Quantum Mechanics Versus Reality

I’ve always enjoyed math and science and inspiration comes from many sources. I can’t say with certainty that math or science has added anything to my painting but it does allow me to cogitate on interesting things during the painting process. When my daughters were young I didn’t paint. Oils were too smelly and acrylics too transparent and quick drying. I’ve since found ways around those problems.

Years ago my daughters and I were out and about. I don’t remember exactly why but I suspect my wife was getting a well-earned rest from them. I decided to take them to lunch. There weren’t many people in our section of the restaurant and shortly, after we received our lunch. a waitress was cleaning a table near us. I sensed a teaching moment. The floor was tile and I commented that if the waitress dropped the ketchup bottle (it was a glass bottle) there would be a big mess. Both of my daughters agreed. I mentioned casually that there might be a possibility that the mess could happen even if she didn’t drop the bottle and both my daughters were a little incredulous so I started explaining, but I picked up my fork and ate one of my fries first just to highlight the point.

There is a famous and universally taught experiment in physics involving shining a light through two vertical slits. The result is an interference pattern of many vertical bars projecting on a screen placed at a suitable distance behind the slits. Search ‘double slit experiment’ on Google and you will get a ton of descriptions and explanations. If water is used instead of light the water waves are directed at a divider with two openings in it; representing the two slits. The waves refract or reflect through the two openings creating two curved wave fronts on the other side. The result is a set of standing waves that mimic the bars of light in the Light experiment. The way the water mimics light makes us think that light is also a wave. This is an important point so I carefully and slowly ate one of my fries to again highlight it.

Light can be measured very accurately down to a point where it just doesn’t get any smaller. The impression is that light comes in discrete packets that we call quanta. Hence Quantum Mechanics. The really interesting thing is that we can send a single photon/quantum through one of the slits and still get the interacting pattern of vertical strips. So what is the single Photon reacting with? One theory is that the photon is reacting with itself. In one universe the photon goes through one slit and in another it goes through the other slit. At the moment when the photon goes through the slits the universes/dimensions/timelines haven’t split or collapsed yet so the photon reacts with itself going through the other slit and thus forms the interference pattern that we know and love.

This is usually referred to as the Multiverse theory. So in one universe the waitress drops the ketchup on the floor and in another she doesn’t, so the mess exists on the floor whether the ketchup bottle ends up on the floor or not. This is a bit of a stretch because the waitress is not a quantum object and this is not how the Quantum Mechanics theory was thought of.

My youngest daughter looked at me and said “Dad I have a question”. How wonderful I’m getting a question from the youngest one. At this point she has no idea about math so what will the question be? I waited with bated breath!


Her question; “Dad how can you eat fries with a fork?”