Saturday 25th of May 2019

double trouble: doing two things at the same time...

double trouble

The double-slit experiment has baffled scientists since 1801. It’s like a hypocritical political speech of Donald Trump or a Mueller’s report: though it does not infer something, it seems to have inferred something. It says two contradicting things at the same time — or is it one after the other? Do we all do this ambiguous shit?…

This is the big question facing the universe.

The Quantisation of particles is a bit like digitisation: On. Off. Zero. One. except that at the infinitesimal dimension there is a third option: on/off zero-one AT THE SAME TIME. This is the present quest for quantum computers. This presents untold possibilities of solving the entire universe existence with a small wrist watch rather than having betabloops of kutoflops computers that occupy a space like a football field or ten Olympic swimming pools (to keep it in the realms of the bogan measuring systems) and still can’t predict the weather more than two weeks in advance. 

Rather than store information using bits represented by 0s or 1s as conventional digital computers do, quantum computers use quantum "bits", or qubits, to encode information as 0s, 1s, or both at the same time. This superposition of states—along with the other quantum mechanical phenomena of entanglement (sharing of state — and change of state — by two separated particles) and tunneling (the quantum phenomenon where a subatomic particle passes through a barrier that cannot be surmounted under the provision of classical mechanics).—enables quantum computers to manipulate enormous combinations of states at once. With entanglement and tunneling, we’re slowly moving towards the magic trick of the double-slit...

This ability for quantum existence in two states at once is the death of god. Imagine this powerful trinity of on/off good/evil and being both at the same time. That would make god one of the most hypocritical absolute creature in space. 

But this has nothing to do with the price of fish. Our behaviour can be as crap or as good as can be imagined in regards to morals, we’re still operating in the positive side of evolutionary existence. Quantum mechanics to the rescue.

Where I was born in Europe, we had electricity. A luxury. Because the house was a four storeys narrow building, we had to have a four way light switch in the old stair case. It looks simple but it’s complicated when done without a “relay” (or a command switch or a timer switch). Here to have light, three of the switches have to be "off", while only one is "on". Turn another switch "on" and the one that was on becomes “off” while all the switches are off. Then you can turn on any one of the switches (only ONE at a time) and the light is on again. Turning on another switch or the same switch would turn the light off. In this thingster “On” and “Off” was meaningless. The toggles could act either way because the wiring had to allow off when it was on and on when it was off. When my dad explained to me the wiring and the switching mechanism, I though it was brilliant. Still is... The concept of multiverse is easier to grasp.

Back to doing the slits…

Quantum mechanics has adopted this fundamental experiment of the double-slit that shows the limitation of the observer to predict experimental results. Richard Feynman, the famous Nobel-Prized quantum physicist, called it a phenomenon which is impossible to explain in any classical way, and which is at the heart of quantum mechanics. For him, it contained the only mystery of quantum mechanics (there are plenty more mysteries for laypersons in QM, but hey). Many physicists have tried to solve this reasonably simple problem and so far “no-one knows” with certainty why this happens. In this essay, Gus will try and fail at it, like the others, just for fun.

For starters, the idea of the double-slit and the calculations suggest that a single particle, from a photon, right up to a smallish molecule, will go through the TWO SLITS AT ONCE when thrown at the double-slit. Try this with the doors of your lounge-room… You may have to split yourself in half and recombine on the other side, with two levels of happening: 1) you recombine brilliantly as if two complete units of yourself had formed on the other side —  and 2) you vanish, all of this at specific intervals, at the same time. Scotty, beam me up but be careful, there’s a problem with the teleport...
Many experiments have been performed, theoretically and practically, and the results have been the same: The particles pass through the two slits at once and create a pattern of interference on a back drop — an interference that is not created with a single slit. This is most observable with light beams and electron beams. Piece of cake, you would say. I know you would: this is a magic trick. I’m sure you’re correct.

To solve this magic trick, Gus would start from the existing proposition that all photons, electrons, atoms and many free molecules have a spin, as well as a wave format. A photon is seen as a wave and as a particle, though both are the same energy unit. Remember Einstein's E = mc2… energy is matter, but is matter energy? So far so good. The foggy bits are a bit further on.

Spin is one of the most fundamental characteristics of all particles. It is also part of political hubris. You say one thing and I should realise you’re talking rubbish but my brains get interferences from conflicting sentiments. I am dazzled by the brilliance of the bullshit. 

So what is spin in the sphere of quantum mechanics?

Spin can be described as such:
In quantum mechanics, spin is an intrinsic angular momentum carried by elementary particles, composite particles (hadrons), and atomic nuclei.

Spin is one of two angular momentum in quantum mechanics, the other being the orbital angular momentum

Spin is why some gun barrels are grooved with a twist and why golf balls have dimples… Spin is the angular momentum of a body spinning upon itself, while the orbital angular momentum is in regard to spinning around another body.
Angular momentum is the quantified rotation of a body, which is the product of its moment of inertia and its angular velocity. It seems like splitting hairs but this is important, otherwise planets would fall into the sun at high speed — spinning tops would have a hell of a time in spin-paradise and your gyroscope would be a mess of directions to follow. 
Much of the calculation of such motion in relation to ellipses was used by Kepler back then in the 17th century. This German astronomer is best known for his laws of planetary motion, providing one of the foundations for Newton's theory of universal gravitation (which did not work, until Laplace [in the Napoleonic era] — an atheist — removed “the hand of god” from it and made it more legit).

