Scientific theories and prescriptive vs descriptive instrumentalism

Those of you who've known me a while may remember that I dislike accepting philosophical labels. For example, although the labels "materialist" or "physicalist" are more or less accurate descriptions of what I think, they often seem to imply an ideological rigidity I'm not comfortable with. My attitude toward these labels somewhat resonates with Neil … Continue reading Scientific theories and prescriptive vs descriptive instrumentalism

Mea culpa on quantum decoherence

Lately, I've been trying to gain a better understanding of quantum decoherence. This is the process of a quantum system in superposition interacting with the environment and, as a result, appearing to lose its quantum nature, notably by having interference between the elements of its superposition become undetectable. Decoherence is often used synonymously with the … Continue reading Mea culpa on quantum decoherence

The nature of quantum nonlocality

Quantum physics has been on my mind again lately, somewhat triggered by a recent conversation with Wyrd Smythe on his blog. I've always known quantum nonlocality has nuances, but stuff I read this week revealed some wrinkles I wasn't aware of. (Well, I was aware of them, but wasn't aware they pertained to nonlocality.) A … Continue reading The nature of quantum nonlocality

Thoughts about quantum computing and the wave function

Qubit bloch sphere

The main difference between a quantum computer and a classical one is the qubit. Qubits are like classical bits, in that they hold binary values of either 1 or 0, on or off, true or false, etc. However, qubits, being quantum objects, can be in a superposition of both states at once. The physical manifestation … Continue reading Thoughts about quantum computing and the wave function

The spectrum of science to fantasy

Black swans

A question long argued in the philosophy of science is the demarcation problem.  How to we distinguish science from non-science?  Karl Popper famously proposed falsifiability as a criteria.  To be science, a theory must make predictions that could turn out to be wrong.  It must be falsifiable.  Theories that are amorphous or flexible enough to … Continue reading The spectrum of science to fantasy

The measurement problem, Copenhagen, pilot-wave, and many worlds

With quantum physics, we have a situation where a quantum object, such as a photon, electron, atom or similar scale entity, acts like a wave, spreading out in a superposition, until we look at it (by measuring it in some manner), then it behaves like a particle.  This is known as the measurement problem. Now, … Continue reading The measurement problem, Copenhagen, pilot-wave, and many worlds

Sean Carroll’s Something Deeply Hidden

I'm just about finished reading Sean Carroll's Something Deeply Hidden.  I was going to wait to post this until I'd completely finished, but all I've got left is the appendix, I perceive that I've gotten through the main points, and discussion on the previous post is veering in this direction. As widely reported, Carroll is … Continue reading Sean Carroll’s Something Deeply Hidden

Why you can’t use quantum entanglement for faster than light communication

Albert Einstein, with his theory of special relativity, established that the speed of light is the absolute speed limit of the universe.  A rocket ship attempting to accelerate to the speed of light encounters some well known effects: time dilation, mass increase, and length contraction.  The closer to the speed of light it gets, the … Continue reading Why you can’t use quantum entanglement for faster than light communication