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Monday, August 1, 2011

Blog 002: Quantum Reality - A Seminar


The Institute of Semantic Information Sciences & Technology, (InSIST) organized an exciting seminar on the topic, “Quantum Reality – New Perspectives on March 26, 2011. The venue was the prestigious Nehru Science Center in mid-town Mumbai, India.



 updated: 25 August 2011

Quantum Reality – A Seminar

The Institute for Semantic Information Sciences & Technology, (InSIST) organized an exciting seminar on the topic, “Quantum Reality – New Perspectives on March 26, 2011. The venue was the prestigious Nehru Science Center in mid-town Mumbai, India. You can view the full seminar poster at: http://insist.ac.in/images/pdfs/QuantumReality-Poster.pdf 
Why is such a seminar needed? Thanks to many popular books and articles, the mysteries of quantum theory are now quite widely familiar even amongst the non-scientific public. Phrases such as Heisenberg’s uncertainty relations and Schrodinger cat paradox are widely known, at least by name, beyond just the physicists’ circle.
However, much of what is passed on in popular literature are colourful but ultimately inadequate ways of stating what physicists do NOT understand about quantum theory!
“No one understands quantum mechanics”, said the famous Nobel Laureate in quantum physics, R. Feynman. Similarly, another Nobel-prize winning physicist, Murray Gell-Mann, the inventor of the quark particles, said “Quantum theory, that strange thing we all know how to use, but understand very little.” 
Prof. Ravi Gomatam, director of InSIST, says “there is a vital need to find proper categories of thought to re-understand quantum mechanics properly.”
The highly successful seminar was attended by over 200 people, including more than 30 Ph.D.s from prestigious local institutions such as Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bhabha Atomic Research Center and the Indian Institute of Technology. There were also more than 170 students from not only physics but also chemistry, biology, engineering and even law.
The seminar opened with a talk by Prof. Gary Bowman, a quantum physicist from Northern Arizona University. Prof. Bowman is the author of a well-regarded textbook on quantum mechanics (Essential Quantum Mechanics, Cambridge University Press). His talk introduced the important non-classical features of quantum theory in a simple manner, and discussed what kind of description quantum theory can and cannot give.
The second speaker, Dr. Unnikrishnan is another distinguished quantum physicist from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai. He spoke about quantum “non-locality”, another classically expressed quantum feature. Up until quantum theory, in physics, for one particle to influence another particle, some physical signal has to travel from that particle with a finite speed and thus in finite time to influence the other particle. However, nonlocality is the idea that one quantum particle can instantly influence another quantum particle, even if it is millions of galaxies away! Although increasingly coming into the domain of practical exploitation, the mechanism underlying quantum nonlocality remains shrouded in mystery. Unnikrishnan’s talk presented some of his latest research findings that question the very idea of nonlocality.
The third speaker was Dr. Ravi Gomatam (yours truly). My talk was based on the fact that all we get from the world is information of two kinds. Every object in front of us has a particular position, which is physical information; and a meaning it holds for us -- such as say, it is a “table” -- which can be called semantic information. Physicists have so far used only the physical information (i.e. just position) as the basis for all physics. Prof. Gomatam will show how the semantic aspect of information, can also be objectivized. The most basic elements of semantic information are the five phenomenological aspects of an object – sound, touch, color, taste and smell – which we acquire through our senses. I proposed that semantic information, long neglected by physicists, if used to conceive every day or macroscopic objects, can lead to a new form of quantum theory with new applications, which will also be free of all paradoxes currently surrounding that theory.
Prof. C. R. Muthukrishnan, formerly deputy director of I.I.T. Madras, and a distinguished computer scientist, chaired the whole session ably, and delivered his concluding remarks. Prof. Muthukrishnan is also a member of the International Advisory board of InSIST.
The talks presupposed no familiarity with quantum mechanics and were presented in a manner that was easily accessible to the non-scientist public too. The post-conference publications will soon be available, in both in video and book format, for which order can be placed now. For further information, please contact: contact@insist.ac.in 


Copyright 2011 © Ravi Gomatam

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