On things Quantum

By Rasaraja dasa, Bhaktivedanta Institute, Mumbai - Berkeley - 13.6 2019

Thanks to many popular books and articles, the mysteries of quantum theory are now quite widely familiar even amongst the non-scientific public. Heisenberg’s uncertainty relations (one cannot ‘simultaneously know’ both position and momentum of a particle beyond a certain inaccuracy), Schrodinger cat paradox (quantum cats capable of being both dead and alive, simultaneously) are known, at least by name, to many.

However, much of what is passed on in popular literature are colourful but ultimately inadequate ways of stating what physicists do NOT understand about quantum theory!

“No one understands quantum mechanics”, said the famous Nobel Laureate in quantum physics, R. Feynman.  Similarly, another Nobel-prize winning physicist, Murray Gell-Mann, the inventor of the quark particles, said “Quantum theory, that strange thing we all know how to use, but understand very little.” !!

Prof. Ravi Gomatam, director of the Institute for Semantic Information Sciences and Technology (ISIST) with centres in Mumbai and Berkeley, and adjunct professor at BITS, Pilani, holds a Ph.D. in foundations of quantum mechanics, and has been working on changing the conceptual foundations of quantum mechanics to what he calls “objective semantic information”. He says “there is a vital need to find proper categories of thought to re-understand quantum mechanics properly. The ISIST has therefore convened an exciting seminar on the topic, “Quantum Reality – New Perspectives on March 26, 2011 in Mumbai, India. (www.isist.info)

The seminar will open with a talk by Prof. Gary Bowman, a quantum physicist from Northern Arizona University. Prof. Bowman is the author of a well-regarded textbook on quantum mechanics (Essential Quantum Mechanics, Cambridge University Press). His talk will introduce all the important non-classical features of quantum theory in a simple manner and discuss what kind of description quantum theory can and cannot give.

The second speaker, Dr. Unnikrishnan is another distinguished quantum physicist from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai. He will discuss about quantum “non-locality”, another classically expressed quantum feature. Usually, for one particle to influence another particle, some physical signal has to travel from that particle with a finite speed and thus in finite time to influence the other particle. However, nonlocality is the idea that one quantum particle can instantly influence on another quantum particle, even if it is millions of galaxies away! Although quantum physicists have proposed this idea and even practically exploit it, its mechanism remains shrouded in mystery. Unnikrishnan’s talk will present some of his latest research findings that question this idea of nonlocality.

Prof. Gomatam, who is also the director of Bhaktivedanta Institute (www.bvinst.edu) and adjunct professor at BITS, Pilani, will be the third speaker. His talk will be based on the fact that all we get from the world is information of two kinds. Every object in front of us has a particular position, which is physical information; and a meaning it holds for us — such as say, it is a “table” — which can be called semantic information. Physicists have so far used only the physical information (i.e. just position) as the basis for all physics. Prof. Gomatam will show how the semantic aspect of information, can also be objectivized. The most basic elements of semantic information are the five phenomenological aspects of an object – sound, touch, color, taste and smell – which we acquire through our senses. He will propose that semantic information, long neglected by physicists, if used to conceive every day or macroscopic objects, can lead to a new form of quantum theory with new applications, which will also be free of all paradoxes currently surrounding that theory. For most people, semantic information (called tanmatras in Srimad Bhagavata Sankhya) and the five gross material elements that carry them will be the first step to understand the science of God, as told by Lord Krishna Himself in the Bhagavad Gita As It is: “Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego—all together these eight constitute My separated material energies.” (Chapter 7, text 4)

Prof. C. R. Muthukrishnan, formerly deputy director of I.I.T. Madras, and a distinguished computer scientist, will chair the whole session and deliver his concluding comments. Prof. Muthukrishnan is also a member of the International Advisory Council for the Bhaktivedanta Institute, Mumbai/Berkeley.

The half-day seminar will take place on Saturday, March 26, 2011 between 9:30 A.M. to 1:00 P. M. in Mumbai, India. The exact location: Nehru Science Center (On Dr. E. Moses Road, between Mahalakshmi Railway station and Worli Naka).  The seminar is free of charge and open to all those who may be interested. The talks will presuppose no familiarity with quantum mechanics and will be presented in a manner that is easily understood by all. There will be post-conference publications available, in both in video and book form, for which order can be placed now. For further information, please contact: qmseminar@isist.info