If Ideas Had Shapes

A quoteblog ranging from philosophers in bathrobes to galaxy-rises

Category: Physics

Douglas Hofstadter – Metamagical Themas (1985)

Either you are gentle (using long-wavelength photons) and do not see the electron well, or you are violent (using short-wavelength photons) and throw the electron completely off its course.

To recapitulate: The uncertainty principle states not that the observer always interferes with the observed, but rather that at a very fine grain size, the wave-particle duality of the measuring tools becomes relevant.

Michio Kaku – Physics of the Future (2011)

Magnetic lines of force cannot penetrate a superconductor. This is the Meissner effect. (When a magnetic field is applied to a superconductor, a small electric current forms on the surface and cancels it, so the magnetic field is expelled from the superconductor.) When you place the magnet on top of the ceramic, its field lines bunch up since they cannot pass through the ceramic. This creates a “cushion” of magnetic field lines, which are all squeezed together, thereby pushing the magnet away from the ceramic, making it float.

Michio Kaku – Physics of the Future (2011)

Pound for pound, fusion releases 10 million times more energy than gasoline. An 8-ounce glass of water is equal to the energy content of 500,000 barrels of petroleum.

Michio Kaku – Physics of the Future (2011)

…All these statements sound ridiculous. In fact, Einstein once said, “the more successful the quantum theory is, the sillier it looks.” No one knows where these bizarre laws come from. They are simply postulates, with no explanation. The quantum theory has only one thing going for it: it is correct.

Steven Weinberg – Dreams of a Final Theory (1993)

Electrons are an essential part of our everyday world; the particles called muons and tauons hardly matter at all to our lives; yet, in the way that they appear in our theories, electrons do not seem in any way more fundamental than muons and tauons. More generally, no one has ever discovered any correlation between the importance of anything to us and its importance in the laws of nature.

(quoted in The Portable Atheist)

Kenneth Ford – The Quantum World (2004)

Physicists themselves often say that their heads swim when they think too hard about quantum mechanics. As I have stated earlier in this book, quantum mechanics is eerie not just because it violates common sense. It is strange for deeper reasons: it deals with unobservable quantities; it shows that nature’s fundamental laws are probabilistic; it permits particles to be in two or more states of motion at the same time; it allows a particle to interfere with itself; it says that two widely separated particles can be entangled.