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25 July, 2010

Quantum Physics

The conversation went something like this:

Person A: "I love quantum physics. I could read books about it all day."

Person B: "Me, too! Did you know that "they" did a study of rats and they measured the way their cells rotated and then applied musical theory to those numbers and it made music? That's quantum physics!"

Person A: "Oh yes, music is inside us all."

Person B: "And they measured the cells on a rat with cancer and it played two bars of Chopin's Funeral March! That's quantum physics! Just goes to show we create from within."

Me: Mental face-palm while trying to look distracted by my work.

So what stopped me from saying, "You know, applying musical properties to math is arbitrary because we created that scale and applying a different scale would get you a different sound." What stopped me from saying, "Quantum physics doesn't actually have anything to do with mice, music or cells, but is a way of explaining the properties of sub-atomic particles."

Well, Person A is in a position of power over me, and other than the above statement, I know next to nothing about Quantum Physics or Mechanics.

I couldn't find this "study" of rats anywhere online. It's one more anecdotal, flimsy support of an argument that uses sciences that a lot of people don't understand or deliberately misuse to try to prove supernatural and spiritual worldviews.

Creationists arguments have been refuted time and time again, but there is this pervasive, insidious movement growing related to "spirituality" where people use anecdotes and misunderstand science to try to back up some "Great Mystery" that could be running the show. It has no church or lobby group, but runs the risk of being as decidedly dogmatic as the other religions have become.

So how do you refute something like this? I'd like to know. I will never be a physicist and don't have enough knowledge on the subject myself, but perhaps someone can suggest a book that explains it in a way that could clear the matter up?

Please leave your suggestions in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=quantum+physics+for+dummies&cid=8544255212043652527&ei=SbRMTOiJGJ2oigTP24XSCA&sa=title&ved=0CAcQ8wIwADgA#p

    :) Doesn't contain any rats.

    Music and Quantum Physics, in fact, are simply extensions of our evolved abilities to spot patterns. It's related to our ability to make out a face in a thick forest; evolutionarily speaking, it enhances survival. As music notes are simply patterns among ranges of frequencies, and Quantum Physics is simply a patterning of observed behavior, none of this is outside of the realm of scientific explanation using Darwinian methods.

    I would ask your friend why it is that the cancer cell played Chopin and not Mozart's Requiem. After all, cancer has been around a long time, and the Requiem is an older piece.