ST book has a lot of Quantum Mechanics -- Is it accurate?

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willpittenger

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Title: <i>The Buried Age</i><br />Author: Christopher L. Bennett<br />Copyright: 2007 by CBS Studios, Inc.<br />ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-3739-7<br />ISBN-10: 1-4165-3739-2<br />UPC: 781416 537397 50799<br />Publisher: Simon Says/Pocket Books<br /><br />The above book involves a lot of quantum mechanics. <font color="yellow">**** SPOILER WARNING ****</font> Those who have not read it yet should read no farther.<br /><br />Amongst other things, a relatively detailed discussion of the "Heisenberg compensator" is included. <br /><br />I intend this thread to be mainly about the physics; however, for those interested in Star Trek, the book includes Picard's court martial after the "loss" of the Stargazer and his setting out in the Enterprise-D. Most of the book is set between those events. Picard meets Janeway, Data, and Troi while learning about Yar and LaForge. Guinan is also present. Picard also commands a fleet of ships. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Will Pittenger<hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Add this user box to your Wikipedia User Page to show your support for the SDC forums: <div style="margin-left:1em">{{User:Will Pittenger/User Boxes/Space.com Account}}</div> </div>
 
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docm

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A "Heisenberg compensator" is a plot device that circumvents the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which states that you cannot simultaneously know the position of a particle, its momentum and quantum state to an arbitrary precision. Without it the particle(s) cannot be transported in context. <br /><br />No, it isn't real. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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Hence this thread, unless it focuses on the alleged physics, is destined for the "Sci fi" forum. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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willpittenger

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>Hence this thread, unless it focuses on the alleged physics, is destined for the "Sci fi" forum.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />As I stated, I wanted the thread to focus on REAL physics -- not imagined or fiction. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Will Pittenger<hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Add this user box to your Wikipedia User Page to show your support for the SDC forums: <div style="margin-left:1em">{{User:Will Pittenger/User Boxes/Space.com Account}}</div> </div>
 
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willpittenger

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>A "Heisenberg compensator" is a plot device that circumvents the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which states that you cannot simultaneously know the position of a particle, its momentum and quantum state to an arbitrary precision. Without it the particle(s) cannot be transported in context.<br /><br />No, it isn't real.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />1. I never asked if it was real or not. In fact, the Wikipedia article Heisenberg compensator states that "It is, of course, possible that they do not actually tell you the precise statistics of each particle; they could just compensate for not being able to know them."<br />2. While the physics in the story might be centered on the compensator's implementation, there is far physics more in the story than just Heisenberg compensators. That was was what I wanted the thread to focus on. NOT fictional physics. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Will Pittenger<hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Add this user box to your Wikipedia User Page to show your support for the SDC forums: <div style="margin-left:1em">{{User:Will Pittenger/User Boxes/Space.com Account}}</div> </div>
 
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dragon04

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What physics do we possess that would explain the ability to predict and subsequently manipulate the indeterminate?<br /><br />Due to the reference and speculative nature, I'd think this puppy belongs in Sci Fi or Phenomena.<br /><br />It's certainly not something to be discussed on this forum. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <em>"2012.. Year of the Dragon!! Get on the Dragon Wagon!".</em> </div>
 
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lampblack

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Maybe that is, in fact, the question that Will is asking -- whether the physics actually exists? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font color="#0000ff"><strong>Just tell the truth and let the chips fall...</strong></font> </div>
 
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willpittenger

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Did you read the book? If you did, you would find that some real physics were invoked. That included a LOT of quantum mechanics. One of their experiments required the compensator, but most would appear correct. The question was "Did they invoke the physics correctly?" "Did they know what they were talking about?" <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Will Pittenger<hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Add this user box to your Wikipedia User Page to show your support for the SDC forums: <div style="margin-left:1em">{{User:Will Pittenger/User Boxes/Space.com Account}}</div> </div>
 
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willpittenger

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>Due to the reference and speculative nature, I'd think this puppy belongs in Sci Fi or Phenomena.<br /><br />It's certainly not something to be discussed on this forum.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />That is why I specifically asked Calli via PM before starting this thread and waiting for her reply. She told me to put it here. Can we stop discussing this and move on to the topic at hand? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Will Pittenger<hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Add this user box to your Wikipedia User Page to show your support for the SDC forums: <div style="margin-left:1em">{{User:Will Pittenger/User Boxes/Space.com Account}}</div> </div>
 
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dragon04

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It brings me back to my original question.<br /><br />By its nature, it seems to me that Quantum Indeterminacy is neither predictable nor subject to any "compensation".<br /><br />IOW, and IMO, a "Heisenberg Compensator" is a snazzy device forever married to the realm of science fiction. I think it's actually oxymoronic device. <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <em>"2012.. Year of the Dragon!! Get on the Dragon Wagon!".</em> </div>
 
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agnau

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So, what quote or experiment would you like to start with to determine the reality of the physics?
 
