December 8, 2015
Alice in Quantum land by Robert Gilmore is a wonderful and creative allegory of Quantum Physics. Throughout the story Alice meets a strange cast of characters, each one relating to a quantum function. Through these characters Alice, and the readers, gain a greater understanding of quantum mechanics.
The Heisenberg Bank
In chapter two Alice enters the Heisenberg Bank, which is, for the most part, seemingly empty. However Alice soon learns that it is quite the opposite, the bank is packed with anti electrons, which are particles that do not have its rest mass energy, which is the minimal energy needed for a particle to be a free particle and properly exist. These Anti electrons…
There she meets the quantum mechanic and the classic mechanic. While there Alice comes across Schrodingers cat. Schrodinger’s cat is used to explain the superposition principle.(Robert Gilmore, pg 45) The superposition principle states that when unobserved, an object is in any possible state. Schrodinger devised a thought experiment to explain this. Imagine a cat locked in a box with a flask filled with poison gas, and a mechanism that would break the flask. should a sample of radioactive material happen to decay. If the material decays, the cat will die. There is no definitive proof that the radioactive material will decay. When unobserved the cat and the material are both in a superposition of states. The cat is both dead and alive, and the material is both intact and decayed. When observed nature is forced to choose one of the two…
When they get on the train, Alice discovers that her friend cannot sit with just any electron. Her electron companion can only sit with electrons with an opposite spin.(Robert Gilmore, pg 5) (Spin ups can only sit with spin downs) This situation is supposed to represent electron configuration. Electron Configuration shows the number of electrons in each sub level of an atom. When displaying the number atoms withing each sub level, a common method would be to use boxes and arrows. the number of boxed corresponds the different energy sub levels, and the number of arrows depends on the number of electrons within the atom. Within each box there are two arrows, one pointing up and one pointing down. This is why the electron on the train can only sit with one other electron of the opposite spin. This can also be explained with the Hund’s rule, which stated that each sub shell must have one electron within it before any one sub shell can contain two sub shells.
Alice, after reading Alice in wonderland, wishes that her life could be interesting like the Alice in “Alice in Wonderland” after this she finds herself shrinking and moving into her TV. She finds that she has been transported to Quantumland. (Robert Gilmore, pg 1-2) Here in Quantumland Alice meats strange and peculiar characters and learns several new lessons about quantum…