Understanding quantum mechanics 2: Uncertainty and the weirdness of classical physics.

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3m Mar 12, 2021

In this episode, we first explore the concepts of uncertainty and
probability as aspects of the common empirical basis of classical and quantum physics.

Then we formulate the basic assumptions of classical physics and their consequences, in particular classical determinism.

Finally, we discuss the weird but popular metaphysics suggested by (or at least compatible with) classical physics.

The first episode of this series can be found here:


Music: "The Rocket" by Wintergatan
This track can be downloaded for free at www.wintergatan.net
Free License to use this track in your video can be downloaded at www.wintergatan.net


Notes about the phase-space formalism used in the video:

See https://github.com/edwinst/understanding_qm/blob/main/ep02_classical_mechanics.pdf

Notes about the "mental process":

The "mental process" I explain in the video is a pedagogic cartoon version of a psychological adaptation, the roots of which are certainly much older and more nebulous than the formulation of classical mechanics.

The basis for this adaptation (or illusion, if you will) is the human tendency to confuse (1) the mental abstractions that our brains build in order to represent the world of our experience with (2) the world itself. Category (1) contains the "things" we think about and that are represented in our language and in our imagination. It is also the domain of mathematical objects. Making meaningful statements about category (2) is much more difficult and it is the purpose of physical theories to make such statements that are meaningful, quantitiative, and true.

While the beginnings of said "mental process" are not as obvious in reality as I make them out to be in the video (for pedagogical reasons), we can certainly say that it reached its climax with the full formulation of classical mechanics and the quantitative determinism implied by this theory. What I called the "confusion" of categories (1) and (2) in the previous paragraph is herein promoted to a quantitative identification of the physical observables from category (2) with mathematical objects from category (1).

Today we know that no such identification is compatible with experiment.

About Edwin Steiner

I create videos about science (physics) and coding in English and German.


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