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[project] Watched Teapots - Transience Divine
December 12th, 2006
12:46 am


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[project] Watched Teapots
I got an email today from a CUNY student who was evidently blown away when (s)he came across my old MIT site and said someone should make a movie about me. I'm tickled pink, but I don't know how to respond. It made me want to start collecting and publishing my projects again though-- maybe I'll start with this one:

Yesterday I happened across a couple ESGers watching for a pot to boil. I think they were trying to make it take longer so they wouldn't have to go back to tooling. Alas, according to Mr. Newton, it's just a superstition that a watched pot will take any longer to boil... but I got to thinking: what about Quantum Teapots?

The reasoning goes that if you're diligent enough at observing your teapot, you can force its wave probability function to keep collapsing into a discrete non-boiling state. I decided I needed to do some experiments (well, not *real* experiments-- I am an intellectual after all).

The Technicals: So I built some Newtonian and Quantum Teapots in MATLAB. For simplicity, I only consider conductive heat transfer (no actual boiling in these pots!) across discrete water column elements. Every time step of the Quantum Teapot, I evolve the Schrodinger uncertainty of the water elements in the teapot and then apply the heat equation as a probability superposition of 10 possible discrete energy states.

Sadly, the verdict is that even a zen master meditating on a teapot could not stop it from boiling. My dreams are crushed. Like a PhD comic, gobs of work don't warrant more than one graph:

No matter how hard I looked at the teapots, I couldn't get them to diverge from the Newtonian curve in even vaguely interesting ways.

So I'm unexpected surrounded by boiling quantum teapots. Anyone want some quantum tea?

Current Music: ...deceived me into thinking I had something to protect

(3 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:December 12th, 2006 08:23 am (UTC)
While I quite like tea, I would, in this instance, appreciate no tea, if you please.
[User Picture]
Date:December 12th, 2006 04:51 pm (UTC)
But they say a watched pot *never* boils.
[User Picture]
Date:December 14th, 2006 05:27 am (UTC)
Ah, so it's really a question of relativistic teapots, moving away at the speed of light. Well why didn't you say so in the first place?
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