We know how quantum physics works in the atomic level, but does it translate into the “macro” level enough to allow us to use it in practical ways?

Physicist Anthony Leggett thinks that there are too many issues with quantum theory to think of it as anything more than an approximation of reality. In New Scientist, Michael Brooks quotes him as saying, “Everything depends on whether you believe quantum mechanics is going to go on describing the physical world perfectly to whatever level you push it. I’m inclined to put my money on the idea that if we push quantum mechanics hard enough it will break down and something else will take over–something we can’t envisage at the moment.”

It’s a bit like trying to herd cats or grab goldfish with your bare hands. One of the main problems is that in order to build something, you have to be able to measure its parts. Brooks quotes physicist Stephen Adler as saying, “We don’t really understand the measurement process.” For instance, a photon’s can be spinning in two directions at once, in superposition. But when scientists try to measure the spin, the superposition disappears and a spin registers in one direction or the other. The problem is, which one is correct? Or are they really trying to measure TWO photons?

Meanwhile at CERN, the God Particle (Higgs Boson) may have been heard, but they haven’t actually found it yet. An Italian blogger started the rumor, but in BBC News, Paul Rincon quotes CERN spokesman Stefan Soldner-Rembold as saying, “Let’s settle this: the rumours spread by one fame-seeking blogger are just rumours. That’s it.”

In New Scientist, Brooks quotes physicist Markus Aspelmeyer as saying, “These conceptual challenges are still not understood at all. We’re still right at the beginning. [Building a quantum computer is a chance to probe the quantum world with a] “new and unexplored regime. This is really testing quantum physics in its extremes.”

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