The Origin of Quantum Interpretation

QuantumThere is a new book I’d like to read: Quantum: Einstein, Bohr, and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality, by Manjit Kumar.  The book is a non-technical account of the discoveries and arguments that led to the Theory of Quantum Mechanics we rely on today.  According to Graham Farmelo’s review of Quantum in the New York Times last month, the book is full of interesting anecdotes about the physicists, their ideas and their disagreements.

Early quantum mechanics is often portrayed as a battlefield from which Bohr emerges victorious while Einstein recedes into the background.  Bohr’s view is now taught to almost every undergraduate physics major and philosophers routinely refer to his view as the ‘Standard Interpretation’.  However, Continue reading “The Origin of Quantum Interpretation”

Why Does John Wayne Always Win?

New Scientist this week carried a playful article on just this (very pressing) question. Niels Bohr (yes, the Neils Bohr) once hypothesised that the reason that the Good Guy is so often left standing is because his opponent draws first? Confused? Bohr’s explanation was that in reacting to an opponent’s move, the Good guy acts unthinkingly, and thereby faster than his adversary. To test his theory, he employed that most scientific of instruments – a set of toy pistols, and practiced with his colleagues. When his opponent drew first, Bohr – or so the story goes – invariably won.

Andrew Welchman, a researcher at the University of Birmingham, decided to put this theory to the test. Continue reading “Why Does John Wayne Always Win?”