In Quantum mechanics, the orbital angular momentum is (but not quite  —otherwise all atoms would become black holes in a jiffy) the quantum counterpart to the classical angular momentum of orbital revolution (planets). The existence of spin (angular momentum of a particle upon itself) is also inferred from experiments — like "day and night".

In some ways, spin is like a vector quantity; it has a definite magnitude, and it has a "direction” which is different from the direction of an ordinary vector. All elementary particles have a magnitude of spin angular momentum, indicated by assigning the particle a spin quantum number. 
A crude example in ordinary mechanics would be like a propeller... Imagine a slowly spinning propeller of say 66 centimetres diameter. and the angle (pitch) of the blades being such that when the prop does one turn, the angled tip of the same blade would have cut through 60 centimetres of water (cavitation excluded). This prop would be designated as a 66/60. 
And to complicate things, we can have VARIABLE pitch. This is why engineers design the best VARIABLE pitch propellers on nuke subs (very often under wraps as to keep the design secret) to get the maximum speed as well as limit cavitation (turbulence like in the stirred veggie soup) and noise (vibration of the water under the influence of the propeller). 

So specific spin is observed in various elementary particle (see below: a photon has a spin of one (1).)

In regard to “free” spin (tumbellining?), A single point in space can spin continuously without "becoming tangled". After a 360-degree rotation, the spiral flips between clockwise and counterclockwise orientations. It returns to its original configuration after spinning a full 720 degrees.


Let’s spin:
First, the photon… Elementary, my dear What’sWhat…

The spin angular momentum of light is the component of angular momentum of light that is associated with the quantum spin and the wave's circular or elliptical polarisation. Hum… The spin of a photon is quantised as 1 (one) and the photon is described as a force carrier particle (boson).

Photon polarisation is the quantum mechanical description of the classical polarised sinusoidal plane-electromagnetic wave. An individual photon can be described as having right or left circular polarisation, or a superposition of the two. Equivalently, a photon can be described as having horizontal or vertical linear polarisation, or a superposition of the two. Whoooooofffff…. Through two slits at once?? Not yet...

The description of photon polarisation contains many of the physical concepts and much of the mathematics of more involved quantum descriptions, such as the quantum mechanics of an electron in a potential well. Polarisation is an example of a qubit degree of freedom, which forms a fundamental basis for an understanding of more complicated quantum phenomena. 

Has my brain exploded yet? Bordeline…

I though the photonic bugger would have been simple to explain since — as "you can see" — one basic property of the photon is to illuminate the back of your eye — the retina — with an image that makes sense once the brain has processed it into “vision”… And trust me, this is even more complicated to make any sense of reality… Get too many photons on your retina and you can become blind — and get not enough and it’s night time… Like the porridge of whatshername, it has to be just right within the spectrum to which we have adapted to in evolution, in order to SEE… We cannot see ultraviolet light (UV), nor infrared light (IR). Some other animals can. Some “light” can penetrate objects such as X-rays. And all these are photons in motion. The only difference is the energy levels (long wave, short wave, ultra short wave, representing the frequency of the energy) at which these photons “travel”. These energy levels will thus give colours. We could go into a cascade of various exciting stuff, re the redshift, but we shall leave this for another time.

The photon is an elementary particle, the quantum of the electromagnetic field including electromagnetic radiation such as light, and thus the force carrier for the electromagnetic force (your electric car engine is driven by photons driving electrons). The photon has "zero" rest mass and always moves at the speed of light within a vacuum. Transparent, translucent and opaque, define properties of different material that act with photons, as well as define the energy levels of the photons. The double-slit experiment exposes another conundrum. We’re slowly getting there.

In regard to the above frequency of energy, it’s a bit like a hammer. the same weight, the same stroke, but a different frequency will result in the nail being pushed into the wood faster or slower. If the weight of the hammer and the stroke is even and the nail does not go in, the wood is “opaque” to this combination. Add more frequency and some materials will “give in”, some won’t. This will give you an X-ray result. The higher the frequency, the more energy is “carried”.

Like all elementary particles, photons exhibit wave–particle duality, exhibiting properties of both waves and particles. A single photon will be refracted by a lens and exhibit wave interference, and can behave as a particle with definite and finite measurable position or momentum, though not both at the same time as per Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. This is at the centre of the quantumatic problem: two defining characteristics of particles cannot be defined at the same time, though particles have both characteristics at the same time — concurrently BUT NOT SEEN AS SUCH. This is definitively a magic trick. 

Any other elementary particles as “force carriers”?

Err. YES!

Here come the Goons, the other BOSONS! (force carrier particles that give matter its cohesion and organised randomity within brackets of energy levels): The GLUONS, the W & Z BOSONS, the GRAVITONS and the HIGGS boson.

Now before going any further with this silly adventure getting less-and-less elementary into the simplicity of What’sWhat quantum complications, we need to explain that without this quantum understanding there would be no atomic bombs. This would be a plus you would say, but in the same breath you would have to realise that your cell-phone (mobile) would be as efficient as a block of wood. Tragic. So the quantum magic trick is important: no quantum tricks means no computers, no quantum chemistry, no life, no sun, no universe. Simple enough.

