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This essay will discuss some of the implications on quantum mechanics furthermore how this was developed by theorists for instance Planck theory on black body radiation, Einstein theory on the photoelectric effect and Bohr's atom model and many more. Quantum Mechanics is a theory in physics which mainly tries to explain the behaviour of very small particles such as atoms and molecules. Richard Dawkins States that 'quantum theory is experimental predictions which have been verified to an accuracy number of decimal places'. I agree because the main ideas into quantum mechanics is predicting and carrying out experiments to get results. Thompson state that 'the atom was then found to have a nucleus comprising protons and neurons, with electrons circling around it, like planets in the solar system'. The expansions of quantum mechanics have replaced classical Copernican-like atomic models of the atom. Using probability theory, and allowing for a wave-particle duality, quantum mechanics also replaced classical mechanics which was the method to describe interactions between sub-atomic particles.
Planck was born in Germany on 23rd April 1858 - 4th October, 1947 he was a physicist who carried out an experiment which was called black body radiation this was to do with absorbents of electromagnetic radiation via heat. Barbour states that 'Planck showed that the spectrum of radiation from a hot object could be accounted for if one assumed that its atoms can vibrate not with just any amount of energy but only with quantized energy value'. The meaning of quantized is to divide something into tiny separate increments. From this statement Planck is talking about atoms vibrating from using hot items with using small amounts of energy rather than using any amount of energy.
Einstein was born in Germany on 14th March, 1879 - 18th April, 1955 he did several of experiments but I am going to focus on one of his experiments which was called the photoelectric effect. This experiment was to do with light hitting a metal object which produces electrons and that light carries its energy in large pieces; light would then consist of small atoms which is called photons this is continued from the work done from Max Planck. Barbour states that 'Einstein had shown the photoelectric effect could be explained if light, which is usually thought of as a wave is assumed to travel as a quantum or packet of energy'.
Bohr's was born in Denmark on 7th October 1885 - 18th November 1962 he did an experiment which was called Bohr's atom this was to do with electrons moving in circular orbits in the middle of nucleus. He took inspiration from the work of Planck and proposed that the atomic electrons are restricted to certain orbits for which the energy of the electron is quantised. Electrons don't constantly radiate energy because some orbits have the same energy as other orbits, and sometimes changing orbits wouldn't emit radiation. Barbour states that 'no sharp line can be drawn between the process of observation and what is observed thus conventional concepts inevitably enter our attempts to picture what is going on in atomic world'. From this statement it is saying that you can make assumptions from doing observations but will not get a full view of the small world. Thompson states that 'Bohr and Heisenberg made it clear, with implications that an object has no existence independent of our observation of it'. This is important because Bohr is saying that observation is vital in quantum physics due to without observing you can't see what is happening. Times state that ' It was argued, notably by Niels Bohr, that in the quantum domain we meet a new situation in which we can no longer form mental images of physical processes but must be content with predicting the outcomes of experiments. The job of the physicist is simply to gain proficiency in manipulating mathematical symbols. We must be content with knowing how to drive a car and not ask how it works. A major source of confusion has been that Bohr retained the informal language of classical physics but changed the meaning of the terms'.
W. Heisenberg was born in Germany on 5th December 1901 - 1st February 1976 he did number of experiments but I'm going to focus on his uncertainty principle which is to do with particles momentum and position. The momentum of a particle is equal to product of its mass multiply its velocity but you won't be able to measure the position and momentum of the particle at the same time. This is also relevant for the position and momentum of an object. Dorricott states that 'the more accurately we measure the position of an electron, the less accurately we can determine its momentum'. The implications for this experiment are we may develop science to get round this problem (Einstein and Max Planck). Heisenberg reality is fundamentally unknowable and consciousness creates an objective world. Southgate et al pg112 state that 'Heisenberg his self took a more radical view - this limitation is a property of nature rather than an artefact of experimentation'. From this statement I can suggest that the methods he used to measure the momentum and position was limited.
