by David Colarusso - March 25th, 2007
Einstein may have believed God doesn’t play dice, but God need not conform to Einstein’s beliefs. This piece explores the phenomenon of quantum mechanical tunneling whose explanation requires us to accept the reality of quantum mechanics. It’s not a trick; it’s reality.
Update: People have been asking for the math. So here it is. The Sun’s core temp is ~13.6 MK. For hydrogen nuclei the Coulomb barrier is roughly 0.1 MeV. This corresponds to a temperature in excess of 1 GK! Luckily, tunneling and the distribution of speeds among nuclei lower the actual temperature required. So without tunneling even the Sun’s core isn’t hot enough for fusion. To see most of this worked through, check out this link:
for a less mathematical explanation, try: