I tried to think of a witty, ironic title for this post, but in the end, I simply couldn’t. The above title is a literal statement of fact.
A reader named Warren Smith informs me of an Australian TV commercial (which you can watch on YouTube), in which two fashion models have the following conversation:
Model 1: But if quantum mechanics isn’t physics in the usual sense — if it’s not about matter, or energy, or waves — then what is it about?
Model 2: Well, from my perspective, it’s about information, probabilities, and observables, and how they relate to each other.
Model 1: That’s interesting!
The commercial then flashes the tagline “A more intelligent model,” followed by a picture of a Ricoh printer.
More intelligent, or simply more shameless? Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, allow me to quote from Lecture 9 of my Quantum Computing Since Democritus notes:
But if quantum mechanics isn’t physics in the usual sense — if it’s not about matter, or energy, or waves, or particles — then what is it about? From my perspective, it’s about information and probabilities and observables, and how they relate to each other.
For almost the first time in my life, I’m at a loss for words. I don’t know how to respond. I don’t know which of 500,000 possible jokes to make. Help me, readers. Should I be flattered? Should I be calling a lawyer?
Update (10/3): [Sydney Morning Herald] [The Age] [Slashdot] [BoingBoing] [AdNews] [Scientific American blog] (Let me know if you find others) (I’m actually in Riga, Latvia, where it’s 8:30am, and just woke up to find all this. I’m going to take a shower now.)
Also: Please let me know if you get any more “CPU quota exceeded” errors. I just enabled an option to speed up PHP scripts, which might or might not solve the problem. Bluehost sucks — never use them for anything!
Update (10/4): Thanks, everyone, for the free legal advice! From half of you I’ve learned that I’d be an arrogant, stereotypically-American jerk to pursue this case further; from the other half I’ve learned that I’d be a naïve idiot not to. The longer I blog, the more I despair of ever achieving my central goal in life, namely for everyone to like me.
Also: Many commenters seem to assume the pilfered quote is just my expression of the conventional wisdom. Well, it should be, and I wish it were! But as Avi Wigderson pointed out to me, the idea that quantum mechanics is about information rather than waves or particles is still extremely non-standard, and would have been considered insane fifteen years ago.
Update (10/5): This is not to say it’s my idea (as other commenters assumed I was saying)! If any entity can claim “ownership” of the idea, I would think it’s the entire quantum computing and information community. The longer I blog, the more I despair of ever achieving my secondary goal in life, namely for everyone to understand me.