Talk #10, 5/5/04

Irreverent Quantum Mechanics

Giancarlo Borgonovi

Quantum Mechanics is (arguably) the most significant intellectual achievement of the 20th Century. I believe these to be the reasons:

  • QM is totally counter intuitive
  • QM was created/invented to explain phenomena only indirectly accessible to our senses
  • While QM was created/invented to explain phenomena in the eV energy range (atomic spectra)it has maintained its validity up to the GeV energy range (11 orders of magnitude)
  • In 80 years since its creation, it has not been proven wrong.

In this presentation I have tried to illustrate some concepts of QM using some weird, original illustrations and metaphores.The notation of QM for state vectors, operators, transitions, is illustrated in an antropomorphic way. The peculiarnature of angular momentum, which comes in chunks or “bricks” of equal size is illustrated. The rules that govern the buildupof the periodic table of elements are interpreted to show that nature favors ability over weirdness.

The entire universe is made up of two types of particles, bosons and fermions. How do they differ,and what are the statistical and practical consequences.

Second quantization, quantum fields, and virtual particles are touched on in a light hearted way. Finally, a geometricalconcept from the quantum theory of periodical lattices, the Brillouin zone, is hijacked and used as an excuse for a long overdue approach to quantum gastronomy…


The following is a link to the full PowerPoint presentation.