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Posts Tagged ‘Newtonian Laws’

Approximations

January 29, 2014 Comments off

einstein quotes 1

Today, I have a Christianity/quantum mechanics post for y’all. I know, weird combo. I won’t go into gory details of what I am studying, don’t worry. I will make a point to be pretty general for people not familiar with anything past high-school physics. I know not all of my followers are Christians, but those that are might be interested. I welcome comments from all of my followers though, Christian or not.

This all started when I was sitting in my time-dependent quantum dynamics class, and something the professor said hit me in a weird way.

He said (truthfully) that everything I had learned previously in quantum mechanics classes (of which I have had four in graduate school so far) was completely wrong in most instances. It was all done time-independently, which of course means that it is an approximation, as it doesn’t take an expert in quantum mechanics to realize that we need to take into account how things change with time eventually. Everything I had learned was correct only in a limited sense, in a particular application. If I am looking at a snapshot of reality where time is removed from consideration, then the quantum mechanics I had learned will work. Otherwise, which is most cases, I need a different, more advanced, and more general theory.

What is fascinating to me is where I have been before now, and how much of what I have learned is actually an approximation. An approximation is a way of limiting some very difficult aspect of a concept to make it more accessible or more applicable to a certain situation. Rounding numbers is an example of an approximation that we deal with every day. It would be impractical to pay exactly $21.639175 for a $19.99 item with Texas’ 8.25% sales tax. So we approximate.

What influence has this had on my studies of science? Read more…

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