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Building Bombs using Quantum Mechanics

Daniel Hoek

Date Icon Week 4, Wednesday 16 May TT 2012
Time Icon 8:15pm

Some physicists will tell you that Quantum Mechanics (QM) is a perfectly clear, sensible and well-defined theory that has rigorous mathematical underpinnings (except for the bits that don’t). Those physicists either have no idea what they’re talking about, or they’re lying. The truth is that QM is insane, and my talk will tell the truth. I’ll go over some of the crazy experimental results that led to the formulation and acceptance of such a bonkers theory, and give a (very rough) sketch of the idiotic mathematical and conceptual framework QM uses to deal with those. We will also look at one mad application of all this: a cunning way in which the insights of QM can be used in manufacturing super-sensitive bombs. The talk will focus on the conceptual side of things and stay away from formalities: so no knowledge of physics required (and hardly any knowledge of mathematics).