It's got easier to don't understand Quantum Mechanics

The uncertainty principle: the more you know about the position of a particle the less you know about its momentum (speed...) and vice versa. Courtesy: Werner Heisenberg

Niels Bohr said once: "Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it!"

Indeed, quantum theory defies our reasoning and perception of reality.

 If you can measure something only within a certain approximation and yo would like a better one, well, you will have to look for a better measuring system. Not so in quantum mechanics. Mr. Heisenberg stated that it is impossible to know at the same time the movement of a particle and its position and this has nothing to do with your measuring equipment, rather it is a fundamental characteristic of Nature.

The Newtonian belief that we can know everything about the physical world got a mortal blow.

Waves are quite different from solids, even a child can tell you so. And yet, if the solid shrinks to the size of a particle depending on the way you are observing it you can tell it is a solid or a wave. The two opposite views are actually co-existing.

Understanding either one makes our mind fuzzy, because they are both concepts that we cannot grasp.

Now scientists at the National University of Singapore have demonstrated that these two concepts are actually just one, since one implies the other and viceversa. This will make your life so much easier, since you no longer need to NOT understand both of them. By NOT understanding one you are guaranteed to not understand the other. And this is a great simplification according to the authors of the paper published in the December number of Nature Communications. If you are interested in quantum physics, as I am, you need to read the paper. It is really fascinating to see the intimate connection among these two seemingly unrelated concepts.

It is not just something for theoretical geeks! The uncertainty principle is at the root of quantum cryptography, a new area that is already in use and might become crucial for security of information transmission once the current public private key cryptography will be crippled by quantum computers. The discovery made by the Singapore scientists may prove to have practical application to quantum cryptography, as several other esoteric kind of science turned out to have very practical applications (one for all: the Einstein space time continuum and Lorenz transformation are at the base of the GPS we are using every day!).

Author - Roberto Saracco

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