Measurements

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By Rayleigh.

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In short the atomicity of matter - and of physical properties associated with matter sets a fundamental limit to the basic idealization that is implicit in classical physics. And that's what quantum mechanics is all about. 3) b' in some sense. 6 "Measurement disturbs the system" p(a', 1,e') = 47 :L(a'lb')*(b'le')* :L(a'W')(b"le') b' b" =:L l(a'W)(b'le')1 + :L (a'lb')*(b'le')*(a'W')(b"le'). 4) As we have already seen in an example, p(a', b, e') is derived from p(a', 1, e') by keeping only the absolute squares, by omitting the cross products, b' 1- b".

Is the purpose of theoretical physics to be Prologue 25 no more than a cataloging of all the things that can happen when particles interact with each other and separate? Or is it to be an understanding at a deeper level in which there are things that are not directly observable (as the underlying quantized fields are) but in terms of which we shall have a more fundamental understanding? Well, this question - idealized, frankly, beyond all recognition - is in a sense the deep philosophical problem that confronts theoretical physics at the frontier of high-energy physics, where we attempt to understand the structure of matter as it is revealed to us, in all of its complexity, using the ever-rising level of energy that has become available to study the basic building blocks of matter and, in the course of this, to create new kinds of matter.

Now the word "symmetrical" is to be understood in a more general sense. The traditional manner in which states are specified is in terms of numerical quantities that are known as wave functions. I spoke of vectors, state vectors, which are abstract entities, and wave functions are particular numerical representations of these abstract vectors. I have several identical particles and the wave function is a function of their positions, for example. The only description that is tenable is one in which this wave function is completely symmetrical among all these positions, so that all the particles are on exactly the same footing.

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Scientific papers, vol.5 by Rayleigh.


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