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Welcome to The Lotus Position, an intermittent collection of extempore navel gazings, ponderings, whinges, whines, pontifications and diatribes.

Everything is based on a Sample of One: these are my views, my experiences... caveat lector... read the Disclaimer

The Budapest Office - Castro Bisztro, Madach ter

The Budapest Office - Castro Bisztro, Madach ter
Ponder, Scribble, Ponder (Photo Erdotahi Aron)

Guest Nutter/Kindred Soul: Bill Bailey


Tuesday, 13 November 2007

White Rabbit

It's all coming together now.

Remember the sage advice (if no else is going to blow my trumpet, I'll do it myself) on how to ensure that things are not in the last place you look?

Good. Now, have you read about the Quantum Zeno Effect? No? Consider it part of the required reading list.

What about the Stuff on Boltzmann Brains (I and II)? Really! Do you think I am doing all this for my benefit? Come back when you have...

OK... I can now reveal that I have

a) An explanation for things (previously) being in the last place you looked
b) A viable defence against the Invasion of the Boltzmann Brains (and one that doesn't involve destroying the whole universe, which is handy)
c) An explanation for the complete failure of my previous quantum teleportation experiment.

Choosing, at random, to begin with (c) ... once upon a time, I was sitting in the bath pondering the inconvenience of the "teleportation booths" in the film The Fly, i.e. how annoying it was that one had to pre-position a receiving booth in order to be able to travel somewhere. What if one wants to go to e.g. Alpha Centauri? With current technology it would take thousands of years to get the receiver in place, and I for one don't want to wait ("current technology" obviously now including quantum teleportation but excluding other Faster Than Light travel...)

Anyway, there I was, in the bath and I thought I'd try an experiment to see if there was a way around this problem - you can try it too, maybe you'll have better luck?
Sit in bath (water temperature irrelevant, but science doesn't have to be a pain in the arse, make yourself comfy)

Place a bar of soap/bottle of shampoo/rubber duck (I rather like the idea that the first macroscopic object to be teleported should be a rubber duck)/other convenient object in your outstretched left hand

Now, hold out out your right hand and observe very, very carefully... can you see the soap/shampoo/duck? No? Keep trying...
The idea was that since everything has a finite, but tiny probability of being everywhere else, if you looked often enough in a particular place you could raise that probability to as close to unity as you wanted.

No, I never succeeded either - I thought the problem was that I didn't know how to quantum mechanically observe a macroscopic object, but now I am beginning to suspect that the Quantum Zeno Paradox is a better explanation. Because I was looking in my right hand continuously, that was the one place the soap was never going to appear.

Which also possibly explains why things are always in the last place you look(ed)

But! Aha! Here comes the clever bit. So, we can't observe and teleport in this way. However, we can proceed by elimination. Wherever an object is, it is also actually spread out, so all we need to to is to exclude the destination from our observations i.e. observe absolutely everything else and so prevent the object from going there.

Believe it or not, this would actually work - but probably only for tiny things like photons at the moment - and we can teleport those anyway.

[Side note - however... I can see how one could apply the principles to create dynamic "photonic crystals", i.e with switched apertures... hope I got the right license type.. that could be worth something!]

On the other hand, it could turn out Quantum Mechanically to be the equivalent of not thinking about a White Rabbit.

No - not the one in The Matrix.

Or Harvey.

Or the Jefferson Airplane song.

Or The White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland

Any White Rabbit at all. (this link gives a helpful list of some major associations of White Rabbit to avoid)

Let me know when you haven't thought about one for a couple of minutes...

Oh - I nearly forgot. Boltzmann Brains: they appear from fluctuations in the vacuum - if you keep watching you can suppress them. So, if we all dedicate ourselves to observing the (increasingly) empty universe from now until eternity we can stave off the invasion... what would Camus have made of that?

Aaah! I think I've done my bit for the blogosphere today.