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Quark Quartet Fuels Quantum Feud

08/31/2014 3:13 PM

Newly discovered particles have incited a fierce debate among experts about the correct picture of matter at the quantum scale

In August 2003, an experiment at the KEKB particle accelerator in Japan found hints of an unexpected particle: A composite of elementary building blocks called quarks, it contained not two quarks like mesons or three like the protons and neutrons that constitute all visible matter, but four - a number that theoretical physicists had come to think the laws of nature did not permit. This candidate 'tetraquark' disintegrated so quickly that it seemed a stretch to call it a particle at all. But as similar formations appeared in experiments around the world, they incited a fierce debate among experts about the correct picture of matter at the quantum scale.

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#1

Re: Quark Quartet Fuels Quantum Feud

09/01/2014 10:59 AM

This story highlights one of my favorite logical paradoxes of quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics rely on applying some very sophisticated probability analysis. Every statistical analysis has a real, finite, non-zero uncertainty in the predictions of what can and cannot happen. How can quantum mechanics then claim something cannot or must happen. Both claims have an uncertainty of zero.

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Guru

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Quark Quartet Fuels Quantum Feud

09/01/2014 2:34 PM

In a double-slit experiment, what is the probability that a photon will not pass through both slits, ie, will pass through one slit or the other only?

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#3
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Re: Quark Quartet Fuels Quantum Feud

09/01/2014 3:14 PM

The experiment that still rattles my brain is the single electron, double slit experiment. In this often repeated experiment, individual electrons at a current flow rate of about one electron a second go toward a double slit. The electrons that make it through presumably one or the other slit gets detected by hitting a phosphorous screen and a pulse of light is observed. [Other detectors have been used but this method is so dramatic.] Single, discrete electrons clearly leave the gun and reach the screen. When one looks at a sum of the location distribution, the typical double slit distribution appears. Somehow these individual electrons interfere with themselves.

I still cannot wrap my head around this.

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Guru

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#4

Re: Quark Quartet Fuels Quantum Feud

09/01/2014 4:32 PM

Err, hold on, here's an extra quark for Muster Mark.

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