23 July 2004

George does not play dice with the universe

Mark A. R. Kleiman | Hawking's flip-flop
And instead of being properly ashamed of having been wrong, and listening respectfully to those who were right, he's bragging about having changed his mind, as if that were somehow an accomplishment or a mark of intelligence. 'I want to report that I think I have solved a major problem in theoretical physics.' I mean, how pompous -- how utterly French -- can you get?

Professor Hawking has a lot to learn both from George W. Bush, who can't remember ever having been wrong, and from the anti-war bloggers who keep chanting 'I told you so I told you so I told you so.' Changing your mind in the face of new facts and new analysis is a sign of weakness, and being right now is unimportant compared to having always been right.

Indeed. I always suspected quantum physics of being a leftwing plot. Any group that claim: 'God does not play dice with the universe with the universe.' have got to be treated with suspicion and preferably kept off planes.

It also worth noting that a 'quantum leap' should cover an insignificant distance:

Philip Adams: Let�s admit that the word �quantum� doesn�t make sense to most people and they get it utterly wrong. When people talk of a �quantum leap� they imagine it to be something big. But the opposite is true.

Paul Davies: The word quantum literally means �package� or �discrete packet� in Latin, and it was first coined by the German theoretical physicist Max Plank in 1900. Planck discovered that electromagnetic radiation like heat and light doesn�t come in continuous amounts of energy, but in little packets, or quanta. Those particular quanta we now call photons.

Phillip Adams: So a quantum leap is in fact what?

Paul Davies: A quantum leap in the case of heat radiation or light is a very tiny discontinuous jump in energy, for example when a photon of light is emitted or absorbed by an atom

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