be a scientific sample

H. random number generators are important for many functions

See below for more information about The Schrödinger Sessions.

Who was in charge?
Chad Orzel, Union College
Emily Edwards, JQI
Steve Rolston, JQI

Organizing Institutions
Joint Quantum Institute (JQI)
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Sponsoring Institutions
This workshop was made possible by a Public Outreach and Informing the Public grant from the American Physical Society (APS) and support from the National Science Foundation (NSF)

Joint Quantum Institute
2136 Physical Sciences Complex
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742

How did I get to go?
I applied in March and was accepted in April!

The Schrödinger Sessions II was the second of two (first was 2015) three-day (2.5 days, really) sets of seminars, Physics for Science-Fiction Writers, offering a “crash course” in modern physics for non-scientists who utilize physics and other sciences in our work and wish to do it better. It was held at the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), one of the world’s leading research centers for the study of quantum mechanics. [The organizers kept their promises to] introduce participants to phenomena like superposition, entanglement, and quantum information through a series of lectures by JQI and NIST scientists and tours of JQI laboratories. [They most certainly DID] inform and inspire new stories [and sharing information, like this] in print, on screen, and in electronic media, that will in turn inspire a broad audience to learn more about the weird and fascinating science of quantum physics and the transformative technologies it enables.

The workshop was held at JQI from Thursday, July 28 through Saturday, July 30, 2016. Participants were housed locally at a university dorm with breakfast offered at a dining commons near the dorm and lunch provided at the workshop, which was at the Physical Sciences building. Evenings were free to allow participants to explore the Washington, D.C. area (but I was much too tired at each day’s end to do any exploring).

Participants were selected on the basis of an application asking about personal background, interest, and publication history. [Organizers worked] work to ensure the greatest possible diversity of race and gender as well as type of media (print, television, etc.) with an eye toward reaching the broadest audience. Applications were accepted online from March 1 through March 20, 2015, and acceptance decisions were made around April 15, 2015.

FYI: Next year, 2017, JQI plans to offer a similar seminar for a different professoinal group, Physics for Journalists, and then, pending funding, re-offer this same session as I attended, Physics for Sci-Fi Writers, in the summer of 2018.

Watch this space for more of my notes, reactions and ideas catalyzed by these great seminars, after 8/8/16! http://www.sallyember.com/blog