The heavyweight of the Bosons: a Scalar* Boson — the Higgs Boson

Here I cannot do better explanation than to quote a simple summary of an article in Science Magazine:

For particle physicists eager to explore new frontiers, spotting the Higgs boson has become a bittersweet triumph. Detected in 2012 at the world's biggest atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the long-sought particle filled the last gap in the standard model of fundamental particles and forces. But since then, the standard model has stood up to every test, yielding no hints of new physics. Now, the Higgs itself may offer a way out of the impasse. Experimenters at the LHC, located at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, plan to hunt for collisions that produce not just one Higgs boson, but two. Finding more of these rare double-Higgs events than expected could point to particles or forces beyond the standard model and might even help explain the imbalance of matter and antimatter in the universe. Last week, more than 100 physicists met at a workshop at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, to hone the conceptual tools needed for the search. Projections suggest the LHC will have to run until the 2030s to spot such events, but experimenters think they can beat that estimate as their Higgs-finding methods continue to improve.

*A word has crept in here: scalar… This does not mean the "scalar energy pendants” but a finite-dimensional vector space, using a fixed orthonormal basis, with the inner product written as a matrix multiplication of a row vector with a column vector

In quantum mechanics, bra–ket notation is a standard notation for describing quantum states. It can also be used to denote abstract vectors and linear functionals in mathematics. The notation uses angle brackets (the ⟨ and ⟩ symbols) and a vertical bar (the | symbol), to denote the scalar product of vectors or the action of a linear functional on a vector in a complex vector space.

Have a break. Coffee time

The Higgs boson is an elementary particle in the Standard Model of particle physics, produced by the quantum excitation of the Higgs field, one of the fields in particle physics theory. It is named after physicist Peter Higgs, who in 1964, along with five other scientists, proposed the mechanism which suggested the existence of such a particle. Its existence was confirmed in 2012 by the ATLAS and CMS collaborations based on collisions in the LHC at CERN.

Like chasing rabbits. You don’t know they’re there until you see one, though you long suspected that rabbits existed…

My brain has exploded. See you on the next instalment.

Gus Leonisky
You local quark...

let's spin some more with electricity...

Before slitting the atom through two doors at once, we need to make a pseudo-comparison. What’s matter? 

Matter is a democratic assemblage where particles have to play their parts without demands, nor favours, nor morals. And they don’t have a justice system beyond which state they are at. Simple. They’re just there, combining together because they can, at the level of energy they’re swimming in. Should their environment be too hot (energy level is too high — from plasma to burning stars and black holes) or too cold (superconducting), many of them disintegrate or act funny. Some of these particles under stress will split up into specific next stages after having lived only a fraction of a nanosecond. But their ephemeral life would not have been in vain as they produce some other particles with a value that we can use, such as the electrons. We know what electrons are, don’t we? 

Though we’ve observed “electricity” in thunderstorms for millennium, for too long we had no idea that these were not godsends as punishments for sins (sins we had not committed yet) and we had no idea these lightnings were but a weather phenomenon. Then we started to be able to create small sparks and soon bigger ones, such as Tesla’s. We actually could use electricity, before knowing where it came from. 

Some of us had to place their thinking caps backwards on their cabooche, in order to tame this “energy” into something useful. So we discovered the ability of electricity to magnetise stuff. We started to understand the exchange of electrons between atoms, still not really aware about what was happening.
Electricity was the simplest “force field” we could master. We eventually saw the importance of photons (quantum electrodynamic force carriers) in this happening of exchange of electrons.

We still have major problems with grasping gravity — a force field the carrier of which could be the gravitons as it produces barely observable waves, so far when two black holes collapse… The weakest of all observed universal forces by a million, gravity, yet, is that entity without which the universe would have vanished long ago into the black hole of insignificance. Without the other force carriers, the universe would only still be chaos.

Some of the other forces in the Bosons class are only useful if we want to blow things up with “atom” bombs, where we smash atom nuclei to release so much energy it can destroy entire countries. We need the peace doves to come and talk to us. 

So before studying more of these potentially “explosive” comic Bosons, we need to investigate the electron, which itself has been the most useful particle for us by a long shot, apart from our own existentialistic matter in general — in which electrons have an important life-and-death role. We should mention that though billions of neutrinos in whatever format go through us (our body) daily, they are as good as sand-grit in the Simpson desert to make invisible porridge. Apparently useless. 
But electrons? They are our salvation. They are our partner in crime against the planet, not that they are criminals but we have corrupted a lot of their “magic power” by burning fossil fuel… And highly inefficiently at that. Imagine that coal burning at its maximum efficiency with steam turbines will be around 30 per cent energy created. With an old-fashioned piston steam engine, you would be lucky to collect 12 per cent of energy created by burning coal. 

Burning gas has a maximum efficiency quotient of no more than 35 per cent — this to note, is the least culprit when we are wasting a lot of energy while creating CO2

It could be argued that solar panels (transforming photons into electric energy) efficiency is poor, laying between 15 and 20 per cent, but the counter-argument is that they do not pollute the atmosphere with whatever gases, including not producing any CO2 apart from a small original quantity at the manufacturing stage. Perovskite solar cells are much cheaper to produce but longevity is still a problem though efficiency quotient is now around 25 per cent.
So electrons are simple things… Try again. Electrons are not Bosons but Leptons… This is going to be complicated if we start to investigate the Lepton family.

We swim in electronics, as electrons are the major transference particles of energy — without being “force carrier” because they themselves are using photons to do ”their work". 
An electron is a strange beast with a spin of 1/2 and an "electric” (photonic [electrodynamic]) charge of minus one (-1). Like our four storey staircase lighting system (read from top), assigning positive or negative label is only a system of cataloguing beasts in the quantum world, so we do not confuse ourselves. Matter and anti-matter tends to spoil our brain cells — and we might have to “analogise" dark energy to the dark side of the internet.

