George Packard, retired schoolteacher was walking. It was a beautiful Los Angeles morning. The rain had let up, and the sunshine poured through the clear, blue skies. He headed to a favorite cafe where he had a cappuccino. Ah, the delights of a cultured life! George savored the foam and the coffee beneath.IMG_0172

George had grown weary of writing. He would still write now and then; writing had become something of a habit. Fortuitously, the Bumba fellow seemed to actually welcome his contributions to that Bumbastories blog. The blogging world seemed to demand a constant stream of silly – and especially personal and silly – jottings and poems and other ditties. All in order to be liked. And being liked was a quantifiable commodity. Poor Bumba, thought George.

George was reading yet another layman’s book about physics. Quantum mechanics. A very excellent book by Dr. M. Y. Han titled The Probable Universe, an Owner’s Guide to Quantum Physics, which laid out the essentials of the theory with no math – a mistake, thought George.

The old dichotomy between particles and waves was carefully elucidated, which was very helpful.

Someone had asked him recently why anyone (this person in particular) needed to understand quantum mechanics/wave theory. One could live a perfectly normal and decent life without knowing these things, she argued. George was at a loss to respond.

Finally, he began: “Well, if we want to know what this world is – how it works…. then we need to know about quantum theory.”

“Because,” he continued, “the world we see is a bit of an illusion, a paradox. Matter, which is what we think we are, is also a wave: radiation that requires no medium through which to traverse the universe. So everything can be in two, maybe more, places at the same time, depending on how you measure it. And by definition there was a limit to how well you could measure anything. That’s what the world is.”

Of course it’s incomprehensible. Still, it’s good to know where you stand. Apparently no one, not even the physicists, understands how this conception of the world can be. But we know because of eighty years of careful, repeated, verified measurements – and even through practical applications of quantum mechanics like laser technology – that quantum theory is correct. It works.

“So there we are,” thought George.IMG_0173

George Packard returned home. The sky was now darkening.IMG_0176