Monday, October 24, 2011

Where's Waldo (Quantum Style!)

Where's Waldo:  One of the great books of our time, a book which poses and even greater question. Where exactly is Waldo (or Wally, if you're from 'cross the pond) 
 Well, many may say simply "There he is!" and point to him. after all, we can see him right there, Za Waldo! However, the mere fact that you are looking at him changes the probability that he is in fact there. He may or may not have been there a moment ago, and truly he may not even be there now.

Well we could could sum it up as "Waldo is in Waldo-Land". and while that would be so very nice and easy to believe, it is not the case. There is a standing probability of where he might be, and that probability increases as we get to Waldo-land. But that is only if we set Waldo-land as the nucleus of the orbitals (be they S, P, D, F, or otherwise). But as the size of the probability decreases, the number of possible Waldos to find increases drastically. So while there may be alot more of them to find as we decrease in probability, there is, in reality, less of a chance of finding any of them. But, in reality, there is an equal chance he is in Waldo-land as he is in any other place... that is, until you look at him.   However, once you see him and know precisely where he happened to end up, you know absolutely nothing about how he got there or how fast he arrived... wherever "there" may be, whether it happened to be on a Waldonian orbital or otherwise.                              
"well now see here" you may say "what if I saw him leave, what if I saw him go a certain direction? shouldn't I know where he will end up"  Well friend, you should, but you won't. As the knowledge you have of where is is currently increases the knowledge you have of where he will end up dramatically decreases. And as you watch him drive away in his car, don't look at his speedometer, whatever you do! As you know how fast he is moving you then lose any information you could have gained about where he will end up.   
Is it any wonder those darned books were so hard as kids!

You know, Schrodinger once accidentally left waldo in a box... 

Oh! There he is, that pesky little guy! ... Never mind then, all this, he was just behind that lady's ear...

P.S. For more Quantum Fun, check out the cartoon I drew in my Oodles of Doodles Page on the toolbar above.

1 comment:

Hannah Hillam said...

This post gave my brain a tummy-ache.