In order to keep electrons in check they need an opposing "force” element (note: not a force carrier, except though their own photonic value). This will often (99.999999 per cent) be a proton. Sometimes another lepton can combine for a pseudo nanostufftime with the electrons: the anti-electrons, the POSITRON. Soon, both of them eliminate each other, in an energy release that has been quantified by precise experiments. A proton has a lifetime of more than 10 billion times that of the already existed universe, in “normal” circumstances.

So the basic atom, the most abundant element in the universe by about 40,000 to one, is the hydrogen atom — a one electron-one proton unit. Magic.

This would be simple enough until, through experiments of high energy manipulation leading to the atom bomb, we have known for a while that protons are made of sub-particles. 

These sub-particles are the limit of unbreakable (so far) sub-stuff, called quarks. We, the general public know all about quarks. We don’t. Why should we anyway? They don’t pay our bills — or do they?

The whole quantum thing works experimentally and theoretically. Surprise! And your mobile phone (cell-phone) is still working… while the photon still go through the two slits at once. Weirdo.

More to come...

safe as houses...

Quarks are like bricks of a house (protons) and Leptons (electron family) are like the dirt of the garden. The force carriers (bosons) are like the cement that hold the bricks together. But there are tensions at home. In order to keep the (negative) electrons in check we know that we need a (positive) proton nucleus to form an atom (a property — a house with a garden). The electron spins with two angular momentums around this proton forever — as long as it’s not too hot nor too cold. This is hydrogen, the most abundant atomic configuration in the universe by far, with one proton and one electron.


Simple as houses.

But what happens when things get too hot or too concentrated and we have more kids and their toys scattered in the house/garden? Helium seems to be the first respectable daughter (noble gas) of the big bang… “Unmarriable" and virginal, she lives by herself in her castle. She is the second most abundant atomic configuration in the universe.

She has two protons, two electrons and two neutrons (bugger, another subparticle to talk about, like a second storey on the house)… 

Yet, place Helium and sonny Hydrogen together and things can hot up in a big fight (animated by the screaming bosons): the sun atomic reaction, for example. Most stars are at that level of discord. Lucky us, it provides us with heat and light (showers of photons).

A "simple" proton is a subatomic particle with a positive electric charge of +1 elementary charge and a mass slightly less than that of a neutron (which for all intent and purposes is a proton (+1) that has married an electron (–1) within its core, thus becoming a fully “neutral” particle. Gees… How can this happen?)

Here we need to subdivide the stuff. Say the atom is like a property, the electron is like a garden around the house and the house is divided into various rooms. The simplest house, that of Hydrogen, or Chez basic Baryon in the suburb of Hadron, has three rooms of different sizes. These rooms are called quarks. I think we’ve already visited these rooms before, but here we go again.
The rooms of the proton (the basic house) are three quarks: two (2) up and one (1) down. Please, don’t ask me why they are named such. the up quarks have a spin of 1/2 and an electric charge of 2/3. The down quark has a spin of 1/2 and an electric charge of -1/3. The up quark weighs approximately 2 mega electron volts (MeV), which is a unit of energy, the down quark weighs approximately 4.8 MeV. Meanwhile we know that the Higgs boson weigh 125 GeV.

Bugger, when things were simple with the hydrogen atom, these quantum thingies are getting out of hand… And should we mention the other weirdoes, the other quarks that have been called "Charm, Strange, Top, Bottom"? like lazy tenants who don't do much, and of course all the anti-quarks — all of them including the up and down quarks able to cloak themselves in DIFFERENT COLOURS? No, we won't mention them... but we might indulge in the electronvolt:

An electronvolt is the amount of kinetic energy gained or lost by a single electron accelerating from rest through an electric potential difference of one volt in vacuum. Hence, it has a value of one volt multiplied by the electron's elementary charge e, 1.6021766208 × 10(−19). The electronvolt, as opposed to volt, is not an SI unit (International System of DECIDED measuring sticks).

The electronvolt is empirical, which means its value must be obtained by experiment. Therefore it is not known exactly (if 1.6021766208 isn't exact then what is — oh, I see, there are a few more "uncertain" digits that are behind the humpth decimal here, possibly 89 etc), unlike the litre which is a DECIDED measure. Note: the light-year (and other such non-SI units) are OBSERVED measures in proportion of what we know of other bits.

So what about the quarks? Piece of cake. Two up and one down in the proton assemblage equals 2/3 + 2/3 - 1/3 = +1. Excellent. In order to keep all these happy together, the bosons are actively busy, exchanging energies in between: Quarks are like bricks of a house (protons) and the force carriers (bosons) are like the cement that hold the bricks together. It's a bit more complicated but we'll leave this at that for the moment...

How do we know all this? Yep, there are some crazy people (they must be crazy to do this stuff) who've build the biggest machines like the Large Hadron Collider at CERN to find and weigh the smallest bits in the universe. Amazing. And the system works with a blinding amount of quantum precision. If it did not, we’d be flying off the planet, or burning in hell.

BUT. BUT! But?….
As in Newtonian mechanics, no system made of more than two particles can be solved with an exact analytical mathematical approach (see 3-body problem) and helium is no exception. 
Thus, mathematical methods are required, even to solve the system of one nucleus and two electrons. Such computational methods have been used to create a quantum mechanical picture of helium electron binding which is accurate to within < 2% of the correct value.

The maths show that each electron in helium partly screens the nucleus from the other, so that the effective nuclear charge Z which each electron "sees", is about 1.69 units, not the 2 charges of a classic "bare" helium nucleus. So here is your nobility: proton deficiency, blue blood and snooty electrons...


