The “Party Pooper” Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

A student joked that the interpretations of quantum mechanics which I tend to support are those of a party pooper. At first I didn’t like the connotation, but then I realized hey – why not? Lets turn this into a real thing.

The first thought that crossed my mind was that I’m not in any way spoiling the good party. No way! Not me. The ability to predict basically all of chemistry, the absorption and emission lines of spectroscopy, lasers, transistors, and all this good stuff – still stands. If anything, a reasonable and demystified interpretation of quantum mechanics makes the party all that much better. Heck, even quantum computers, despite the endlessly wrong descriptions that are often given to how they work, are still a possibility for arriving at the party. That was why I didn’t like the term at first.

However, why not consider what she actually meant? She meant that the party was for those who were riding on top of the successes of quantum mechanics and pushing their condescending, pseudoscientific, and just plain fraudulent ideas. What may have begun as a misguided and sure perhaps brilliant marketing scheme by Feynman has become a free-for-all for deceiving students and promoting mysticism where it doesn’t belong. If that’s what the party is about – then yeah, I like the party poopers. I’m not going to call the cops but I will point out it’s time to start cleaning up and if the freeloaders keep hanging around too long I am going to put Kenny G on the stereo at full volume to get them out.

So without further ado lets get started with the basic principles of the Party Pooper Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

  1. There are always analogies with macroscopic systems to help us understand what is going on with the microscopic systems. There are macroscopic eigenvalue problems, macroscopic probability wavefunctions, and quantizations. An electron behaves in some ways like a hurricane. It has no clearly defined edge, an angular momentum, a direction of motion, and a fairly well defined center. You’re not sure if you are going to get hit by one until it happens.
  2. When we say a system is in a superposition of states, we mean that the system has not yet exhibited characteristics that determine which of the states it is in. Macroscopic systems can also have this behavior, it is a technique of probability to use this construction. We weigh all possibilities with their probabilities to determine the expectation value of a bet.
  3. Words like “particle” imply a certain context of the observer, that the observer is very far from the specific properties of the object. A planet is a good particle in a solar system, until you get close and have to start talking about the details of the geography.
  4. Measurements are always probabilistic, and always collapse a system in the mind of the one making the measurement. A coin is in both of your hands equally and simultaneously, for the purposes of my calculation, until I guess a hand and you show that it is empty. At that moment, the coin’s probability becomes much greater in the other hand. This doesn’t violate causality nor special relativity.
  5. A qubit is in both 0 and 1 state at the same time just in the same way that an ordinary bit is in both the 0 and 1 state at the same time. As soon as either one is measured, we see that it was only 0 or only 1. The difference is that in an ordinary computer or Turing machine the bits are isolated – a read head comes and reads them, and responds with electronic logic gates before looking at the next. In a quantum computer, they are not isolated – they are linked together in a very complex way such that adjusting one qubit can subtly alter many others – even before their state is read.
  6. The beer is in the fridge. Well, you might have to look. As soon as you open the door, the wavefunction will collapse.
  7. If the party is for fermions, the capacity is limited, I will check if you are on the guest list. For bosons, you’re all welcome to come. Keep on coming!

Stellarators 仿星器

A beautiful poster, here’s my transcription:


美国天文学家和物理学家斯必泽 (spitzer) 是早期磁约束聚变研究中较为成功的一位。最初,他没想用磁场把等离子体约束在一个圆形空间里。为解决等离子体两端的泄漏,他没想把两端连接成圆环状。然而线圈产生的环形磁场内侧强,外侧弱,致使正带电粒子向下漂移,电子向上漂移,正负电荷的分离所产生的电场与磁场共同作用的结果,把等里子体想外推,因而不能形成稳定的约束。为了克服正负电粒子的分离,斯必泽巧妙地把圆环状空间扭成8子形,干1951年提出了一种称为仿星器(stellarator)的磁约束装置。等离子体沿8字形绕行一圈,总的漂移被抵消。

仿星器是磁约束聚变装置的一种:一是将螺线圈绕在轴线具有可变空间曲率的圆截面真空室上; 二是在平面轴线真空室上用两种

Einstein: Father of the Electric Universe

Today’s discussion began as follows:

I demand a flamewar. EINSTEIN – GOOD or BAD?