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willpittenger

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I never questioned whether or not physics was real. I was asking if the author did his homework. How much was fiction (ala the so-called compensator) and how much wasn't? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Will Pittenger<hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Add this user box to your Wikipedia User Page to show your support for the SDC forums: <div style="margin-left:1em">{{User:Will Pittenger/User Boxes/Space.com Account}}</div> </div>
 
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dragon04

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<font color="yellow">I never questioned whether or not physics was real. I was asking if the author did his homework. How much was fiction (ala the so-called compensator) and how much wasn't?</font><br /><br />Ahhhh..... I sort of misunderstood the question.<br /><br /><font color="yellow">How much was fiction (ala the so-called compensator) and how much wasn't?</font><br /><br />Certainly his "compensator" was pure fiction. Other than the fact that Indeterminacy would require such a device based on known physics. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <em>"2012.. Year of the Dragon!! Get on the Dragon Wagon!".</em> </div>
 
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clbennett

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Hello! I'm the author of the book, and I'd be happy to answer any physics questions about it.<br /><br />Of course, <i>Star Trek</i> is a universe whose established laws are somewhat more, err, flexible than ours, but I try to reconcile Trek physics with real physics as much as possible in my work. In the case of the Heisenberg compensator, the term was coined by Rick Sternbach and Michael Okuda, technical consultants for <i>Next Generation, Deep Space Nine</i> and <i>Voyager</i>, as a "black box" device that somehow got around the position-momentum uncertainty and thereby made it possible to rematerialize a transported or replicated object exactly as it had originally been.<br /><br />However, in the years since then, researchers in the field of quantum teleportation (which actually has more to do with quantum computing and the transmission of information than it does with transporting objects) have found out that there is a way to "compensate" for the Uncertainty Principle. There's a good article about it here:<br /><br />http://www.magicdragon.com/UltimateSF/thisthat.html#beam<br /><br />Basically, the idea is that you quantum-entangle the object to be teleported with a reference object, then entangle the reference object with the destination station. The reference object lets you make an end run around the UP, because you don't actually have to measure the exact positions and momenta of your target object's particles; you just need to know how they differ from those of the reference object's particles. This has actually been used successfully to "teleport" photons.<br /><br />Now, the first people I'm aware of to invoke this in fiction about human teleportation are Zack Stentz and Ashley Edward Miller in the <i>Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda</i> episode "The Banks of the Lethe" (which was impressive, since few TV writer/producers are so good with physics research). It's probably also
 
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lampblack

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Dear Christopher,<br /><br />Thank you for so graciously deciding to stop by and answer Will's question. It would appear that your book, like all truly good science fiction, has a firm toe-hold in known reality.<br /><br />All the best... <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font color="#0000ff"><strong>Just tell the truth and let the chips fall...</strong></font> </div>
 
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vandivx

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>book, like all truly good science fiction, has a firm toe-hold in known reality. <p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />of course problem is when books like this one are not marked Sci-Fi on cover (I have no idea if that is the case here but I mean that generally) and people who don't know their physics or aren't too secure in their knowledge of it get confused and or even try to get their physics education from such books<br /><br />I think these types of books are more appropriate for those who already have at least basic but properly digested knowledge of physics so they can then appreciate the fictional extension of it<br /><br />vanDivX <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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clbennett

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>of course problem is when books like this one are not marked Sci-Fi on cover (I have no idea if that is the case here but I mean that generally) and people who don't know their physics or aren't too secure in their knowledge of it get confused and or even try to get their physics education from such books <br /><br />I think these types of books are more appropriate for those who already have at least basic but properly digested knowledge of physics so they can then appreciate the fictional extension of it<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />Umm, it's a <i>Star Trek</i> book set in outer space in the 24th century -- I think it's pretty obvious that it's science fiction. I doubt very much that anyone would mistake it for a textbook.<br /><br />And I don't agree that people need to have a good grounding in real physics before they can be exposed to the "fictional extension of it." Just the opposite -- reading science fiction can help people get interested in real science in the first place. That's how it was for me as a child. <i>Star Trek</i> got me interested in space and science. Since then, prose SF has often been my first exposure to many scientific concepts. And I've gone from there to reading about the real science underlying the fiction, learning for myself where the fiction was accurate and where it took dramatic license.<br /><br />So have a little faith in people. Most folks are able to understand the difference between fiction and reality -- to recognize that fiction, at best, just points the way toward things that might be interesting to learn about, and be inspired by it to get more detailed and accurate information elsewhere.
 
