August 21st, 2012

Newborns Grasp Quantum Mechanics | Does Anyone Intuitively Understand Quantum Mechanics?

                  But I alone am drifting, not knowing where I am,
                  Like a newborn babe before it learns to smile,
                  I am alone, without a place to go --
                              Tao te Ching, Chapter 20
                               Gia-Fu Feng/Jane English translation

 ".....Babies lose their intuition for quantum mechanics when they're about 3 months old, which is the age when they learn to play peekaboo,"  When you play the game with an infant who is younger than 3 months (or slightly older, depending on the child), covering your face with your hands elicits no response. The baby simply looks away. "She'll just be like, 'Daddy left the room,'"  Similarly, when you can't see an electron, it could be anywhere — in this room or the room next door.

Other experiments have shown the non-reaction isn't just a case of babies ignoring their parents. Infants in the first few months of life make what are called A-not-B errors. They'll look for a toy under box A if they've found it there in the past, even if they've just watched someone put the toy under box B. Because they cannot see the hidden toy, they think it could be absolutely anywhere.

"But at 3 months old when you play peekaboo, she's looking at you" around your hands. "She knows you're there. That's why the game works, because she knows you're there and when you say, 'Peekaboo,' it's confirmed, and it makes her happy."

And with that giggle, she has lost her ability to feel comfortable with the concept of an object existing anywhere at any time. "She has gained a sense of object permanence," which means her intuition for quantum mechanics has disappeared."

And she, like the rest of us, will never really grasp it again.

Natalie Wolchover (Quoting Matt Lloyd)
Newborns Grasp Quantum Mechanics | Does Anyone Intuitively Understand Quantum Mechanics? | LifesLittleMysteries.com