This was in the Electric Universe discussion group on facebook. More to follow on this topic, but for now here’s the conversation as it took place.

Lukas Saul : Father of the Electric Universe

Andrew W. Powell: no

Liran Shoham How you figure?

Lukas Saul Well “popularizer” is more accurate 🙂 The whole paradigm shift of placing light and the electromagnetic field as the definer of metric (the meter and the second) – the electromagnetic field as the background which defines our universe – came about with the advent of relativity. Sure, it was Lorentz and Voigt and others before Einstein who worked out much of the maths (for SR), as he would also point out, but he put it together in a nice package and now we know it’s an electric universe.

Jason Verbelli The exact opposite.
Einstein said space is empty and refused to acknowledge the existence of electricity and magnetism in space. So he came up with nonsense about space bending.
The exact opposite of reality and electric universe. Cmon…

Lukas Saul JI think you are quoting misinformed pop science writers and not Einstein. Einstein said “in so much as space has properties there is an aether”, and he considered the assigment of a metric to each point in space in GR to be an aether theory. Of course the same applies when we assign a property such as magnetic or electric field to any point in space. Rather than refuse to acknowledge E&M, he put E&M ahead and more important even of the sacrosanct Galilean and Cartesian space which was the fashion of the day. Special relativity is about using the wave equations of E&M to create our metric of distance and time. The “space bending” you are referring to is an electromagnetic phenomenon: the definition of a straight line in general relativity is the null geodesic – the path that LIGHT travels. Nobody is throwing out electricity here, in fact it is the exact opposite – electricity and magnetism ARE what defines space-time. Einsteins work of SR and GR are what follows from saying “we live in an electic universe” L

Jason Verbelli L absolutely not. Space and time are not to be linked together. Einsteins work of special relativity in general relativity are complete nonsense.
Autre blast for me to suggest Einstein had anything to do with electric universe model.

Hannes Alfven gave a talk to 500 students in 1982 and at the end mentioned that the people should go for a curriculum and plasma physics.. NOT Relativity.

It is one or the other.
We indeed live in an electric universe. But that is not what Einstein’s crap suggested whatsoever.

“if the velocity of light is even a tiny bit dependent upon the velocity of the light source, then my entire theory of relativity and gravitation is false.” –Einy

Every emission and burst of light is spherical according to Huygens Principle and furthered by the work of Dr. Edward Dowdye.
That’s fear has a center and can propagate on its own. When it does so it is a straight line/rectilinear path.
The Spherical Propagation of Light…/the-spherical-propagation-varying…

The Spherical Propagation/ Varying Speed(s) of Light —…

The Spherical Propagation/ Varying Speed(s) of Light — Steemite

Lukas Saul I think you will be not be disappointed to study basic relativity/electromagnetism theory, it is absolutely essential to understanding the electric universe. Then move on to the technically more difficult job of describing the behavior of ionized gases in these fields as Alfvén suggests. The velocity of light is no more dependent on speed of the source than the velocity of sound is, do you disagree with that? It’s certainly been well established experimentally as well as making complete sense from the perspective of electric universe theory.

Jason Verbelli no I do not agree because the same observations can be explained using other models. Sound is also a spherical emission. Most all waveforms propagate spherically. Doppler shift is misconceived and so is red shift. (As shown by Dr. Edward Dowdye’s brilliant work)

Einstein has nothing to do with the Electric Universe. That’s an insult

Jason Verbelli Lukas Saul Real Math and Physics:…/ViewGraph_English.pdf

Jason Verbelli Lukas Saul Extinction Shift Principle (Full Book)…/1WZ2euMIRREBRvn0ZpBlQoD…/view

Extinction Shift Book Full – Dr. Edward Dowdye.pdf L

Lukas Saul Thanks for the interesting reading there, the Löschvershibungsprincip et al. 🙂 While I admire the ambition and it is certainly possible to do what is described: “Applying the Galilean transformation without the need for tweaking the scales of measurement and warping the units of time”, such a project has limited utility. In the end it makes sense for our coordinate systems to match up with things like meter sticks and atomic clocks – these systems are electromagnetic and thus are warped by changes in the electromagnetic properties which hold them together. Special relativity does not deny that it is possible to label the world with a Galilean frame, it merely describes how REAL clocks and meter sticks are indeed held together with electromagnetic forces and SR describes the properties of reference frames built with such objects. In some sense Dowdye is suggesting that we can leave aside the electromagnetic universe and what it does to clocks and meter sticks and return to Newtonian absolute space. There’s nothing stopping us from doing that, it’s another tool in the toolbox. However it doesn’t invalidate the very useful tools of the meter and second as defined in the dictionary according to the principles of relativity, as popularized by Einstein. Those tools should also be in our toolbox, especially in this forum.

