(Roughly) Daily

“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away”*…

Jukka Liukkonen (left) and Jussi Lindgren (right) describe Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. Photo: Aalto University

Quantum mechanics arose in the 1920s, and since then scientists have disagreed on how best to interpret it. Many interpretations, including the Copenhagen interpretation presented by Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, and in particular, von Neumann-Wigner interpretation, state that the consciousness of the person conducting the test affects its result. On the other hand, Karl Popper and Albert Einstein thought that an objective reality exists. Erwin Schrödinger put forward the famous thought experiment involving the fate of an unfortunate cat that aimed to describe the imperfections of quantum mechanics.

In their most recent article, Finnish civil servants Jussi Lindgren and Jukka Liukkonen, who study quantum mechanics in their free time, take a look at the uncertainty principle that was developed by Heisenberg in 1927. According to the traditional interpretation of the principle, location and momentum cannot be determined simultaneously to an arbitrary degree of precision, as the person conducting the measurement always affects the values.

However, in their study Lindgren and Liukkonen concluded that the correlation between a location and momentum, i.e., their relationship, is fixed. In other words, reality is an object that does not depend on the person measuring it. Lindgren and Liukkonen utilized stochastic dynamic optimization in their study. In their theory’s frame of reference, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle is a manifestation of thermodynamic equilibrium, in which correlations of random variables do not vanish.

“The results suggest that there is no logical reason for the results to be dependent on the person conducting the measurement. According to our study, there is nothing that suggests that the consciousness of the person would disturb the results or create a certain result or reality,” says Jussi Lindgren…

The full story at: “A new interpretation of quantum mechanics suggests that reality does not depend on the person measuring it.”

* Philip K. Dick

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As we admire amateur achievement, we might spare a thought for another profoundly-gifted amateur, James Prescott Joule; he died on this date in 1889. A seminal physicist and mathematician, he did “his science” in his free time; in his day job, he managed his family’s brewery.

Joule studied the nature of heat, and discovered its relationship to mechanical work– work that was prompted by his concern as a brewer to get the most from his steam (and later electric) engines. This led to the law of conservation of energy, which in turn led to the development of the first law of thermodynamics. The SI derived unit of energy, the joule, is named for him.

Joule’s earliest published work met with substantial resistance, as it depended on very precise measurements of heat that most in his audience believed infeasible– but that Joule, drawing on his brewer’s craft, had in fact achieved.

He worked with Lord Kelvin to develop an absolute thermodynamic temperature scale, which came to be called the Kelvin scale. Joule also conducted experiments on magnetostriction, via which he found the relationship between the current through a resistor and the heat dissipated, which is known as Joule’s first law.

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