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Monday
Mar072011

Physics at the edge... of philosophy: Lecture 3 video

In our daily lives we rely on the stability of our observations of the world, we expect events to follow predictable patterns. A sense of certainty and even determinism is an implicit and integral part of human experience. When we see a chair, for instance, we know it is physically present at an observed location; we are certain of its existence, and assume that we could walk over and sit on it.

Unfortunately—or, perhaps, fortunately— this is only an approximation to reality! Quantum mechanics tells us that, in fact, nothing is certain, that everything is possible at once. Nature itself is a set of probabilities: we can only talk about the likelihood of a chair being in a particular location, and about the likelihood of it remaining there a second from now… However crazy and disturbing this may sound, this is reality - tested extensively in numerous experiments, and used to build superconductors, lasers, and many other—almost magical—materials and instruments.

Quantum mechanics also tells us that the void is not empty, and this fact actually syncs well with our notions of the universe and its evolution. In this lecture we will discuss quantum mechanics and its philosophical implications. We will think about uncertainty in the world and ask ourselves what the void is.

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