Explaining Quantum Physics to Newton… in 140 characters

Sir Isaac Newton is considered by many as the greatest physicist of all time. But despite Newton’s contributions to classical physics, the man never even fathomed that the world was actually governed by the equations of quantum mechanics. We think it is time to right that wrong. With your help, we plan to send a Tweet back in time (something about time machines restricts quantum telegraphs to 140 characters) that explains what quantum is all about to Sir Isaac. This mini competition is taking place on our Twitter account over @IQIM_Caltech and ends on November 5th, 2015. The prize is a one-year digital subscription to Scientific American.

For more details, please see below. This mini competition is part of Quantum Shorts, a flash fiction competition conceived and executed by our friends at the Center for Quantum Technologies.


Let the games begin!

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About spiros

Spyridon Michalakis does research on quantum many-body physics and topological quantum order at Caltech's Institute for Quantum Information and Matter, where he is also the manager for outreach activities.

5 thoughts on “Explaining Quantum Physics to Newton… in 140 characters

  1. (I don’t use twitter, pls forward it to Isaac if you think)
    At very small sizes, there is but wavelike motion. Still, here or there, at random, you find something like a particle. Just try, it works!

  2. When ordinary words won’t do …
    quantum dynamics & performative informatics

    When nobody watches
      dynamical flow
        state-space is vast.

    But who can disentangle watchers
      who each compress the flow?
        No one.

    Kudos to Scott Aaronson’s weblog Shtetl Optimized, whose discourse associated to the essay “Ordinary Words Will Do” illuminates (for me anyway) the entangled performative elements of quantum dynamics and David Hockney’s “joiners”.

    • Sorry for the duplication! Please delete the above-comment, leaving in-place the duplicate-comment (below) … this will clear the way to post a deconstruction of the poem as a Ted-Chiang-inspired quantum homage to David Hockney’s Joiners.

    • Caveat  I have several citation-rich comments to make in regard generally to the role(s) of “A” in “STEAM”, and concretely in regard to poetic appreciation(s) of quantum dynamical systems.

      Quiz  As a warm-up, which of the following entropy-themed rhymes is written by a scientist so famous that a memorial stone in Westminster Abbey honors them, and which is written by a poet so famous that a memorial window in Westminster Abbey honors them?

      Poet A

      I come from empyrean fires —
      From microscopic spaces,
      Where molecules with fierce desires,
      Shiver in hot embraces.

      I come from fields of fractured ice,
      Whose wounds are cured by squeezing,
      Melting they cool, but in a trice,
      Get warm again by freezing.

      Poet B

      Change is the diet on which all subsist
      Created changeable, and change at last
      Destroys them. Skies uncertain, now the heat
      Transmitting cloudless, and the solar beam
      Now quenching in a boundless sea of clouds,
      Calm and alternate storm, moisture and drought,
      Invigorate by turns the springs of life
      In all that live, plant, animal, and man,
      And in conclusion mar them.

  3. I think this credit must go to Leibniz who introduced the concept of action and also of Monads as the smallest pieces of action. He only could not anticipate that the smallest action is about 6×10^-27 erg sec. This required physics measurements.
    F. Winterberg

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