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Re: Time

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Posted by yelmalio/">yelmalio on January 11, 2000 08:27:34 UTC

Yelmalio - If a tree falls in a forest and no one sees it, does its wave function become non-localised? Please explain what this means......I love philosophy.

Its more a bad attempt at physics humour.

The old philosophical saw is, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one sees it, does it make a sound."

In Quantum Mechanics anything can have a wave function, even a tree. For a free particle, not being observed, its wave function is non-localised or indeterminate. A snazzy way of saying it does what it wants to. So, if a tree falls in a forest and no one is oserving to interfere with the wave function there is a finite but vanishingly small chance the tree could quantum tunnel somewhere or jump into a higher energy state, or something, anything.

Myself and friends once spent an afternoon calculating the chance of a Tube (subway) train spontaneously diffracting as it entered a tunnel. Conclusion was that there was no major safety risk.

Yelmalio - I have very wierd friends.

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