Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Contextual Quantum Mechanics

  1. Jul 9, 2010 #1
    This is a post I made at another site hoping to get a discussion started but, without success. I believe Quantum Darwinism, which has also had some experimental success recently and is awaiting varification, is a good example of Contextual QM. This seems to me the first real breakthrough since Bell's Inequality and is very deserving of discussion.

    Evidently a new experiment at Innsbruck Institute in Austria has provided the first proof that quantum indeterminacy is dependent upon the context in which measurements are taken, that is, whether or not other measurements are taken at the same time. Supposidly this rules out the possibility that quantum weirdness can be explained in a purely causal manner and, therefore, places further constraints on the number of possible theoretical explanations for the phenomenon. Because Eurekalert quickly removes it's webpages in a day or two I will publish the short article here and welcome any discussion on the topic.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 9, 2010 #2
    The operational interpretation of qm makes quantum theory a theory of measurements. I would be surprized to see evidence pointing the other way - that it isn't contextual. There is another discussion going on this, where i said exactly the same thing, that objects existing with definite properties in space and time is a misnomer.

    Here is the thread:

    Last edited: Jul 9, 2010
  4. Jul 9, 2010 #3
    I agree, I would have been very surprised to see evidence pointing the other way. However, this is a milestone in that it is the first direct experimental evidence. There is also experimental evidence to support Quantum Darwinism, but that is awaiting verification.

    I'm particularly interested in exploring the basic contextual theories such as Quantum Darwinism, Relational Quantum Mechanics, etc. and that other thread seems more dedicated to describing superposition in particular and doesn't even use the terminology of "contextualism". Even the term "operational" seems strange to me and not quite as broad.
  5. Jul 9, 2010 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    This is also a particular interest of mine, so I'm curious about where you're coming from. I have the papers by Rovelli and Zurek, but I have a feeling you may be referring to something else when you say the “terminology of contextualism".

    I started a thread awhile back with some thoughts about Relational QM --

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  6. Jul 9, 2010 #5
    Thank you for the link. It will take some time to read but I must say I am already enjoying the clarity and conciseness of your writing.

    I'm actually what you might call a "Pragmatic Taoist" and my interest is in exploring the subject using a rudamentary Functional Contextualist approach. This has a high degree of relativism and can be applied to the terminology used to describe QM. Essentially, the idea is that words only have demonstrable meaning according to their function in a given context. If quanta are contextual and our language used to describe them is also contextual, then we have the means of describing them in terms of the observer and their context.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook