Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How to teach alternative medicine to your dog

A harmonic oscillator in classical mechanics (...
A harmonic oscillator in classical mechanics (A-B) and quantum mechanics (C-H). In (A-B), a ball, attached to a spring, oscillates back and forth. (C-H) are six solutions to the Schrödinger Equation for this situation. The horizontal axis is position, the vertical axis is the real part (blue) or imaginary part (red) of the wavefunction. (C,D,E,F), but not (G,H), are stationary states (energy eigenstates), which come from solutions to the Time-Independent Schrödinger Equation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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me: Hey Gem. Where have you been?

Gem: Just came back from Italy. I was on a mission to find out how Italians manufacture and sell helicopters.

me: oh, interesting! Just wanted to ask you something. Do you know anything about quantum mechanics?

Gem: Sure, I have taught quantum mechanics to my dog. But he understood the entire concept in just one sentence.

me: Oh, what was that? BTW you have an intelligent dog!

Gem: The act of measurement causes the set of probabilities to immediately and randomly assume only one of the possible values. The act of measurement changes everything.

me: Oh, What a Bohr (My expression was blank. So the readers may safely assume that the pun was not intended). The act of measurement is fundamental to us doctors. We take measurements all the time. BP, Pulse, Blood sugar.... And we measure many things during clinical trials!

Gem: You should try alternative medicine then! They don't measure much.

me: Don't tell me you believe in the memory of water molecules beyond the Avagadro limit in homeopathy or the healing powers of yoga. Orac would plan a very respectful insolence on your beliefs.

Gem: See that's the problem. You make fun of Dr Prasad's anti-diabetic laddoos. You insist that only RCTs can differentiate a placebo from a drug. I do agree with you. But all I am saying is that before the act of RCT a placebo could be a drug and a drug could be a placebo. All I am concerned about is the effect.

me: But how??

Gem: If you still don't understand, ask my dog.