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Quantum Toilet Cleaner


ennui
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(As a disclaimer, this won't be the most profound post ever made on SFN. I'm not a physicist and have no real knowledge of quantum theory.)

 

Has anyone else noticed that the word 'quantum' is being used bizarrely these days?

 

I was in the supermarket the other day, and I saw some "Quantum Toilet Cleaner". It was next to the Finish Dishwasher tablets, which were also "Quantum". Accompanying the word were sleek, silvery graphics.

 

In a local bookstore was a book called "Quantum Touch: The Power To Heal". Next to the book were some people discussing how quantum theory means that science has validated their beliefs in angels, chakras and crystal healing.

 

Do any physicists get annoyed at the misuse of the word? It seems as though it's being hijacked by marketing and the New Age movement to promote their own agendas, while possibly misleading the public about the science along the way.

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Do any physicists get annoyed at the misuse of the word?

 

I know what you mean - but really, the word Quantun, just means an amount. Quantum mechanics is the study of things such as energy that come in descrete amounts - "the energy is quantised" just means that the energy just comes is exact amounts.

 

So, I'm going to build a quantum coffe machine! :D It measures out the coffe, water and sugar in descrete amounts. (and some times it dissapears into the next room!).

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do you want to bundle it with my quantum quantum coffee machine tracker?

 

 

Hmmm - not sure about the health and safety aspects of have these 2 machines boxed so closely together -- they are quantum devices after all. Also, I'm sure what effect they would have on my cat.

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yes well obviously we should have manufacturing plants on opposite sides of the world and have a week between shipping dates.

 

although we will need an entanglement plant half way between the manufacturing plants to ensure the tracker is tied to the right coffee machine. might get some customer complaints if it accidentally swaps itself with an elephant, or the inventory of a mexican sewage treatment plant.

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Do any physicists get annoyed at the misuse of the word?

 

Yes.

 

DrP is right: "quantum" means "discrete;" the alternative to quantum is continuum.

 

My favorite Vizziniesque word/phrase (it doesn't mean what the user thinks it means), though, is "space age," as in "space age technology," which is still being bandied about. All that really means is that it's been around since the late 1950's, i.e. 50-60 year-old technology is still space-age. Eight track tapes are space-age technology.


Merged post follows:

Consecutive posts merged
Ha, I just know there's an awesome joke here referencing Schrödinger's cat, but for the life of me I just can't think of it. :D

 

Closest I can get to awesome at the moment is this:

 

Schrödinger's cat walks into the lab and remarks, "This experiment scares me half to death."

Edited by swansont
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Why?

 

Quantum mechanical wavefunctions are only quantized if you set boundary conditions. And this is not really a 'quantum' phenomena, as ordinary waves are similarly quantized (pluck a guitar string and you get one note).

 

The unique thing about QM is that observations change the state of the system, so it would have been better to incorporate that into a name (Observer modified mechanics or something).

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But it deals with discrete entities, right? I mean, there is such a thing as a photon, for example, right?

 

Also, would another way of saying "observer dependent" be to say that entities have indeterminate properties until they interact with something?

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But it deals with discrete entities, right? I mean, there is such a thing as a photon, for example, right?

 

Yes, but that isn't really special to QM. In a classical system you have a fixed number of normal modes for example. Also, ironically, in QM having a discrete number of particles is put in by hand. There is no way of changing particle number, so it remains fixed at whatever you started with. You need Quantum Field Theory to change particle number (using creation and annihilation operators).

 

Also, would another way of saying "observer dependent" be to say that entities have indeterminate properties until they interact with something?

 

It isn't just interaction though. Even with interactions you can tell (when you make a set of measurements) that you get a coherent sum over all possible histories. We don't have any understanding of the mechanism of wavefunction collapse. (And I would content that we can't ever have such an understanding since we can't separate ourselves, as observers, from the experiment.)

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