A couple of weeks ago, I shared Ars Technica’s first article in a series on quantum mechanics that promised to be math and philosophy free. So far, the author, Miguel Morales, has stuck to that promise. Today he published the third installment.
This one focuses on the size of particle, and why that’s far from a straightforward idea. In the process, he describes the difference (or at least a difference) between fermions (matter) and bosons (force carriers). He also lays a little bit of groundwork on decoherence, although without using that term yet. And he covers a topic that sometimes comes up in our conversations: the uncertainty principle, and why it’s not just an epistemic problem.
All of this continues to be (mostly) handled in terms of concrete experiments, which I think is a very good approach.
Morales also continues to discuss the results in terms of waves. Talking about the dynamics in terms of particles inevitably makes the entire affair feel much more spooky. But as long as we’re talking about waves, things seem more grounded. That said, it’s still quantum mechanics, and ultimately when a quantum object hits something, it does so as a localized particle, and that remains the central inescapable mystery. But the dynamics prior to that point are waves, or at least wave-like.
Of course, you can still think of it all as just waves of probability, if you insist. 🙂