Friday, December 30, 2005

Guardian Unlimited Film | Features | The minds boggle

*Scientists' personal reviews of a 'Scientific' firm*

Some scientific theories are complex but we tend to think that we have a grip on it. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don't (obviously). Part of the reason is that we can intuitively understand that we interact with. Thus, most of us have no problems grasping the fundamentals of classical physics or anatomy because of our personal experience interacting with them.

However, certain theories are by nature counter intuitive, particularly so because these theorems involve an aspect of the material world that we simply cannot observe with unaided senses. What I have in mind in particular is that of quantum mechanics, which deal with sub-atomic particles. In this land of the very very small, the rules that apply in classical physics (the laws of the large) simply do not apply. Hence we have the 'spooky' entanglement or the Uncertainty Principle, things that are illogical in our natural frame of the very large.

Popularisers of scientific theories have a tremendous place for laypersons in their 'quest' to understand more about particularly complex and esoteric theories. Obviously, some are better than others. And some just end up looking, sounding and acting like cranks despite, in one case, a Nobel Prize. And the reason is due to some fundamental misunderstanding about the particular applicability of a particular scientific theory.

One in particular is that quantum physics has no place (or more accurately a negligible effect) on our normal referential frame i.e. the world of the large that we live in. It's not possible to transpose certain emphirical facts from quantum physics to that of the world we live in. Hence, entanglement may seem like telepathy or telekenesis but it just does not apply in our real world.

Now obviously, all this means is that this particular scientific theory cannot 'explain' 'supernatural' powers like the above but in no way logically proves impossible the existence of these powers. Well true, but in which case, nothing is impossible. Once you accept the supernatural (the suspension of natural laws), you accept anything.



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