Next instalment...

My old brain has melted down into a useless blancmange…

Read from top if you're fit and well...

an interlude...

As a god built this complex universe in six days (why six? why not in a jiffy, or is it a question of appreciation as the job is being done on an eight hour day creation programme?) and the Universe built itself in 13.8 billion years from a big bang that probably came about from a singular random deficiency in anti-matter in a well-poised system of pulsing strings, scientists of the present era are dispiriting at the idiots in power, from Trump, Bolton, Pompeo and the failed Hillary. Imagine the most intelligent humans on the planet, the scientists, being relegated to bottom class thinktankers by believing idiots in charge of making decisions and war. Brother!

Yes we know that Trump believes in god — the dollar. The US dollar. Beyond this, the actions of the morons are completely out of line with reality.


Meanwhile the CEO of the AAAS magazines tells us:
The science is clear: Humans are fueling climate change. 

But this sad truth can’t speak for itself. Facts need advocates — especially in this day and age. 

That’s why AAAS is speaking out in Washington and around the country for evidence-based solutions and working with communities to help develop adaptation and mitigation strategies. 

The mission of AAAS is to be a strong voice for science on the largest, most urgent issues facing our planet. As we approach Earth Day, we hope you will stand with us

Yes, we are standing with you, but Gus is skint. No cash in the cupboard. The only thing I can do is relay the cry:


This is why, the reconstruction of Notre dame, already a subject of contention, including Macronleon’s “more beautiful than before” in an impossible time frame and oodles of cash, has attracted Gus fertile (growing on the compost of the universe itself) imagination.
First this building needs to be carbon neutral. I know it does not consume much candle power as the devotion to the saints have been diminishing since the 1900s, but there is a need to show the warming world that we care
Gus’ s first proposal is to fill the entire roof (now flat, but tilted towards the South Pole) with solar panels, giving energy back to the City of Paris. This would be cheaper than the old copper sheeting.  Adding a few decorative stones on the northern side would employ masons for the next ten years, while temporary steel column, to slant the flat roof, would be supporting new stained-glass windows alla Art Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. The next work is to replace that lovely spire with a massive wind mill, a wind turbine that would collect the songs of Paris, and the emptying bellows of accordions, turning them into easy energy on their way to Belgium and the Ardennes. In the interior, there should giant water slides to make kiddies believe that god is benevolent, away from their mobile phones. As well, in case of another fire, the water could be handy in a jiffy
In one of the chapels, some roulette tables would help pay for this reconstruction, but they would to be tastefully designed with the same odds as Blaise Pascal's bet on the existence of the almighty. 
I leave the rest of redevelopment to you.

back to the double slit...

Before going to our double-slit experiment, which is easy to do at home (not really), contrarily to many dangerous things shown on Mythbusters (don’t try this at home — like blowing up a dry-cement truck with a ton of C4), we might need to investigate Mesons. These suicidal particles live in the Hadron suburbia — like the Protons and Neutrons — but they’re a bit loony and very short lived. 

Mesons are composed of one quark and one antiquark, bound together by strong interactions (the gluon force carrier). They have a diameter of roughly one femtometer, which is about 1.2 times the size of a proton (or a neutron). Beaut.

All mesons are UNSTABLE, with the longest-lived lasting for only a few hundredths of a microsecond. Charged mesons decay to form electrons and neutrinos. Uncharged mesons may decay into photons. In these decays, the "colours" of the original quarks are no longer in the byproducts. 

Mesons appear in nature. They are short-lived results of very high-energy collisions between particles made of quarks, such as cosmic rays (high-energy protons and neutrons) hitting ordinary matter. Mesons are also also produced artificially in cyclotron in the collisions of protons, antiprotons, or other particles. We see them all the time, at the LHC...

Each type of meson has a corresponding antiparticle (anti-meson) in which quarks  and antiquarks are replaced by their corresponding antiquarks and quarks. The charm and bottom quarks were long suspected of existing, like the rabbits at top. The charm quark was only first observed in the J/Psi meson (J/ψ) in 1974, and the bottom quark in the upsilon meson (ϒ) in 1977. A lot of particles had to be smashed to eventually see what was happening in hell’s kitchen.

Flavourless mesons are mesons made of a quark and an antiquark of the same flavour… Flavoured mesons are mesons made of quark and an antiquark of different flavours. There, you know all about (you need to know) re these houses that keep destroying themselves in a short time… 

But what is time I hear you ask… A femtosecond could be a near-eternity for a meson… Things change. Things come and go, and “eternity” isn’t a function of matter. Eternity is used in mathematics (infinity) and in religion (god) when we don’t know both ends of the string. We assume. And we die.

Due to the number of quarks (6) and anti-quarks (6) the combination of such can create a huge variety of mesons, from pseudoscalar mesons to vector mesons… The rest is meson history...
This is when we need to go back to our double-slit experiment in order to cool our brains a bit. 

You have a laser pointer at home… No? Well, you can get one cheap at your local hardware store. Most modern spirit levels have a laser pointer to help you mark the horizontability of a wall or whatever. Find a piece of cardboard and cut a small square in the centre of it. find a long hair and stick it stretched across the middle of the square, vertically preferably for ease of observation. Place the cardboard say 30 cm away (see what distance works best, even a metre away) from a wall and shine the laser pointer onto the hair. At this stage you won’t be getting a double slit effect. Instead of a define point, you will get a single-slit pattern on the wall, which will be a horizontal stretched light distortion of the laser point. To get a double slit effect, things could become more complex with a much higher degree of precision. We will try this later on.  

