In this most recent section of The Fabric of the Cosmos, an important question that I had been wondering about was brought up in the beginning of the chapter: “In fact, does wave function collapse really happen, and, if it does, what really goes on at the microscopic level?” The book describes this problem as the quantum measurement problem. The first explanation given by the chapter deals with Bohr saying that we are looking too far into the issue and that quantum mechanics is much more shallow than we anticipate. This resolution does not satisfy me because it seems like there truly is something underlying quantum physics. The next explanation says that there is never actually a wave. Instead, the different possibilities of the particles are expressed in parallel universes. this resolution does not satisfy me because wouldn’t there have to be an infinite amount of parallel universes to satisfy the particles that make up a wave? The final explanation, and one that makes the most sense, says that there is an uncertainty principle. Simply, we can not know both things at once.
I thought that this worksheet really brought a new aspect to the experiments we have been studying in The Fabric of the Cosmos recently. In class we asked the question: Does a particle change the past when going through these experiments?” The other option that could potentially be happening is that the particle knows the future. Either way, the long range experiment with observing the quasar on earth enhances these potentially true aspect of a particle. In the experiments we have been studying, if the particle did change the past, it would have only changed milliseconds of the past. However, in this hypothetical observance of a distant quasar, the time that the particle would effect would be light years. This makes me wonder how much quantum physics affects space when we observe it. When we look at something in space, could it potentially change the way space is formed in the future? Potentially.
In the second part of chapter seven of The Fabric of the Cosmos, a development on the first experiment we studied is present. This new experiment deals with erasing the past. The book asks the question: Assuming you can not change the past, is there anything you can do to change something’s impact on the present? In the experiment conducted in this section of chapter seven, an photon gun shoots photons towards a double slit screen and a detector is placed to see which slit the photon goes through. Because the photons are being observed, as predicted two separate lines appear on a detector, but when a screen is placed in front of the detector that erases the known position of the particle, an interference pattern forms. This experiment is similar to the earlier experiment in this chapter and I understand the results. The thing that I do not understand about the experiment is how a screen can all of the sudden erase the position of a particle. I do not see how that logically can work out.
After our break in The Fabric of the Cosmos for Planetary, we returned to the book learning about an experiment which proves the affect of observation on a particle. The experiment involves a particle shooter which directs individual protons toward a particle deflector, which deflects the particle either one way or another. There is a particle detector on one of the two paths that the particle can take. Then the particles hit a mirror and are reflected toward a device that detects many of the photons’ location. The result of the experiment proved a key concept of quantum physics: the observance of a particle. When the “which-path” detector was turned on, a single line appeared on the screen but when the process was repeated in the same manner, an interference pattern appeared on the screen. This results bring many important questions to the table. For example: Does observing a particle change the past? Or does the particle somehow know the future and that it will be observed?
In the second book of Planetary, more intriguing physics topics were brought to the table. From aliens to quantum physics, many plausible physics topics were touched on. The first topic I want to cover from the second edition of the Planetary was the experiments on the humans. The experiments done on those humans remind me of a more futuristic version of what the nazis did back when hey were in control. The idea of aliens and monsters being involved in the comic was another sci-fi like idea being incorporated into the Planetary. Along with many of the other ideas in this comic series, I find both of the idea of aliens and monster creatures to be have a slim chance of becoming reality.
In the final chapters of the first planetary comic book, several physics concepts that invoke thought were brought to the table. The sorts of conspiracies and concealed ideas throughout the comic book have been an important bit that i wanted to expand upon. I think that even today these types of theories flourish. Whether it is with government covering up things like aliens or classified weapons, the public remains skeptical of the government. Although this is less physics related, it is another important detail which I think can be compared to the world we live in today. The final idea I want to cover within the first planetary book is William Leather, the superhuman that Snow gets into a fight with towards the end of the book. He seems to have figured out the whole idea of the snowflake and has somehow utilized that power to make hi superhuman. Could a human somehow utilize a power like this in tray’s world? I think it would be very unlikely, but nevertheless it is still something to ponder over.
After being introduced to the idea of using a comic book as a study aid in the first two chapters of planetary, the next two chapters assigned also involved a variety of relevant physics topics. The third chapter of the first Planetary book involved the ghost who came back to revenge his death. I picked up on two physics topics from this chapter. The first involves the ghost’s ability to pass through objects, particularly when he passed through the oncoming car while shooting the driver ad passenger. Could this type of movement through objects somehow be possible through some type of Quantum physics. The other physics topic covered in this section was the thing that came out of the ground. What was it? The book describes it as being some type of hard drive where the human can store the information. Could humans somehow be used in this way to store information? The structure is described as containing the information of the world.