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Are quantum field only calculation tools?

  1. Jun 10, 2011 #1
    Do quantum field have ontological reality or are they only mathematical calculational tools just like virtual particles? What's the mainstream consensus?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 11, 2011 #2

    A. Neumaier

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    The main stream consensus in QFT is shut-up-and-calculate. This really works well in practice, but does not give a good intuition about reality.

    My thermal interpretation discussed in https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=490492 is not yet mainstream but gives the expectation values of a quantum field (not the quantum field itself) the ontological status of beables.
  4. Jun 11, 2011 #3
    In my personal opinion, quantum fields are "calculational tools". Here I disagree with Dr. Neumaier. Please visit thread https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=474666 . It can help you make your own mind.

  5. Jun 11, 2011 #4
    So the statement particles being just momentum and energy of the field is just a conjecture? Meaning someday it is still possible particles are primary and field is secondary or nonexistent?
  6. Jun 11, 2011 #5
    In my opinion, this is a valid statement, which should be seriously discussed.

  7. Jun 12, 2011 #6
    In Copenhagen. It is said that what is interfering is only in the equation. Meaning in the inteference pattern, you can see the pattern but it doesn't prove the particles are physical interfering. This is the essence of the Copenhagen Interpretation.

    Now is there other examples in physics where the dynamics only occur in the equations and there is nothing that physically happens? I can think one now.. virtual particles being just mathematical artifacts and not physical there at all. What else?

    But for double slit. Does it makes sense the interference is only in the equation and not really there physically? Perhaps Copenhagen is popular is because there are many examples in physics where things only occur in the equations and not physically? Pls. cite other examples so we can appreciate Copenhagen better.
  8. Jun 13, 2011 #7


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    I also vote for calculation tool.
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