Monday, January 23, 2017

Quantum politics

Even before the protagonist of the television series Breaking Bad took the Heisenberg alias, the viewer either knew where he stands (how he feels about something), or what he is doing (or planning to do), but never both! 

This seems to me to have a remarkable real-world resonance. Conjugate variables and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle may well be topics high on the agenda at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Hohenzollernstrasse 110 in Munich, just 150 metres from my flat, was home to the eminent physicist in the 1920s.

Werner Heisenberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for 1932 ‘for the creation of quantum mechanics’. He was a principal scientist in the Nazi nuclear weapon project during World War II. Heisenberg had arrived in Munich in 1919 to fight the Bavarian Soviet Republic established a year earlier. Five decades later he recalled those days as youthful fun, like “playing cops and robbers and so on; it was nothing serious at all”. He just might have understood ‘alternative facts’. Or he might have agreed with the Meet The Press interviewer Chuck Todd who rounded on the Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, and retorted that "Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods."

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