Monday, December 20, 2010

Quantum Physics and Bilocation

Robert Heinlein commented that "not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine," quoted by Ordered Liberty in linking to an article about "the scientific breakthrough of the year," which "represents the first time that scientists have demonstrated quantum effects in the motion of a human-made object" — Einstein was right, you can be in two places at once.

"The question whether the same finite being (especially a body) can be at once in two (bilocation) or more (replication, multilocation) totally different places grew out of the Catholic doctrine on the Eucharist," begins the 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia article on Bilocation. The article on Miracle defines the term as follows: "In general, a wonderful thing, the word being so used in classical Latin; in a specific sense, the Latin Vulgate designates by miracula wonders of a peculiar kind, expressed more clearly in the Greek text by the terms terata, dynameis, semeia, i.e., wonders performed by supernatural power as signs of some special mission or gift and explicitly ascribed to God."

That what we define as miraculous may be explained by science is scandalous to some believers, but I believe it need not be.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Pints in NYC said...

I cannot stress enough how much I recommend C. S. Lewis' book: "Miracles".

Take it up and read. It is a wonderful book on so many levels.

His chapter on logic, I believe Chapter 2, ain't not walk in the park like Narnia. But overall the entire short book is accessible and IMPORTANT.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Great work drawing out the implications of the story re: faith and science. And I think you are spot on about seeing a harmony between God's work and science. As Pints in NYC points out, Lewis has developed that theme in his own work as well.

Thanks for the link! And keep up the great work!

1:18 PM  
Blogger M.Z. said...

Since I'm beginning studies in the area, I'm a bit surprised to see Einstein cited as an authority of QM when he didn't believe in QM and was once of its bigger critics. Without having read the article, it sounds like people are confusing issues, probably somewhere between the probabilistic nature of QM and the Uncertainty Principle.

9:29 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Pints, thanks for the recommendation!

Mark, thanks for the original post!

M.Z., thanks for the comments. I believe Einstein's opposition was mentioned in the article. I'd be interested in how you are pursuing your studies in the area. Any texts you can recommend for the layman?

5:03 PM  
Blogger M.Z. said...

I have read the article now. There is a particular paradox in QM that Einstein helped author, but I'm not familiar with it and it doesn't appear that is being referenced. They discuss the photoelectric effect for which he got his Nobel, but that doesn't really seem applicable here.

It looks like a practical application of tunneling. That problem is one where you have a potential barrier higher than the energy of the particle, but the particle is found on the other side of the barrier. Classically, it is like rolling down a hill on a roller coaster and scaling a hill higher than the one you came down, something you can't do without adding energy.

I'm in school pursuing my bachelor's in engineering and physics. I might go on to grad school. Unfortunately, I can't make any recommendations for study. Everything I've seen so far that isn't a gross simplification requires a heavy math background that is close to my own limits. If you've done some diff eq and know about eigen problems, you should be able to make it through a decent textbook on the matter, but I would recommend learning this with a good professor.

6:39 AM  

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