Genome-wide association meta-analysis of 78,308 individuals reveals this shit has gone too far

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.  — Albert Einstein

Mea Culpa

Hello everyone.  In the end, this post is going to make me look like an idiot in some way.  Why?  Because this is what is bound to happen when we speak about intelligence.   In this case I am willing to take this risk, to stick my neck out, because really – somebody’s got to do it.  This shit has gone way too far.


This post is inspired by a Nature Genetics article, and various media coverage of it.  There’s a whole lot wrong with this article and especially with the coverage of it but I’m going to break it down for you in three parts,:

  1.  Why “General intelligence” of a person is absolutely not a quantitative thing and why it makes you look very silly to pretend it is.
  2.   How correlation is not necessarily causation and how some condition being correlated with a genetic sequence absolutely does not mean that you can call the condition “genetic”.
  3.   How the entire procedure of looking for genetic roots of cleverness is  misguided, so badly so that it reflects very poorly on anyone who might pursue such a study.

So buckle up, here we go.

1)  IQ and g factor and “general intelligence”

To be fair, the authors of the Nature Genetics article in question wisely don’t refer to the IQ in their article.  However, some people do.  Quite intelligent people even fall for this, which is interestingly enough a good anecdote of how general intelligence can fail as a quantitative measure.   You get that?  Let me repeat it: the fact that even really smart people might fall for IQ as being a thing is evidence that IQ is not a thing.

The first glaring error people make is to imagine that there is a characteristic of a person called the IQ.  This is simply not what the word means.  IQ is a way of grading a person’s test score.  That’s all.  We can say “her IQ is high”, and this might be a perfectly fine thing to say in the proper context.  It’s a qualitative statement, there’s nothing wrong with that.  In the same sense you could say “He’s a really big guy” and again there’s nothing wrong with that.  But if you say that his bigness is 115, you probably will get some funny looks.  There are many interesting ways to describe different aspects of intelligence, but is there any use to assigning a scalar number to general intelligence?

General bigness.

The idea behind there being a general intelligence as an attribute came from the fact that people’s test scores on various tests are correlated.  A person who does really well on one test is more likely to do well on another test than a person who totally flunked the first test.  True enough.  And mathematically there is nothing wrong with expressing correlated measurements as a new average quantity plus a peculiar element.  For example in fluid dynamics we might find it advantageous to write the velocity of a molecule as a sum of the average bulk velocity of the fluid plus a peculiar velocity of this particular molecule.  So why not?

Consider then that when we look at various objects and consider their mass and their volume, we will find that they are correlated.  More massive objects are more likely to take up more space.  Why not then consider that there is a general bigness to objects?      We can call it the b factor.  There’s nothing preventing us from writing the mass of an object as some mass due to the general bigness of the object plus or minus a correction.  But what would we gain from such an analysis?   Well nothing, we would gain nothing and would be wasting our time.

Why?  Because we can see that general bigness is not addressing any quantity that helps us to model the world quantitatively.  Volume and mass (and density) are words and concepts that we can apply to every individual situation, not just averages.  General bigness is not such a creature.  General intelligence or g factor is exactly the same, simply not a quantitative object of an individual.

Of course there are smart people, and big objects, and good athletes.  Sure, our abilities to perform some physical activities are also going to be correlated.  Good runners are more likely to be good football players and even are more likely to be good swimmers or rock climbers.  Statistically.  But do we speak of people’s general athletic index a?  No, again it isn’t an immediately useful quantity to consider because it’s not a specific thing.

