TED-Ed Lesson: The Central Mystery of Quantum Physics

My TED@NYC adventure last fall didn't turn into an invite to the big TED meeting, but it did lead to a cool opportunity that is another of the very cool developments I've been teasing for a while now: I've written some scripts for lessons to be posted with TED-Ed. The first of these, on particle-wave duality just went live today.

The content here is very similar to my talk last fall, which is, in turn, very similar to Chapter 8 of Eureka: a historical survey of the development of quantum physics. I did the script for this, which was then turned over to professional animators, who did a great job of finding visuals to go with my words. It was a neat process to see in action, because they did a great job of capturing the basic feel I was after.

I also wrote the supplemental material that's on the TED-Ed video page, for the benefit of anyone who would like to use this in a class. It's pretty challenging to come up with decent multiple-choice questions to go with this stuff...

Anyway, that's the latest of the cool things I've been working on and not able to share. There are more of these in the pipeline; I'm not able to say when they'll go live, but you can expect an announcement here when they do.

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Chad, I'd like to respond to two of your themes in conjunction. One is the central importance of wave-particle duality as a mystery in physics. The other is your comment about General Relativity being as difficult in some ways as quantum theory, and yet people seem way more comfortable about understanding the former. I say that the apparent comfort in grasping relativity is illusory, and my reason is as follows. Causal set theory, which has no spatial relations, but only time relations, is the prominent discrete version of Special Relativity. Its 4-D manifold is a time lattice. Primitive spatial relations are excluded from the manifold, and from anything else in physics, meaning that there is no geometry in causal set theory. Do people understand this? (Russell and Whitehead did, since their event ontology preceded causal set theory, but they are forgotten.) If people cannot understand a discrete theory of relativity, their feeling that they can understand the calculus version is self-deception. Secondly, frequency ratios have been recognized as inherent in standalone causal sets. Frequency ratios serve to define energy ratios in accord with E=hf. The causal link, as the unit of the frequency ratios, is thus the quantum of energy. When the particles are constructed as causal set propagations, they have DeBroglie values with respect to other such particles. Thus both particle and wave characteristics are obtained from discrete causal set constructions, which are relativistic by default. Thus, it is the person who can understand causal set theory, to the depth demonstrated by Russell and Whitehead, who can truly understand relativity and quantum theory, and their reduction to sheer temporal succession. See "Causal Set Theory and the Origin of Mass-ratio" online. -- Carey

By Carey R. Carlson (not verified) on 19 Sep 2014 #permalink

I can't comment on the above. But another fundamental mystery of QM is in the existence of negative probability amplitudes. Interference in the quantum world, with positive and negative amplitudes, does not have a classical counterpart.