Erwin Schrödinger was born in Austria on 12th august 1887 - 4th January 1961. He did a thought experiment on cats which was called Schrodinger's Cat. This is an experiment in which we put a cat inside a box with poisonous gases then after a while they will open the lid this is the only time you find out if the cat is dead or a live there is a 50-50 chance. It is based on the basic assumption of probability. Southgate et al state that 'the dominant view in quantum mechanics is that quantum probabilities become determinate on measurement - that the wave is collapsed by the intervention of classical measuring apparatus. This means that the cat is neither alive nor dead until the box is opened the cat is in an indeterminate state'. John Wheeler - observers bring world into being but is the cat conscious enough to decide its fate. Southgate and et al state that 'Is the cat sufficiently conscious to determinate the outcome of the experiment'. This is saying that you can't find out if the cat is dead or alive until you open the box.
Hugh Everett was born in America on 11th November 1930 - 19th July 1982. In (1957) Many-worlds interpretation Southgate et al state that 'Hugh Everett surprised his more conventional colleagues by proposing that the Schrödinger wave equation as a whole is an accurate description of reality'. So with the Schrödinger cat experiment he would believe that in different situations the cat will die and in another the cat will live.
The double-slit experiment is an experiment that demonstrates the inseparability of the wave and particle natures of light and other quantum particles. Electrons behave like particles with one slit and like waves with two slits open. If only one particle is used with two slits open, it splits itself and behaves like a wave. The Implications for this experiment are the importance of probability; Means things in quantum physics are 'indeterminate'. Things are unpredictable and seem to happen by chance, Importance of 'observer'. Niels Bohr complementarity needs both descriptions to give accurate picture of reality and Bohr's idea popular with some theologians which explains the nature/grace; the freedom/providence; the spirit/flesh; the religion/science. Polkinghorne points out that 'wave particle duality in quantum physics is a case where two conflicting interpretations both apply to a situation. By analogy, in orthodox Christianity theologians must content with the concept that Jesus was both human and divine. Just as physicists reconcile the dual nature of light, theologians reconcile the seeming paradox of Jesus' true nature'.
The EPR paradox (or Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox) quantum entanglement is to do with particles interacting with another particle to form a single entangled state. The definition of an entangled state is that it is not entirely independent of other states: its state is dependent on another state so this process will not without two particles interacting with one another. Southgate et al state that ' in spite of his crucial role in the early development of quantum mechanics, Einstein was very uneasy about its implications and, in later years, organised a rearguard action against it. His aphorism 'God does not play dice'. This suggest that Einstein isn't convinced by quantum mechanics and from his quote 'God does not play dice' he is saying that everything happens in random fashion and you can not predict what is going to happen. Implications of EPR Particles seem to be able to communicate in some psychic way because they were once together. Furthermore encourages holistic thinking.
Richard Feynman was born in America on May 11th 1918 - 15th February 1988 he was a physicist. He won a noble prize for the theory of quantum electrodynamics which he re-established this is to do with how light and matter interact. 'Richard Feynman has called it "the jewel of physics" for its extremely accurate predictions of quantities like the anomalous magnetic moment of the electron, and the Lamb shift of the energy levels of hydrogen'.
No one can be certain and it is interesting to think that the theory of quantum mechanics come into view to lead the thoughtful observer to prompting the question of the limits to natural scientific thinking. Certainly not random chance, but perhaps not total determinism either would explain the seemingly inconsistent difficulty of not being able to be understand the quantum world.
To conclude the general implications of quantum mechanics are that Quantum events happen by chance they are not determined. They have no cause and no explanation. Thompson state that 'Laplace had argued that in theory, everything in the universe can be predicted from a knowledge of the present: quantum theory denies this'. From this statement Laplace is saying we can know about the world by the facts we have from the current events happening but quantum theory denies this because they like to observe and do observations on experiments they are undertaking to find out what actually happening in the world. Seems to be some 'fuzziness' about reality also reality seems to be 'subjective'. The Observer is important moreover anti-reductionist the whole system is important. BBC states that 'According to RP Feynman it is safe to say that no-one understands it completely'. I agree with Feynman because it is very difficult to understand quantum mechanics and I found it hard to understand it my self but it was very interesting to write my essay on this topic.
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- Dorriocot J (2005) Science and Religion SCM press :London
- Feynman, Richard (1985) The Strange Theory of Light and Matter. Princeton University Press.
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- Southgate S et al (1999) God, humanity and the cosmos: T&T Clark: Scotland
- http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=98242§ioncode=26 accessed December 2009
- Thompson M (2000) religion and science. Hodder and Stoughton London
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQYGkuHFNuU accessed November 2009