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View Diary: Fundamentalists and HS curricula (71 comments)

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  •  Which is rather ironic. . . . (3+ / 0-)
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    Chinton, esquimaux, SassyFrass

    This penetrates even to mathematics, where I have had fundametalist students object to quantum mechanics as being "unchristian."  The thing is, quantum mechanics most decidedly IS the antithesis of the authoritarian, rigid universe of the fundamentalists.

    Actually, I would have thought that quantum mechanics would have been the perfect avenue for fundamentalists to support their arguments about the limitations of science.

    QM is based on the principle that not everything is knowable with complete certainty at the same time. However, we know from experience that at a given moment, everything has a definite mass, momentum, spin, and so on, that in principle could be observed. The fact that we are incapable of learning all of this information simultaneously does not mean that it does not exist. An omnipresent, omniscient being could know this information, but an observer in our spacetime cannot.

    However, fundamentalists arguments that QM is "unchristian" seems rather bizarre. They want everything to agree with their worldview that there is a (Christian) God in charge of everything, but they also don't want anything that allows for any uncertainty on the part of man, either? Very strange.

    •  uncertainty (2+ / 0-)
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      homogenius, SassyFrass

      was the problem.  They want a deterministic universe, not one where certain things happen according to chance.

      In fact, your assertion is about QM does not quite agree with my understanding (admittedly I'm a mathematician not a physicist).  Surely the Heisenberg principle is consistent with what you wrote, but think of Schrodinger's cat -- the cat is BOTH dead AND alive until one looks and "resolves" the probability wave.  THus the universe is indeterminate.  (My cat is named Schrodinger btw).  This leads to the multiple universes and down the path of string theory, no?

      This particular student was also befuddled by relativity...then told me that Einstein and relativity were a "Zionist conspiracy" and pointed me to a truly hateful anti-semetic website...so there were deeper issues than just fundamentalism at play.

      Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. -- Arthur C. Clarke

      by mathGuyNTulsa on Sun Nov 26, 2006 at 02:00:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  About the furball. . . . (1+ / 0-)
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        Joy Busey

        Surely the Heisenberg principle is consistent with what you wrote, but think of Schrodinger's cat -- the cat is BOTH dead AND alive until one looks and "resolves" the probability wave.

        Well, that depends upon how you interpret the physics behind the Gedanken experiment. The wavefunction of the system contains both "alive cat" and "dead cat" components with nonzero coefficients. However, while the probability function is indeterminate as to which state the system is in, the cat itself must (to my knowledge) be in a pure eigenstate: that is, it must be either alive or dead. Which eigenstate the cat is actually located in is discovered when the observation is made. If you perform the experiment an infinite number of times, the number of times you have a pissed-off, but alive, cat will be equal to the square of the coefficient of the "alive cat" component of the wavefunction.

        The reason why uncertainty enters in is because you have actually made a measurement, you can't tell what state the system is in.

    •  unchristian? not surprising (0+ / 0-)

      because they are not prepared to look at The Tao of Physics.
      I think they are wrong and I agree with lone1c above,

      I just don't see why devout religious belief and scientific inquiry can't go hand in hand.

      all of us are pupils in the eyes of God

      by SassyFrass on Sun Nov 26, 2006 at 03:02:50 PM PST

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