World Intelligence League

Lets imagine for a second that I’m wrong here, and that there is really a thing about a person, a somehow even slightly measurable thing, called their general intelligence.  In that case it would be possible to perform such a measurement in a rating system and to have a world champion and a ranking, just like is done for ski racing and chess.  You could form a world intelligence league and give people a rating when they join your club (lets call it 1000).  Then you could administer tests and see who did better in the tests, and contestants that had high ratings (2000+) would contribute with a higher weight to the new rankings after the test.  But who would choose the tests?  The problem is once again that there’s no measureable general intelligence to be found.  You also won’t be able to decide a clear “world’s best athlete” nor a clear “world’s best person”.  It’s because these aren’t quantities without a specific context.

If I say “he’s good” what do you think?   Your mind is likely to produce a context from thin air here, and assume I am talking about his behavior towards others, perhaps his ethics, or some such.  However if I follow with “at the free throw line” there’s a very different and clear meaning.  That’s why there’s no general goodness to be measured, no general bigness to be measured, no general athleticism to be measured, and no general intelligence to be measured.  Notice there’s also no general fastness (even though clearly people and machines will have race results of different distances or events correlated).  There’s no quantity we can measure called general healthyness, and there’s no quantity we can meausre called general musicianship.  Oh did I mention there’s also no quantity known as general intelligence?

OK this should be clear as day by now, if I continue it’s likely to be insulting your SAT score.  SAT score, Erdos number, olly height, chess rating, 3×3 rubics cube time – these are things one can quantify.  All of them require intelligence sure.   A person who is good at all these things is generally intelligent.  But pretending this person has a “g factor of X” just makes you look very silly doesn’t it.  Sillyness factor definitely 2.447.  I measured it.

2) It’s genetic 

Oh boy is this tiring.  Repeat after me: correlation is not causation!  Lets give some exapmles:

The world’s top 二胡 players have a genetic correlation present with Han people.  Is playing the 二胡 genetic?

Studies show a propensity of Finnish speakers to be correlated to genes producing low melanin content.  Is speaking Finnish genetic?

Older children have larger feet, and also score better on geometric arrangement tests.  Is geometric arrangement ability due to foot size?

Individuals from families are likely to share similar diets and lifestyles as well as similar genetic material and have similar diseases.  Are cancer and obesity genetic?

Some tests showed the presence of certain genes was correlated with people doing well on some test.  Does that mean the ability to take that test is genetic?

Of course it doesn’t mean that.

One reason people are jumping to such conclusions is that they have been asked a very silly question:  nature vs. nuture.  This is like asking what enabled you to commute to work in the morning: was it the gasoline or the steel frame of the car?  Well it was 80% steel frame and 20% gasoline according to some studies.  Do you believe me here?  Then why would you believe that something like intelligence might be x% hereditary?  The notion is absurd.   You need both gas and steel frame to get your car running, obviously.   Nobody’s going to talk about the great steel vs. gas debate of what powers cars and hopefully nobody will talk about nature vs. nurture anymore either.  If they do it’s because they are 60% lungs, 40% heart.

Don’t get me wrong,  it might very well be interesting for some reason that certain genes correlate with certain test scores.  It’s an observation one could make.  However this observation is not at all, in any sense, evidence that the test taking ability is genetic.

3)  Why the whole thing reflects sadly on those who might pursue this research

Consider for example test scores on predicting numeric sequences.  Sure, we’d like to do better at understanding how to identify patterns and use our imagination to see what underlying concept produces a given sequence.  Why not?   The idea as I understand it is that we are interested to improve ourselves and others – to get better scores.  And to find out how to get still better scores.

Well guess what?  The answer is immediately obvious – practice.  In none of the tests I’ve mentioned here, from cube solving to free throws to numeric sequences, is there any evidence that we are near a genetic limit.  Practicing always improves the score.

It really seems like bringing up genetics in the context of some intelligence tests is only a desperate tactic for those who really are scoring badly.  “It’s just not in my genes”.   Yeah right, in fact the problem is you didn’t practice as much as the other folks.

So quiet down about genetic factors of intelligence, we’re not buying it – instead, go practice a skill.  Take an SAT prep course to improve your score – or you could sit on the couch watching TV and blame your poor score on genetics.  Your choice.