We might have to indulge a bit more with slits… Some experimenters using the crude contraption above, have generated “interferences”, but these were due to the difference of position of the top and bottom of the cut out. To do a proper experiment, one needs a bit more precision. Maths and experiments show that the particles go through the TWO SLITS AT ONCE.

So what is Gus’s explanation?

the not-collapsing matter... in the rabbits' hole...


Before Gus's explanation of the double slit conundrum, we do another long philosophical detour via the USA where quantum mechanics could be losing its flavour — possibly because god let's churches be burned down by whatever mysteries...



No other scientific theory can match the depth, range, and accuracy of quantum mechanics. It sheds light on deep theoretical questions — such as why matter doesn’t collapse — and abounds with practical applications — transistors, lasers, MRI scans. It has been validated by empirical tests with astonishing precision, comparable to predicting the distance between Los Angeles and New York to within the width of a human hair.

And no other theory is so weird: Light, electrons, and other fundamental constituents of the world sometimes behave as waves, spread out over space, and other times as particles, each localized to a certain place. These models are incompatible, and which one the world seems to reveal will be determined by what question is asked of it. The uncertainty principle says that trying to measure one property of an object more precisely will make measurements of other properties less precise. And the dominant interpretation of quantum mechanics says that those properties don’t even exist until they’re observed — the observation is what brings them about.

“I think I can safely say,” wrote Richard Feynman, one of the subject’s masters, “that nobody understands quantum mechanics.” He went on to add, “Do not keep saying to yourself, if you can possibly avoid it, ‘But how can it be like that?’ because you will get ‘down the drain,’ into a blind alley from which nobody has yet escaped.” Understandably, most working scientists would rather apply their highly successful tools than probe the perplexing question of what those tools mean.

The prevailing answer to that question has been the so-called Copenhagen interpretation, developed in the circle led by Niels Bohr, one of the founders of quantum mechanics. About this orthodoxy N. David Mermin, some intellectual generations removed from Bohr, famously complained, “If I were forced to sum up in one sentence what the Copenhagen interpretation says to me, it would be ‘Shut up and calculate!’” It works. Stop kvetching. Why fix what ain’t broke? Mermin later regretted sounding snotty, but re-emphasized that the question of meaning is important and remains open. The physicist Roderich Tumulka, as quoted in a 2016 interview, is more pugnacious: “Ptolemy’s theory” — of an earth-centered universe — “made perfect sense. It just happened not to be right. But Copenhagen quantum mechanics is incoherent, and thus is not even a reasonable theory to begin with.” This, you will not be surprised to learn, has been disputed.

In What Is Real? the physicist and science writer Adam Becker offers a history of what his subtitle calls “the unfinished quest for the meaning of quantum physics.” Although it is certainly unfinished, it is, as quests go, a few knights short of a Round Table. After the generation of pioneers, foundational work in quantum mechanics became stigmatized as a fringe pursuit, a career killer. So Becker’s well-written book is part science, part sociology (a study of the extrascientific forces that helped solidify the orthodoxy), and part drama (a story of the ideas and often vivid personalities of some dissenters and the shabby treatment they have often received).

The publisher’s blurb breathlessly promises “the untold story of the heretical thinkers who dared to question the nature of our quantum universe” and a “gripping story of this battle of ideas and the courageous scientists who dared to stand up for truth.” But What Is Real? doesn’t live down to that lurid black-and-white logline. It does make a heartfelt and persuasive case that serious problems with the foundations of quantum mechanics have been persistently, even disgracefully, swept under the carpet.

Why does that matter? Because, as John Stewart Bell, one of the book’s heroes, believed, the attempt to provide understanding is a moral matter. Dismissing philosophical criticism is not only philistine, it’s bad science. Physics isn’t finished. A theory is not only a way to address the problems at hand; it’s a jumping off point for the next, better, theory. And quantum mechanics is the theory that any new idea in fundamental physics must accommodate.

Quantum mechanics proper began in the mid-1920s with Werner Heisenberg’s “matrix mechanics” and Erwin Schrödinger’s “wave mechanics.” These mathematical formalisms — later shown to be equivalent — unified revolutionary but ad hoc ideas about the atomic and subatomic world that had earlier been advanced by, among others, Bohr and Albert Einstein.

Becker begins his story proper with one of history’s most famous scientific gatherings, the Solvay Conference of 1927. Of its twenty-nine attendees, seventeen were or would become Nobel laureates. Their meeting to discuss the new quantum theory inaugurated a long and famous debate between Bohr and Einstein. Bohr championed the “Copenhagen interpretation,” a name generally believed to have been introduced by Heisenberg in 1955. This was never a precisely defined set of beliefs, but Becker says the core that Bohr’s circle could agree on can be summarized as follows:

● It is not possible, even in principle, to explain the quantum world independently of observation.

● Physics therefore concerns not what nature is but what we can say about it.

● Quantum mechanics is in essence a tool to predict the outcomes of measurements.

These beliefs in turn accorded with the logical positivism of the Vienna Circle, whose ideas were very much in the air. Positivism was more a philosophical movement than a single doctrine. Its themes included: reductionism and a hostility to metaphysics; various forms of the “verificationist” axiom that the meaning of a statement lies in its method of verification and that statements not capable of verification are meaningless; a strong strain of “antirealism,” which held that scientific theories serve only as a way to generate testable assertions and do not imply that the nouns they use denote things in the real world. (Becker goes overboard when he says that positivists ruled out theories referring to entities that could not be directly observed.)

