måndag 12 februari 2018

Anti-Interpretations of QM

Quantum mechanics QM was formed nearly 100 years ago as the modern physics of atoms and molecules taking the mathematical form of Schrödinger's equation.

But the question of the interpretation of QM as the meaning of solutions of Schrödinger's equation in physical terms, has remained without an answer,  despite heroic efforts by the sharpest of minds.

The Reference Frame takes up the question in a recent post stimulated by the following summary of the situation by Scott Aronson:
  • As for Copenhagen, I’ve described it as “shut-up and calculate except without ever shutting up about it”! I regard Bohr’s writings on the subject as barely comprehensible, and Copenhagen as less of an interpretation than a self-conscious anti-interpretation: a studied refusal to offer any account of the actual constituents of the world, and—most of all—an insistence that if you insist on such an account, then that just proves that you cling naïvely to a classical worldview, and haven’t grasped the enormity of the quantum revolution.
  • But the basic split between Many-Worlds and Copenhagen (or better: between Many-Worlds and “shut-up-and-calculate” / “QM needs no interpretation” / etc.), I regard as coming from two fundamentally different conceptions of what a scientific theory is supposed to do for you. Is it supposed to posit an objective state for the universe, or be only a tool that you use to organize your experiences?
So, the accepted answer is the Copenhagen interpretation associated with Bohr-Born-Heisenberg, but it is an anti-interpretation and as such not an interpretation. The only alternative (except the deBroglie-Bohm interpretation which has been fading away since long) is the Many-Worlds interpretation, but that is simply an inflation of the question to make the search for an answer absurd.

Aronson concludes:
  • Indeed, about the only thing I can think of that might definitively settle the debate, would be the discovery of an even deeper level of description than QM—but such a discovery would “settle” the debate only by completely changing the terms of it.
The block to progress is the multi-dimensionality of Schrödinger's equation leading to the unphysical statistical Copenhagen anti-interpretation or the absurd Many-Worlds interpretation.

Exploration of an alternative physical Schrödinger's equation is presented here as a way to change the terms from statistics which is not physics to real physics which is not statistics.

See also this recent article in Scientific American: Thinking Outside the Quantum Box.

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