Take the 2-minute tour ×
Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. It's 100% free, no registration required.

There is a thread in Physicsforums.com which states due to Quantum Mechanics, if you wait long enough diamonds will appear in your pocket, it also states its possible for all your atoms to spontaneously re-arrange themselves so you turn into a Boeing airplane. Surely this is fiction?

share|improve this question
7  
You don't even need quantum mechanics for this. In ordinary classical mechanics if you wait long enough every configuration that is compatible with the handful of conservation laws (energy, momentum, angular momentum, charge, etc.) is likely to occur. The probability for a configuration with entropy $S$ is proportional to $\mathrm{e}^{-S}$, so low entropy configurations are exponentially improbable. Conversely, you need to wait a time of the order $\mathrm{e}^{+S}$ for it be probable. These ideas come under what's called ergodic theory en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ergodic_hypothesis –  Michael Brown Jan 19 '13 at 14:16
3  
Er...but "long enough", expressed as the mean time until some event can easily exceed the current lifetime of the universe or even the expected time until local heat death or the big rip. Or many times those spans. Once it gets to that level, improbable because effectively congruant with impossible. –  dmckee Jan 19 '13 at 19:30
1  
Please link to the relevant thread in the Physicsforums.com. –  Qmechanic Dec 17 '13 at 13:23
1  
Related: physics.stackexchange.com/q/30172/2451 –  Qmechanic Dec 17 '13 at 13:25
2  
Theoretically yes as in Jinawees answer or Michael's comment (which should be an answer). But it is analogous to the "infinite monkey" thought experiment, the timescales are fantastically long as in dmckee's comment. –  WetSavannaAnimal aka Rod Vance Dec 17 '13 at 13:26

1 Answer 1

There is a thread in Physicsforums.com which states due to Quantum Mechanics, if you wait long enough diamonds will appear in your pocket, it also states its possible for all your atoms to spontaneously re-arrange themselves so you turn into a Boeing airplane. Surely this is fiction?

No, it could be possible. That's why we say that in Quantum Mechanics we deal with probabilities. As Gell-Mann said: That which is not forbidden is mandatory.

But at our scale, the probability that this type of effects occur is sooo small, that it's negligible.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.