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MeteorWayne

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<img src="/images/icons/laugh.gif" /><br /><br /><font color="yellow"><br />Umm, it's a Star Trek book set in outer space in the 24th century -- I think it's pretty obvious that it's science fiction. I doubt very much that anyone would mistake it for a textbook. <br /><br /><br />So have a little faith in people. Most folks are able to understand the difference between fiction and reality -- to recognize that fiction, at best, just points the way toward things that might be interesting to learn about, and be inspired by it to get more detailed and accurate information elsewhere. </font><br /><br />Well if you spent a little time in the forum called Phenomena, your assumtions would be proven incorrect <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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vandivx

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well, yeah, I see what you saying BUT<br /><br />this guy asked how the QMechanics part of the book is good, if I remember well, meaning he thinks he might get some real physics education from that book and for all I know he just might, it doesn't mean its all invalid but the problem then is how is he going to differentiate right stuff from sci-fi part, it is not very obvious if you don't know the official theories because they are as weird to commonsense thinking as real sci-fi stuff, QMs in particular<br /><br />otherwise all things being equal, you're right in picking up interest in physics by reading such books and all that, I wouldn't be against it but read what MeteorWayne says <br />LOL<br />some folks around here think star trek stuff only needs just a little bit more time to become reality <br /><br />vanDivX <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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willpittenger

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Actually, I asked because I could not tell :))) where the real science ended and the fiction began. No one has answered that although Mr. Bennett almost did that. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Will Pittenger<hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Add this user box to your Wikipedia User Page to show your support for the SDC forums: <div style="margin-left:1em">{{User:Will Pittenger/User Boxes/Space.com Account}}</div> </div>
 
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clbennett

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Well, feel free to ask further questions, and I'll do my best to address them. All I can say on this is, quantum entanglement is real and is used in the "teleportation" of information in quantum-computing research, and Bose-Einstein condensates are real and are used in the same research. The idea that this could ever be used as the basis for actual teleportation of people or objects is most likely fictional; it's theoretically possible using the same principles that are being used today to teleport photons, but the logistical and practical hurdles are probably insurmountable. Also, it would entail destroying the original and creating an exact copy, which raises all sorts of prickly ethical and philosophical questions.
 
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willpittenger

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BTW: It is a credit to your skill as an author that I had to ask where the fictional physics began. Please keep up the good work. Personally, I do think that invoking such discussion of real science in a SF book is a good idea -- up to a point. If you put too much in of a complex nature (like quantum mechanics), readers might get turned off and toss the book. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Will Pittenger<hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Add this user box to your Wikipedia User Page to show your support for the SDC forums: <div style="margin-left:1em">{{User:Will Pittenger/User Boxes/Space.com Account}}</div> </div>
 
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vandivx

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>it would entail destroying the original and creating an exact copy, which raises all sorts of prickly ethical and philosophical questions.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />if it was 'exact copy' as in 100% exact, I don't see personally any problem with being coppied like that, after all one's identity is largely a matter of one's mind image of himself and the body is only approximate as it is, even now (after all we change troughout our lifetimes don't we plus one looses piece of skin here and there and gets scars made and even looses some little parts of himself - like you can have appendix removed or whatever - and that's normal)<br /><br />as we know nothing is perfect on macro scales, there is no such thing as perfect copy or perfect anything possible in this sense where perfect means 100%<br /><br />if one day teleportation should become possible it would have to be used only limited times on humans because of the imperfections that would build up in successiove teleportations whereas for example libraries lending out some trashy novel could beam it up from their storage halfway around the world as many times as they wanted because who cares as long as its redable and they could always make extra copy<br /><br />it would be sort of like being X-ray irradiated for your tooth ache which is a procedure you don't want to expose yourself to it unnecessarily too many times, that's why operators leave the room during irradiation, in the same way it might be established that a given human could be beamed up only several times in his lifetime, would have to be treted as a sort of rare procedure to undergo that nobody would want to waste like going to vacation to Hawai and get beamed in to a beach hotel there from NY LOL<br /><br />vanDivX <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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willpittenger

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Reminds me of the <i>Timeline</i> movie. One of the characters describes time travel as being faxed. Later we find out what happens if you travel too many times. You end up a "fax of a fax."<br /><br />Actually, the dematerialization process Chris described that you called acceptable might hurt a bit before that "copy" of you dies. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Will Pittenger<hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Add this user box to your Wikipedia User Page to show your support for the SDC forums: <div style="margin-left:1em">{{User:Will Pittenger/User Boxes/Space.com Account}}</div> </div>
 
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vandivx

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yeah, with thinking like this it is at least like 90% certain someone thought about that before you, I didn't see the movie BTW<br /><br />actually it should happen so fast you wouldn't feel anything I think, that's why getting shot doesn't hurt or if someone spikes you through the chest with a sword, even being smashed in a car accident doesn't hurt when it is happening, it happens too fast for you to register hurting and also body has protection in that it is not sending nerve 'hurting signals' in these situations, I'd get beamed without second thought <img src="/images/icons/laugh.gif" /> like to Mars (in a space suit of course and with assurance I would be beamed back after I am done sightseeing there)<br /><br />vanDivX <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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