February 27, 2007

Quantum mechanical Tomb Raider

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at February 27, 2007 1:44 PM

Terence Tao explains quantum mechanics by analogizing to video games (particularly Tomb Raider):

Now, how does the situation look from Lara’s point of view? At the save point, Lara’s reality diverges into a superposition of two non-interacting paths, one in which she dies in the boulder puzzle, and one in which she lives. (Yes, just like that cat.) Her future becomes indeterministic. If she had consulted with an infinitely prescient oracle before reaching the save point as to whether she would survive the boulder puzzle, the only truthful answer this oracle could give is “50% yes, and 50% no”.

This simple example shows that the internal game universe can become indeterministic, even though the external one might be utterly deterministic. However, this example does not fully capture the weirdness of quantum mechanics...

He goes on to make some macabre modifications to the game mechanics in order to improve the analogy, bringing in interference and entanglement. It's an entertaining post, but it gets truly ridiculous in the comments where he devises a Tomb Raider level to test Bell's Inequality.

Tags: Games, Physics, Quantum Information

To link this post to the last one: As discussed today at lunch, Terry Tao is one of those freaks of nature who truly is a genius (a la Einstein and company). I didn't realize he was blogging. I thought he was only writing 20+ long, technical, hard, deep mathematics papers a year -- the slacker!

Posted by: Mason | February 27, 2007 2:13 PM
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