Afshar experiment, 2

Double slit experiment, 8.2


In the double slit experiment, the screen is used to detect interference pattern itself, causing the photon wavefunctions to “collapse”.

In the Afshar experiment, there is no classically definite position for a photon when the photon passes “through” the vertically wire slits. So there is no interference patterns “formed”, unless you put some kind of screen afterwards. [Me@2015-07-21 10:59 PM: i.e. making the observation, c.f. delayed choice experiment]

— Me@2012-04-09 12:19:52 AM


Being massless, they cannot be localized without being destroyed…

— Photon dynamics in the double-slit experiment

— Wikipedia on Photon



2018.12.23 Sunday (c) All rights reserved by ACHK

The problem of induction 3.1.2

Square of opposition


“everything has a pattern”?

“everything follows some pattern” –> no paradox

“everything follows no pattern” –> paradox

— Me@2012.11.05


My above statements are meaningless, because they lack a precise meaning of the word “pattern”. In other words, whether each statement is correct or not, depends on the meaning of “pattern”.

In common usage, “pattern” has two possible meanings:

1. “X has a pattern” can mean that “X has repeated data“.

Since the data set X has repeated data, we can simplify X’s description.

For example, there is a die. You throw it a thousand times. The result is always 2. Then you do not have to record a thousand 2’s. Instead, you can just record “the result is always 2”.

2. “X has a pattern” can mean that “X’s are totally random, in the sense that individual result cannot be precisely predicted“.

Since the data set X is totally random, we can simplify the description using probabilistic terms.

For example, there is a die. You throw it a thousand times. The die lands on any of the 6 faces 1/6 of the times. Then you do not have to record those thousand results. Instead, you can just record “the result is random” or “the die is fair”.

— Me@2018-12-18 12:34:58 PM



2018.12.18 Tuesday (c) All rights reserved by ACHK

Wavefunction of a single photon

Photon dynamics in the double-slit experiment, 3


What equation describes the wavefunction of a single photon?

The Schrödinger equation describes the quantum mechanics of a single massive non-relativistic particle. The Dirac equation governs a single massive relativistic spin-½ particle. The photon is a massless, relativistic spin-1 particle.

What is the equivalent equation giving the quantum mechanics of a single photon?

— edited Jun 3 ’13 at 19:42

— Ben Crowell

— asked Nov 9 ’10 at 20:38

— nibot


There is no quantum mechanics of a photon, only a quantum field theory of electromagnetic radiation. The reason is that photons are never non-relativistic and they can be freely emitted and absorbed, hence no photon number conservation.

— answered Nov 10 ’10 at 20:00

— Igor Ivanov


You can also say that the wavefunction of a photon is defined as long as the photon is not emitted or absorbed. The wavefunction of a single photons is used in single-photon interferometry, for example. In a sense, it is not much different from the electron, where the wave-function start to be problematic when electrons start to be created or annihilated…

– Frédéric Grosshans Nov 17 ’10 at 10:19


— Physics StackExchange



2018.12.14 Friday ACHK

The problem of induction 3.2

The meaning of induction is that

we regard, for example, that

“AAAAA –> the sixth is also A”

is more likely than

“AA –> the second is also A”


We use induction to find “patterns”. However, the induced results might not be true. Then, why do we use induction at all?

There is everything to win but nothing to lose.

— Hans Reichenbach

If the universe has some patterns, we can use induction to find those patterns.

But if the universe has no patterns at all, then we cannot use any methods, induction or else, to find any patterns.


However, to find patterns, besides induction, what are the other methods?

What is meaning of “pattern-finding methods other than induction”?

— Me@2012.11.05

— Me@2018.12.10



2018.12.10 Monday (c) All rights reserved by ACHK

Double slit experiment, 8


Although the screen itself is a photon position detector, it gets no which-way information. So it can get an interference pattern.

— Me@2012-04-09 7:24:23 PM



2018.11.27 Tuesday (c) All rights reserved by ACHK

The problem of induction 3


In a sense (of the word “pattern”), there is always a pattern.


Where if there are no patterns, everything is random?

Then we have a meta-pattern; we can use probability laws:

In that case, every (microscopic) case is equally probable. Then by counting the possible number of microstates of each macrostate, we can deduce that which macrostate is the most probable.


Where if not all microstates are equally probable?

Then it has patterns directly.

For example, we can deduce that which microstate is the most probable.

— Me@2012.11.05



2018.11.19 Monday (c) All rights reserved by ACHK

Detecting a photon

In the double-slit experiments, how to detect a photon without destroying it?