Einstein, by contrast, was a scientific realist: The aim of science is to understand a world that exists independently of our observation; thus, quantum mechanics, despite its impressive success, could not be the whole story. The conventional wisdom about this debate says that a reactionary Einstein, past his prime, couldn’t get with the program, lost the argument, and thereby validated the Copenhagen interpretation. That, says Becker, is a fable — because, among other reasons, few of his opponents understood what Einstein was really driving at.

Bohr and his associates corresponded with the philosophical luminaries of the Vienna Circle. But for most physicists, says Becker, the Copenhagen interpretation amounted not to a carefully considered philosophical position but to a permission slip for dismissing questions, a sort of bar room putdown: Why worry about things you can’t see — such as whether, when you’re not looking, a light beam is made of particles or waves? To respond to this question, it’s worth briefly rewinding.

At the end of the nineteenth century, fundamental physics modeled the constituents of the world as particles (discrete lumps of stuff localized in space) and fields (gravity and electromagnetism, continuous and spread throughout space). Particles traveled through the fields, interacting with them and with each other. Light was a wave rippling through the electromagnetic field.

Quantum mechanics arose when certain puzzling phenomena seemed explicable only by supposing that light, firmly established by Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetism as a wave, was acting as if composed of particles. French physicist Louis de Broglie then postulated that all the things believed to be particles could at times behave like waves.

Consider the famous “double-slit” experiment. The experimental apparatus consists of a device that sends electrons, one at a time, toward a barrier with a slit in it and, at some distance behind the barrier, a screen that glows wherever an electron strikes it. The journey of each electron can be usefully thought of in two parts. In the first, the electron either hits the barrier and stops, or it passes through the slit. In the second, if the electron does pass through the slit, it continues on to the screen. The flashes seen on the screen line up with the gun and slit, just as we’d expect from a particle fired like a bullet from the electron gun.

But if we now cut another slit in the barrier, it turns out that its mere existence somehow affects the second part of an electron’s journey. The screen lights up in unexpected places, not always lined up with either of the slits — as if, on reaching one slit, an electron checks whether it had the option of going through the other one and, if so, acquires permission to go anywhere it likes. Well, not quiteanywhere: Although we can’t predict where any particular shot will strike the screen, we can statistically predict the overall results of many shots. Their accumulation produces a pattern that looks like the pattern formed by two waves meeting on the surface of a pond. Waves interfere with one another: When two crests or two troughs meet, they reinforce by making a taller crest or deeper trough; when a crest meets a trough, they cancel and leave the surface undisturbed. In the pattern that accumulates on the screen, bright places correspond to reinforcement, dim places to cancellation.

We rethink. Perhaps, taking the pattern as a clue, an electron is really like a wave, a ripple in some field. When the electron wave reaches the barrier, part of it passes through one slit, part through the other, and the pattern we see results from their interference.

There’s an obvious problem: Maybe a stream of electrons can act like a wave (as a stream of water molecules makes up a water wave), but our apparatus sends electrons one at a time. The electron-as-wave model thus requires that firing a single electron causes something to pass through both slits. To check that, we place beside each slit a monitor that will signal when it sees something pass. What we find on firing the gun is that one monitor or the other may signal, but never both; a single electron doesn’t go through both slits. Even worse, when the monitors are in place, no interference pattern forms on the screen. This attempt to observe directly how the pattern arose eliminates what we’re trying to explain. We have to rethink again.

At which point Copenhagen says: Stop! This is puzzling enough without creating unnecessary difficulties. All we actually observe is where an electron strikes the screen — or, if the monitors have been installed, which slit it passes through. If we insist on a theory that accounts for the electron’s journey — the purely hypothetical track of locations it passes through on the way to where it’s actually seen — that theory will be forced to account for where it is when we’re not looking. Pascual Jordan, an important member of Bohr’s circle, cut the Gordian knot: An electron does not have a position until it is observed; the observation is what compels it to assume one. Quantum mechanics makes statistical predictions about where it is more or less likely to be observed.


He summarizes the state of quantum mechanics as “a wildly successful theory, an embarrassment of interpretations, and a major challenge in moving past our theory to the next one.” The small but vigorous community doing work on foundations is less marginal than it used to be. The book’s final section sketches some of its current research and concludes modestly that the wisest course at present is accepting a pluralism of interpretations, or “at least humility.” “Quantum physics is at least approximately correct.... We just don’t know what that means yet. And it’s the job of physics to find out.”

But to do that, says Becker, technical ideas about physics must take their place within a larger context. And here he quotes Einstein: “A knowledge of the historic and philosophical background” is necessary for a scientist to become free of the “prejudices of his generation from which most scientists are suffering. This independence created by philosophical insight is — in my opinion — the mark of distinction between a mere artisan or specialist and a real seeker after truth.”




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On this site we are not afraid nor are we cynical about the greatest challenges to understand. We can be satirical about the idiots who think everything is settled by the theory of god. It ain't cutting it. Experiments have shown deeper menaninglessness in the constructs of matter. Yet this has inference. The universe has no morality in it and it's up to us to choose our purpose of survival.

Gus is a rabid atheist.



How do we know? How do we know what? How do we know “particles”? In most cases, it’s like chasing rabbits… We know there are rabbits because of the rabbit dung that could lead us to a rabbit hole… But how do we know it’s rabbit dung, not that of foxes, cats or dingoes? What’s a rabbit?… So many questions… 

In the old days of TV... boy that makes me feel old, I was born before TV! ... Though oscilloscopes had been invented before me...

