A misconception that can exist, in Quantum Mechanics.

First of all, I need to admit that I did not study Quantum Mechanics. I did study Physics, however, and have had numerous discussions with people, who either:

  • Studied Quantum Mechanics independently, Or
  • Studied Quantum Mechanics formally.

And those discussions have made me aware of a misconception that can exist, about how the wave-function of particles lead to measurement, but which will certainly not exist, for people who have studied the subject formally.

I have already made a posting, about The Myth Of Wave-Particle Duality, in which I highlighted what I see as an absurdity, in how the wave-function of particles is commonly defined. And, having written that, I should also point out, that the common sense which QM applies, not to treat Complex Eigenvalues as representing real properties of a particle, fails to spill over, to Complex Probabilities.

Even though the wave function of certain particles can be taken to exist factually, attempts to measure it as belonging to one particle will cause it to collapse. However, the way some people may visualize it, would be, that the wave-function continues to exist, simply because the Universe seems to be filled with waves, that continue to exist. And this is an especially possible misinterpretation of QM when the particle in question is a photon, just because low-energy photons, that lead to long and obvious wavelengths – i.e., radio waves and light from lasers – are so commonplace.

What happens with these obvious waves is that, most of the time, a large number of photons contribute to those waves, in such a way that each photon is being absorbed, in order for the actual wave to have been measured. And, when the photon is absorbed, as I have written elsewhere, it has also been ‘witnessed’, so that it is no longer in a superposed state. And, because one photon has been absorbed, it has also ceased to exist.

Even the way photons ‘work’ changes drastically, when individual photons have been measured. Modern physics is capable of measuring individual photons. When this happens, the detection of one photon either took place or did not. This can also loosely be described as ‘a click’, in contrast with ‘a wavelike phenomenon’, even if a more sophisticated method has been used, than methods that produce audible clicks. And it continues to be true for the low-energy photons, of which there will typically be a greater number, as it was with high-energy photons, that Historical Technologies such as a Geiger Counter were able to detect. This digital existence of single photons, when measured as such, is universal.

I suppose that a valid question which the reader may next ask could be, ‘How would this apply to Quantum Computing, which factually performs computations, based on wave-functions?’ And, there are basically two types of answers which I can think of. The actual Quantum Computer is a tiny device, that can work with individual photons, But:

  • When Scientists measure the output of a Quantum Computer, they may be using a larger number of actual Quantum Computers, all performing exactly the same computation, but in such a way that the combined light intensity is high enough to be measured directly at any instant in time, Or
  • They may be amplifying the photon which one Quantum Computing core actually outputs, so that one output photon leads to a more macroscopic phenomenon, through which Scientists can read the result of a Quantum Computation, Or
  • The optics of a single Quantum Computing core can cause numerous photons to perform the same computation.

Either way, even though the state within the Quantum Computer was defined in terms of QBits, what gets measured as output, is no longer so. Therefore, the Quantum Algorithm needs to be programmed in such a way, that the ability either to measure a photon or not to, will still lead to a successful experiment.

What I do know additionally is, that if the photon output by a Quantum Computer has been amplified, let’s say by a laser-like device, any superposition of the wave-function of the original photon has been collapsed, because, when lasers are used as light amplifiers, they also witness the Quantum State of the initial photon. (:1) At that point, the Quantum Computation has definitely ended.


 

 

One of the more remarkable observations I seem to have made about QM is, that ordinary refraction or reflection of light, such as by metallic surfaces or glass, does not seem to witness the photons. Anecdotally, the reader may present himself to his washroom mirror in the morning, secure in the knowledge that the mirror did not witness what the reader sees.  ;-) This form of light can continue in some superposed state. The reason I’ve concluded this, is the large number of experiments which Scientists carry out, and then write about, and which still seem to succeed, in spite of the fact that the Scientist’s apparatus has refracted or reflected the light used.

Now, whether the Scientist actually noticed, that he was refracting or reflecting the light, is a separate question. I suppose that if the experiment failed, the next thing the Scientist will naturally do, is search for why…

(Updated 7/12/2020, 14h55… )

Continue reading A misconception that can exist, in Quantum Mechanics.