— Me@2018-11-10 08:07:29 PM


Artlav: I’ve been thinking about the double slit experiment – the one with single photons going thru two slits forming an interference pattern never the less. Now, one thing i was unable to find clarification for is the claim that placing a detector even in just one of the slits to find out thru which slit a photon passed will result in the disappearance of the interference pattern. The question is – how does such detector work? How can one detect a photon without destroying it?

Cthugha (Science Advisor): Well, in the kind of experiment you describe, the photon will usually be destroyed by detecting it. However, in some cases it is possible to detect photons without destroying them. Usually one uses some resonator, for example some cavity, in which photons go back and forth and prepare some atom in a very well defined spin state. Now the atom falls through the cavity perpendicular to the photons moving back and forth and the spin state of the atom after leaving the cavity will depend on the number of photons because the spin precession will be a bit faster in presence of photons. If you do this several times, you will get a nondestructive photon number measurement. However, these are so called weak measurements, so this means you do not change the photon states if you are in a photon number eigenstate already. The first measurement however might change the photon state from some undefined state to a photon number eigenstate.

Reference: physicsforums double-slit-experiment-counter.274914



2018.11.10 Saturday ACHK

Monty Hall problem 1.6

Sasha Volokh (2015) wrote that “any explanation that says something like ‘the probability of door 1 was 1/3, and nothing can change that…’ is automatically fishy: probabilities are expressions of our ignorance about the world, and new information can change the extent of our ignorance.”

— Wikipedia on Monty Hall problem



2018.11.02 Friday ACHK

Visualizing higher dimensions

The trick of visualizing higher dimension is: not to visualize it.

— Wikipedia

— Me@2011.08.19


Besides trying to visualize, there are other methods to understand higher dimensions.

— Me@2018-10-28 04:28:01 PM



What is the meaning of visualization?

— Me@2018-09-02 4:35 pm


feel ~ receive all the data at once

(This definition is not totally correct, but is useful in the meantime.)

visual ~ feel at once through eyes


you can visualize a 3D object ~ you can see all of a 3D object at once

you cannot visualize a 4D object ~ you cannot see all of a 4D object at once


Actually, you can only visualize a 2D object, such as a square.

You cannot visualize a 3D object, such as a cube.

That’s why the screen of any computer monitor is 2 dimensional, not 3.

— Me@2018-10-28 04:32:41 PM



2018.10.28 Sunday (c) All rights reserved by ACHK

Relational quantum mechanics

EPR paradox, 10


Relational quantum mechanics (RQM) is an interpretation of quantum mechanics which treats the state of a quantum system as being observer-dependent, that is, the state is the relation between the observer and the system. This interpretation was first delineated by Carlo Rovelli in a 1994 preprint, and has since been expanded upon by a number of theorists. It is inspired by the key idea behind special relativity, that the details of an observation depend on the reference frame of the observer, and uses some ideas from Wheeler on quantum information.


Relational solution

In RQM, an interaction between a system and an observer is necessary for the system to have clearly defined properties relative to that observer. Since the two measurement events take place at spacelike separation, they do not lie in the intersection of Alice’s and Bob’s light cones. Indeed, there is no observer who can instantaneously measure both electrons’ spin.

The key to the RQM analysis is to remember that the results obtained on each “wing” of the experiment only become determinate for a given observer once that observer has interacted with the other observer involved. As far as Alice is concerned, the specific results obtained on Bob’s wing of the experiment are indeterminate for her, although she will know that Bob has a definite result. In order to find out what result Bob has, she has to interact with him at some time {\displaystyle t_{3}} in their future light cones, through ordinary classical information channels.

The question then becomes one of whether the expected correlations in results will appear: will the two particles behave in accordance with the laws of quantum mechanics? Let us denote by {\displaystyle M_{A}(\alpha )} the idea that the observer {\displaystyle A} (Alice) measures the state of the system {\displaystyle \alpha} (Alice’s particle).

So, at time {\displaystyle t_{2}}, Alice knows the value of {\displaystyle M_{A}(\alpha )}: the spin of her particle, relative to herself. But, since the particles are in a singlet state, she knows that

{\displaystyle M_{A}(\alpha )+M_{A}(\beta )=0,}

and so if she measures her particle’s spin to be {\displaystyle \sigma }, she can predict that Bob’s particle ( {\displaystyle \beta } ) will have spin {\displaystyle -\sigma }. All this follows from standard quantum mechanics, and there is no “spooky action at a distance” yet. From the “coherence-operator” discussed above, Alice also knows that if at {\displaystyle t_{3}} she measures Bob’s particle and then measures Bob (that is asks him what result he got) — or vice versa — the results will be consistent:

{\displaystyle M_{A}(B)=M_{A}(\beta )}

Finally, if a third observer (Charles, say) comes along and measures Alice, Bob, and their respective particles, he will find that everyone still agrees, because his own “coherence-operator” demands that

{\displaystyle M_{C}(A)=M_{C}(\alpha )} and {\displaystyle M_{C}(B)=M_{C}(\beta )}

while knowledge that the particles were in a singlet state tells him that

{\displaystyle M_{C}(\alpha )+M_{C}(\beta )=0.}

Thus the relational interpretation, by shedding the notion of an “absolute state” of the system, allows for an analysis of the EPR paradox which neither violates traditional locality constraints, nor implies superluminal information transfer, since we can assume that all observers are moving at comfortable sub-light velocities. And, most importantly, the results of every observer are in full accordance with those expected by conventional quantum mechanics.

— Wikipedia on Relational quantum mechanics



2018.10.22 Monday ACHK

How far away is tomorrow?


The cumulative part of spacetime is time.

It is the cumulative nature of time [for an macroscopic scale] that makes the time a minus in the spacetime interval formula?

\displaystyle{\Delta s^{2} = - (c \Delta t)^{2} + (\Delta x)^{2} + (\Delta y)^{2} + (\Delta z)^{2}}

— Me@2011.09.21


Space cannot be cumulative, for two things at two different places at the same time cannot be labelled as “the same thing”.

— Me@2013-06-12 11:41 am


There is probably no directly relationship between the minus sign and the cumulative nature of time.

Instead, the minus sign is related to fact that the larger the time distance between two events, the causally-closer they are.

— Me@2018-10-13 12:46 am


Recommended reading:


— Distance and Special Relativity: How far away is tomorrow?

— minutephysics



2018.10.13 Saturday (c) All rights reserved by ACHK

Length Contraction and Time Dilation


Length Contraction and Time Dilation | Special Relativity Ch. 5



I recommend this video.

Without it, I would have never realized that besides length contraction and time dilation, there are also distance dilation and time contraction.

— Me@2018-09-26 10:12:19 PM



2018.09.26 Wednesday (c) All rights reserved by ACHK

The square root of the probability

Probability amplitude in Layman’s Terms

What I understood is that probability amplitude is the square root of the probability … but the square root of the probability does not mean anything in the physical sense.

Can any please explain the physical significance of the probability amplitude in quantum mechanics?

edited Mar 1 at 16:31

asked Mar 21 ’13 at 15:36


Part of you problem is

“Probability amplitude is the square root of the probability […]”

The amplitude is a complex number whose amplitude is the probability. That is \psi^* \psi = P where the asterisk superscript means the complex conjugate.{}^{[1]} It may seem a little pedantic to make this distinction because so far the “complex phase” of the amplitudes has no effect on the observables at all: we could always rotate any given amplitude onto the positive real line and then “the square root” would be fine.

But we can’t guarantee to be able to rotate more than one amplitude that way at the same time.

More over, there are two ways to combine amplitudes to find probabilities for observation of combined events.


When the final states are distinguishable you add probabilities:

P_{dis} = P_1 + P_2 = \psi_1^* \psi_1 + \psi_2^* \psi_2


When the final state are indistinguishable,{}^{[2]} you add amplitudes:

\Psi_{1,2} = \psi_1 + \psi_2


P_{ind} = \Psi_{1,2}^*\Psi_{1,2} = \psi_1^*\psi_1 + \psi_1^*\psi_2 + \psi_2^*\psi_1 + \psi_2^* \psi_2


The terms that mix the amplitudes labeled 1 and 2 are the “interference terms”. The interference terms are why we can’t ignore the complex nature of the amplitudes and they cause many kinds of quantum weirdness.

{}^1 Here I’m using a notation reminiscent of a Schrödinger-like formulation, but that interpretation is not required. Just accept \psi as a complex number representing the amplitude for some observation.

{}^2 This is not precise, the states need to be “coherent”, but you don’t want to hear about that today.

edited Mar 21 ’13 at 17:04
answered Mar 21 ’13 at 16:58


— Physics Stack Exchange



2018.08.19 Sunday (c) All rights reserved by ACHK

Universal wave function, 20

The physical (synthetic) universal wave function logically cannot be found by any local observers.

The definition of “universe” is “all the things”. So there is no outside.

A global observer has to be outside the universe.


However, a mathematical (analytic) universal function is possible.

It applies to theoretical/model universe, which can be used to develop interpretations of quantum mechanics and successively approximate the physical universe.

