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Quantum Theory

/Quantum Theory

Purim—the Day when We Celebrate Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking

The Zohar compares Yom Kippur to Purim stating that Yom HaKipurim may be interpreted as “a day like Purim” (k-purim in Hebrew means “like purim”).  On Purim we feast; on Yom Kippur we fast—what the two can have in common? Indeed, Purim and Yom Kippur have something very important in common.  Both days share a common root—pur—meaning  a “lot” (or pl. purim—“lots”). On Yom Kippur, two lots were placed in a wooden  box—one say “to God”, and the other “to Azazel.”  (See my post, “Tale of Entangled Goats”). The High Priest relied on a lottery to choose which goat would be used for a sacrifice to God and which to atone for the sins of Jewish People. On Purim, Haman threw two lots to determine the month and the day of a pogrom, [...]

Grand Unification

In physics, we seek Grand Unification, also known as the Theory of Everything. The Standard Model describes three out of the four fundamental forces: the strong (nuclear) force, the weak force (beta decay), and the electromagnetic force. The gravitational force, described by the General Theory of Relativity, does not fit into the Standard Model. Developing a quantum theory of gravity, and unifying gravity with the other three forces is the holy grail of theoretical physics. Jewish people are also in need of Grand Unification. There is a schism that runs through the history: it is the schism between Joseph (Yosef) and Judah (Yehuda). Judah represents a “shtetl yid,” a Jew who lives in a ghetto, who sits in a yeshivah, who learns Torah, and who sees the world outside as hostile, as a [...]

Dreams of Pharaoh—a Lesson in Symmetry

In the Torah portion Miketz, Pharaoh sees two dreams. He wakes up agitated and calls on all wise men of Egypt to interpret his dreams. Nobody is able to come up with an acceptable interpretation, so they fetch Joseph from a prison and he successfully interprets dreams of Pharaoh—there will be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Joseph proceeds to instruct Pharaoh on how to prepare for the seven years of famine. In the previous posts, Interpreting Dreams and Joseph—the Master of Time—we already explained how Joseph was able to interpret dreams in terms of units of time and why Pharaoh appointed Joseph as the Viceroy of Egypt. This story, however, is still puzzling. Perhaps it can teach us more lessons… In Talmudic and Kabbalah literature, Joseph is called [...]

Abraham Meets Abraham from a Parallel Universe

And he [Abraham] lifted up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood over against him…  (Gen. 18:2)   On this blog, we often discuss a collapse of the wavefunction as the result of a measurement. This phenomenon is called by some physicists the “measurement problem.” There are several reasons, why the collapse of the wavefunction—part and parcel of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics—is called a problem. Firstly, it does not follow from the Schrödinger equation and is added ad hoc. Secondly, nobody knows how it happens or how long it takes to collapse the wavefunction.  This is not to mention that any notion that the collapse of the wavefunction is caused by human consciousness leading to Cartesian dualism is anathema to physicists. It is a problem, no matter how you [...]

Quantum Cheshire Cat and Resurrection

In memory of my father, Abraham Shamshin ben Reuven, ע"ה   For those of us who can't get enough of Schrödinger cat, comes a new feline—Quantum Cheshire Cat—the creation of an Israeli physicist, Yakir Aharonov. In Alice in Wonderland, Alice meets a grinning Cheshire cat. To her amazement, the cat disappears leaving only his grin behind: "All right', said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin, but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!" According to Martin Gardner, the statement "a grin without a cat" is a reference to mathematics dissociating itself [...]

Symmetry and Love — Jewish Chromodynamics

Ye are standing this day all of you before the Lord your God: your heads, your tribes, your elders, and your officers, even all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, and thy stranger that is in the midst of thy camp, from the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water; that thou shouldest enter into the covenant of the Lord thy God—and into His oath—which the Lord thy God maketh with thee this day. (Deut. 29:9-11) The above verses at the beginning of the Torah portion Nitzavim that is always read in the week preceding the Jewish New Year, Rosh HaShanah, are usually interpreted in terms of the unity of Jewish people: You are standing this day all of you [read: standing together in perfect unity]. This is not [...]

First Fruits and the Wave-Particle Duality of Nature

…Thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which thou shalt bring in from thy land that the Lord thy God giveth thee; and thou shalt put it in a basket and shalt go unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to cause His name to dwell there. And thou shalt come unto the priest that shall be in those days, and say unto him: 'I profess this day unto the Lord thy God, that I am come unto the land which the Lord swore unto our fathers to give us.' And the priest shall take the basket out of thy hand, and set it down before the altar of the Lord thy God. (Deut. 26:2-4) And the priest shall take the basket out of [...]

The Pilot Wave

And on the day that the tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, even the tent of the testimony; and at even there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until morning. So it was always: the cloud covered it, and the appearance of fire by night. And whenever the cloud was taken up from over the Tent, then after that the children of Israel journeyed; and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel encamped. At the commandment of the Lord the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the Lord they encamped: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they remained encamped. And when the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel [...]

Mishkan – a Metaphor for Quantum Reality, II

Continuing the theme of my last post, Mishkan – a Metaphor for Quantum Reality, the analogy between the Tabernacle (“Mishkan”) and quantum reality goes even deeper. The quantum world is best described today by the Quantum Field Theory. According to this theory, there are no particles, only fields. When we interact with a field, it manifests itself as a quantum of the field, which, to some extent, looks and behaves like a particle. For example, when we interact with an electromagnetic field, it manifests itself as a photon – a quantum of the electromagnetic field. An electron, according to the Quantum Field Theory, is not really a particle but a quantum of the electron field, which is a quantum field that is spread across the entire universe. This quantum is an excitation of [...]

Mishkan – a Metaphor for Quantum Reality

And when the Tabernacle is set to travel, the Levites shall take it down; and when the Tabernacle camps, the Levites shall set it up… (Num. 1:51) During the wonders of Israelites in the desert, the Tabernacle (Heb. “Mishkan”), existed as a sanctuary only during their encampments. Whenever they traveled, the Mishkan was taken down and disassembled to be carried by Levites during the journey. When God commanded Moses to set the camp, the Mishkan was reassembled and set up again. Let us fast forward some three-and-a-half thousand years to the beginning of the 20 c. It was a time of great intellectual turmoil. The discovery of the atom’s structure by Rutherford, according to which atom resembled a solar system with a nucleus at the center and electrons orbiting the nucleus, was followed [...]