Golden ratio observed in quantum states


There’s an interesting, and slightly surprising observation published this week. Apparently there’s a nanostate that is unexpectedly demonstrating a phi (1.618) based symmetry.

Generally when we observe quantum states they tend to be chaotic or “smeary” with little connection to the sorts of common arrangements of matter we find the macroscopic world. Take for instance the golden ratio or mean that is observed in many biological systems (like the nautilus shell) and in human symmetry (Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man) and even in architecture (the Parthenon). We know that it generally results in biology and human constructs because of the basic principles of Euclidean geometry (and/or the use of the Fibonacci series).

But at the quantum level intuition would suggest that uncertainty would smear out any sort of rigid adherence to the idealized world of Euclidian thought.

From the report of the news online:

“The observed resonant states in cobalt niobate are a dramatic laboratory illustration of the way in which mathematical theories developed for particle physics may find application in nanoscale science and ultimately in future technology. Prof. Tennant remarks on the perfect harmony found in quantum uncertainty instead of disorder. ‘Such discoveries are leading physicists to speculate that the quantum, atomic scale world may have its own underlying order. Similar surprises may await researchers in other materials in the quantum critical state.'”

Read the full article here.

If there’s an underlying order in the quantum world, that would be a rather significant philosophical shift. So I’m guessing this meaning of this result is going to be rather highly debated. Is it just an artifact of a group theory based symmetry? (I think I remember that the E8 lie group has this symmetry.) Or is it a sign that there’s a deeper underlying order to reality than we have heretofore uncovered?

If so, it would probably be sort of like the order that’s being suggested as result of the Large Numbers observations that notes the apparent interconnectedness of the fundamental constants of Physics.

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Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...

1 Comment

  1. Fr craig says

    awesome… ignorant as I am of physics, I love this ‘gut feeling’ that the golden ratio speaks to and of God somehow…

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