Photon Polarization / Superposition of States

We can ask ourselves what the subject ‘looks like’, at the single-particle level, of polarized light. We know that at the level of wave-mechanics, both plane-polarized and circularly-polarized light are easy to understand: Either way, the dipole-moments are at right angles to the direction of propagation, all the time, even if randomly so. But there also needs to be a particle / photon -based explanation for all the properties of light, in order to satisfy the demands of Quantum Mechanics.

And so a key question could be phrased as, ‘If we pass randomly-polarized light through a simple linear polarizer, which consists of a gel-block, and which absorbs EM vibrations along one disfavored axis, maybe because it has been made ohmic along that axis, why is the maximum intensity of plane-polarized light that comes out, in fact so close to 50% of the intensity, of the randomly-polarized beam that went in?’ Using wave-mechanics, the answer is easy to see, but using particle-physics, the answer is not so obvious.

And one reason fw the answer may not be obvious, is because we might be visualizing each photon, as being plane-polarized at an angle unique to itself. In that case, if the polarizer only transmits light, which is polarized to an extremely pure degree, the number of photons whose plane of polarization lines up with the favored angle perfectly, should be few-to-none. Each photon could then have an angle of polarization, which is not exactly lined up with the axis which the polarizer favors, and would thus be filtered out. And yet, the strength of the electric dipole-moment which comes out of the polarizer, along the disfavored axis, could be close to zero, while the total amount of light that comes out, could be close to 50% of how much light came in.

If each incident photon had been plane-polarized in one random direction, then surely fewer than 50% of them, would have been polarized, in one exact direction.

(Updated 04/10/2018 … )

Continue reading Photon Polarization / Superposition of States

About Why the output of a Laser is so Wavelike

The subject of wave-particle duality continues to mystify commoners, while the ultimate explanation given by experts, who need to be schooled in Quantum-Mechanics for years, before they are exposed to these secrets, seem to defy some common-sense reasoning. More specifically, the way in which Quantum-Mechanics mainly explains it, is that the wave-phenomena, specifically those that take place in a vacuum, only exist as being secondary to the existence of particles. We think we can see many examples in our practical world, where waves ‘seem real’.

One such example is the beam of light output by a Laser, that is both monochromatic and coherent, that is highly parallel, and that only seems to make its wave-nature obvious. It is this ultra-high consistency of the wave-nature of a Laser-beam, that also makes it useful for creating holograms – aside from the fact that the beams output from these devices have many more uses today.

But in a way that might disappoint some skeptical thinkers, this nature of the light output from a Laser is actually predicted by Quantum-Mechanics, and fails to provide a contradiction to it. And I will explain why.

Quantum Mechanics is largely built around the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, although Heisenberg did not dare to assign complex numbers to his probability clouds yet. Those probability clouds are supposed to represent the superposed states of a particle, with the additional detail that they can be phase-shifted according to understanding today, which means that they seem to conserve a two-component number – i.e. a complex number.

What the uncertainty principle seems to state, is that the precision with which the position of a particle can be known, is inversely proportional to the precision with which its momentum-vector can be known, and vice-versa.

Photons are understood to have momentum vectors, even though when the photon-energy is low, such as for visible light, that momentum-vector also has low magnitudes. But the momentum-vector of a photon is supposed to follow entirely from the direction-vector it is traveling with, as well as being inversely proportional in magnitude, to its wavelength. The energy of the photon is also inversely proportional to its wavelength.

Because of the nature of the light output by a Laser, all the variables needed to know the momentum-vector of its photons are known – and are exactly equal. So the precision of their momentum-vectors is actually zero – i.e. their momentum vectors should have a variance of zero, based on the fact that they are parallel and fully monochromatic.

And so it would only seem to follow from the Uncertainty Principle, that the variance with which their position-vectors should be knowable, should be off-the-scale. By that logic, the position-vector of any one photon in the beam, cannot be knowable.

And so we seem to obtain a beam of light, only the wave-nature of which is knowable.

Dirk