Quantum Strangeness/Quantum Gravity

In Podcast by Brian Koberlein8 Comments

Quantum mechanics is perhaps the most accurate theory devised, and yet it’s one of the most subtle and difficult to understand. Why exactly is that? Today we’ll talk to Dr. Ed Hach, Assistant Professor of Physics at the Rochester Institute of Technology, about quantum mechanics and why it happens to be so strange. In the second half we’ll talk about the difficulty of combining quantum theory with another well established theory, general relativity.

Host: Brian Koberlein
Guest: Ed Hach
Producer: Mark Gillespie
Music: Marcus Warner

The One Universe at a Time Podcast is produced at the Rochester Institute of Technology with support from the RIT College of Science.


  1. Great show.

    Thanks for explaining that QM works well with Newtonian gravity, I always wondered about that and never knew the answer.
    And the segment about what renormalization is was very clear as well.

  2. Speaking as a non-mathematician layman…

    IMO the Boltzmann brain idea that a universe is more complex than a deluded brain, doesn’t work upon some introspection. Because in actuality a universe is simpler than a brain.

    Why? Because a quantum fluctuation doesn’t have to be responsible for creating a whole universe atom by atom. It only needs to create the right set of physical laws and constants, and then the universe will settle itself as an emergent phenomenon.

    But to create a brain? There’s no way to just flux a set of equations that would settle itself into an instantaneous brain with an instantaneous consciousness. You need to flux the physical laws and constants first, allow the universe to emerge as phenomena, then allow life and evolution to emerge as phenomena, then finally allow the brain you need. At which point it’s not a Boltzmann brain, just a normal brain.

    1. Addendum: Sorry, the actual idea of the Boltzmann brain is that it’s simpler to instantly create such a brain by accident than to instantly create the universe by accident. That’s even more false.

      To create a structure like a brain “by chance”, without taking advantage of lower-order patterns to allow it to emerge as phenomena, would require an absurd amount of information.

      In contrast, we know the universe didn’t just pop into its current complex state instantaneously or randomly. It’s an emergent phenomena arising from physical laws, i.e. maths and constants and equations. In information theory, that is insanely simpler, no matter how “hard” we think the math is.

      1. Final Addendum: I didn’t read the above from anywhere, I just thought of it while listening to the podcast. So I’m feeling very intelligent right now. If you must pop my swollen head, please do it gently. 🙂

  3. Pseudo science for sure but- What if the nuclear strong force is simply gravity at the atomic level or vice versa, and by positively charged up/down quarks of difft variety and spin, we create relativistic phenomenon within the atomic structure. So quarks of neutrons and protons spinning near the speed of light generate more mass and decrease volume within the atomic structure. Matter being positive space shrinks, and the negative space surrounding fills the change to accomodate the low pressure density field, thus curving spacetime. This doesnt negate that gravity can also on larger scales (more familiar to general relativity) increase in strength across spacetime from things like velocity, inertia, spin, but they would be a reaction to the fundamental force, what we call the Nuclear Strong force, which is simply gravity occuring at atomic levels. Gravity increases in magnitudes of strength based on mass, if a super-massive object passes by earth we won’t hardly change its trajectory, A small meteor on the other hand will be entirely overtaken and head to the center of out mass. Take that different and apply it to something as tiny as an atom and gravity is no longer weak but infitesmally stronger. I think the same could be said with the electro-weak force and EM, same force just acting on two bodies with stark difference in massive proportion that the force simply appears (from a human perspective) to be different, because we are trained in classical mechanics/logical reasoning, but lack a coherent contextual construct, with regard to the wide variations between space and proportion.

    There is really no difference in the environment and things within the environment, Does effects on spacetime not occur within positive space or matter, everything is the environment.

    1. Jeff, that’s an interesting idea, but I think it fails even simple tests.

      For example, the behavior of quark, gluons, etc is very well described by the Standard Model (of particle physics), and that behavior does not resemble what Newton’s universal law describes, not even the simple inverse square law etc, much less Einstein’s General Relativity.

      The electroweak force is understood to be the unification of the weak and electromagnetism, at ‘high energy’. At the energies we typically encounter, the symmetry between these two is broken, and in these energy regimes they appear as different forces.

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