The “Braun (a German inventor/scientist, who else?) tube" became known in 1897. In 1899 Jonathan Zenneck equipped the tube with beam-forming plates and a magnetic field for sweeping the trace. Early cathode-ray tubes were used experimentally in laboratory measurements from the 1920s, but they had poor stability in the vacuum and of the electron emitters. V. K. Zworykin (a Russian, we already have mentioned him on this site) described his permanently sealed, high-vacuum cathode ray tube with a thermionic emitter in 1931. This was the birth of experimental TV. The rest is dumb shows on the box, but you cannot have everything...

In 1874 Braun had also discovered that semiconductors can "rectifyalternating current. This means that the "negative direction" of AC electrons is turned back into a positive flow. Tweak the management of this "reverse" by various tricks and you can do spooky things. This is not DC (direct current which is boring) but rectified AC (alternating current) going in the same direction as DC, BUT WITH A VARIABILITY. Control this variability and you get “electronics”.

Most electronic management, including in computers, is based on semi-conductors doing their bits. Modern TVs are flat panels using a couple of technologies, including “plasma”, but mostly the LED based emission of photons. The trick is to manage to control this emission of photon at specific tiny spots with a specific intensity of “electronics” so that the light energy is specific to this tiny spot — while other tiny spots, can go from black to white, through the spectrum.

Advertising boards use a similar concept but the spots are huge compared to that of say the “retina” display of your Mac… Technology is fantastic. There are very few manufacturers of such flat screens — my last count was only two, both in… China, though the techno is mostly US. Hence a bit of Trumpish tantrums about China “stealing" US secrets...

In the old days of COLOUR TV, there was a need of THREE electron guns that hit the inside of a glass jar, coated with various secret radio-active (very weak radiation) stuff (mostly from the Lanthanides metals, such as Europium), and would glow according to the RGB (Red Green Blue) light combination. Really spectacular invention! Soon placed in the dustbin of history, replaced by the “flat screen”…

So how do we know what’s what then? Some clever dudes invented the “cloud chambers” soon to be superseded by the “bubble chambers”. The concept is simple: have a medium where particles can flow through, and some come to a rest after having lost “energy” to the medium. The energy of the particles in motion heats up the medium and the medium being in a borderline liquid/gaseous state, will form bubbles along the trace of the particles. Clever, no?... The STYLE OF THE TRACE indicates the type of particle. This of course took time to identify stuff, with many repeats of experiments and massive mathematical models to calculate the loss of energy in various bubble chamber medium, from water to alcohol…

Cloud chambers played a prominent role in the experimental particle physics from the 1920s to the 1950s, until the advent of the bubble chamber. In particular, the discoveries of the positron in 1932 and the muon in 1936, both by Carl Anderson (awarded a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1936), used cloud chambers. Discovery of the kaon by George Rochester and Clifford Charles Butler in 1947, also was made using a cloud chamber as the detector.[1]. In each case, cosmic rays were the source of ionizing radiation.
The bubble chamber is similar to a cloud chamber, both in application and in basic principle. It is normally made by filling a large cylinder with a liquid (often hydrogen) just below its boiling point. As particles enter the chamber, a piston suddenly decreases its pressure, and the liquid enters into a superheated, metastable phase. Charged particles create an ionization track, around which the liquid vaporizes, forming microscopic bubbles. Bubble density around a track is proportional to a particle's energy loss.

So we see the rabbit dungs in vats. Follow the dung with mathematical models and you know which particle is leaving the trace. This is mind boggling, yet superfine art of invention.

These days, scientists use a combination of smashing stuff, HUGE HAMMERS like the cyclotron in CERN in conjunction with other detecting devices that tells them about the debris — the pieces of what they have smashed. By calibrating all the instruments, they can either find something or nothing. It’s a bit like crash-testing a car, trying to calibrate the bits that are the most solid and those that crumple without killing the passenger — who cares about the driver. Simple.

The naming of quarks......began when, in 1964, Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig suggested that hundreds of the particles known at the time could be explained as combinations of just three fundamental particles. Gell-Mann chose the name "quarks," pronounced "kworks," for these three particles, a nonsense word used by James Joyce in the novel Finnegan's Wake:

"Three quarks for Muster Mark!”

   — Three quarks for Muster Mark! 
    Sure he hasn't got much of a bark 
    And sure any he has it's all beside the mark. 
    But O, Wreneagle Almighty, wouldn't un be a sky of a lark 
    To see that old buzzard whooping about for uns shirt in the dark 
    And he hunting round for uns speckled trousers around by Palmer- 
        stown Park? 
    Hohohoho, moulty Mark! 
    You're the rummest old rooster ever flopped out of a Noah's ark 
    And you think you're cock of the wark. 
    Fowls, up! Tristy's the spry young spark
etc (

In order to make their calculations work, the quarks had to be assigned fractional electrical charges of 2/3 and -1/3. Such charges had never been observed before. Quarks are never observed by themselves, and so initially these quarks were regarded as mathematical fiction. Experiments have since convinced physicists that not only do quarks exist, but there are six of them, not three.

Are we going nuts yet? What? Half rabbits? One-third rabbits? Hey, this is QUANTUM MECHANICS, not a fox hunt on King Charlie’s estate…

This videos show the difference between tracks in a cloud chamber from alpha particles, which are bright white, dense, 1-inch long tracks created from Radon decay, and beta particles, which are thin, thread-line tracks left by high energy electrons created from muon decay.

Okay. Coffee time...