I understand why you have a real problem with quantum mechanics — after all, it’s perhaps the single most counterintuitive concept mankind’s ever encountered. Neils Bohr said that no one can understand quantum physics without getting dizzy, Feynman went one step further and flatly stated that no one understands quantum theory (which would of course include all the greats of physics), and Einstein simply thought it was somehow BS: “I’d like to think the moon is there even if I’m not looking at it.”

Problem is, quantum mechanics — including the many-times demonstrated fact that by the very act of watching, the observer affects the observed reality — is perhaps the most successful theory in the history of science. Quantum mechanics doesn’t care about your personal opinion.

Maybe it would be better — and less offensive to us prideful humans (which applies to me, too) — to look at it this way:

Quantum mechanics (QM) is a tool that was invented to explain experimental results. It is nothing more and nothing less than that. The utility of QM is therefore based entirely upon its ability to predict and explain experimental results, and by this measure it is a phenomenal success. There has yet to be an experiment of any type that violates the basic principles of QM.

Not so much a theory, but a tool that helps us explain experimental results. In other words, just ’cause the greatest minds of humanity doesn’t understand and can’t explain a thing doesn’t automatically make that thing any less factual. As for myself, I look at quantum mechanics the same way that Rogers and Hammerstein looked at love:

Who can explain it?
Who can tell you why?
Fools give you reasons,
Wise men never try.

It’s there. We can’t explain it (yet), but countless experiments have shown it’s there. As a human being, I’ve hubris enough to think that someday we humans will be able to explain quantum mechanics in a way most of us can understand…but the fact that we haven’t done so already cannot nullify the results of countless experiments.

Written by

Retired Navy. Inveterate contrarian. If I haven’t done it, I’ve usually done something close.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store