— Me@2012-04-16



2018.07.21 Saturday (c) All rights reserved by ACHK

Pointer state

Eigenstates 3


In quantum Darwinism and similar theories, pointer states are quantum states that are less perturbed by decoherence than other states, and are the quantum equivalents of the classical states of the system after decoherence has occurred through interaction with the environment.

— Wikipedia on Pointer state


In calculation, if a quantum state is in a superposition, that superposition is a superposition of eigenstates.

However, real superposition does not just includes states that make macroscopic senses.


That is the major mistake of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.

— Me@2017-12-30 10:24 AM

— Me@2018-07-03 07:24 PM



2018.07.03 Tuesday (c) All rights reserved by ACHK

Block spacetime, 9

motohagiography 42 days ago [-]

I once saw a fridge magnet that said “time is natures way of making sure everything doesn’t happen all at once,” and it’s stuck with me.

The concept of time not being “real,” can be useful as an exercise for modelling problems where to fully explore the problem space, you need to decouple your solutions from needing them to occur in an order or sequence.

From an engineering perspective, “removing” time means you can model problems abstractly by stepping back from a problem and asking, what are all possible states of the mechanism, then which ones are we implementing, and finally, in what order. This is different from the relatively stochastic approach most people take of “given X, what is the necessary next step to get to desired endstate.”

More simply, as a tool, time helps us apprehend the states of a system by reducing the scope of our perception of them to sets of serial, ordered phenomena.

Whether it is “real,” or an artifact of our perception is sort of immaterial when you can choose to reason about things with it, or without it. A friend once joked that math is what you get when you remove time from physics.

I look forward to the author’s new book.

— Gödel and the unreality of time

— Hacker News



2018.06.26 Tuesday ACHK

Eigenstates 2.3.2



~ classical states

~ definite states

— Me@2012-04-15 11:42:10 PM


The concept of eigenstate is relative.


First, you have to specify the eigenstate is of which physical observable.

A physical system can be at an eigenstate of one observable but at a superposition state of another observable.


Second, you have to specify the state of that observable is eigen with respect to which observer.

— Me@2018-06-16 7:27 AM



~ of which observable?

~ with respect to which observer?

— Me@2018-06-19 10:54:54 AM



2018.06.19 Tuesday (c) All rights reserved by ACHK

Quantum Computing, 2

stcredzero 3 months ago

A note for the savvy: A quantum computer is not a magic bit-string that mysteriously flips to the correct answer. A n-qubit quantum computer is not like 2^n phantom computers running at the same time in some quantum superposition phantom-zone. That’s the popular misconception, but it’s effectively ignorant techno-woo.

Here’s what really happens. If you have a string of n-qubits, when you measure them, they might end up randomly in [one] of the 2^n possible configurations. However, if you apply some operations to your string of n-qubits using quantum gates, you can usefully bias their wave equations, such that the probabilities of certain configurations are much more likely to appear. (You can’t have too many of these operations, however, as that runs the risk of decoherence.) Hopefully, you can do this in such a way, that the biased configurations are the answer to a problem you want to solve.

So then, if you have a quantum computer in such a setup, you can run it a bunch of times, and if everything goes well after enough iterations, you will be able to notice a bias towards certain configurations of the string of bits. If you can do this often enough to get statistical significance, then you can be pretty confident you’ve found your answers.

— An Argument Against Quantum Computers

— Hacker News



2018.05.17 Thursday ACHK

Van der Waals equation 1.2

Whether X_{\text{measured}} is bigger or smaller than X_{\text{ideal}} ultimately depends on the assumptions and definitions used in the derivation of the ideal gas equation itself.


In the ideal gas equation derivation, the volume used in the equation refers to the volume that the gas molecules can move within. So

V_{\text{ideal}} = V_{\text{available for a real gas' molecules to move within}}

Then, when deriving the pressure, it is assumed that there are no intermolecular forces among gas molecules. So

P_{\text{ideal}} = P_{\text{assuming no intermolecular forces}}


These are the reasons that

V_{\text{ideal}} < V_{\text{measured}}

P_{\text{ideal}} > P_{\text{measured}}

P_{\text{ideal}} V_{\text{ideal}} = nRT

\left(P_\text{measured} + a\left(\frac{n}{V}\right)^2\right) \left(V_\text{measured}-nb\right) = nRT

— Me@2018-05-16 07:12:51 PM


… the thing to keep in mind is that the “pressure we use in the ideal gas law” is not the pressure of the gas itself. The pressure of the gas itself is too low: to relate that pressure to “pressure for the ideal gas law” we have to add a number. While the volume occupied by the real gas is too large – the “ideal volume” is less than that. – Floris Sep 30 ’16 at 17:34

— Physics Stackexchange



2018.05.16 Wednesday (c) All rights reserved by ACHK