How important is Bell?

  • Thread starter DrChinese
  • Start date
  • #26
SpectraCat
Science Advisor
1,395
1
Yes but Einsteins objection to QM was essentially philosophical in nature. He could not accept the loss of determinism. You cannot do science without addressing complex epistemological and ontological questions. Look at string theory and the objections to it for example.

Separating science from philosophy is like separating the sound from the music. Without the sound there is no music. Without the music the sound is just noise.
While I understand your point, and tend to agree with it for my own personal purposes, there are entire branches of science where progress is made on a daily basis without any direct (or even indirect) consideration of philosophical issues. As I said above, I agree that our understanding of the scientific method relies on philosophy. This becomes particularly important at the frontiers of science, because in such areas the distinction between data and interpretation can become quite blurry. However the application of the scientific method, which has been going on for millenia in one form or another, does not.
 
  • #27
37
0
While I understand your point, and tend to agree with it for my own personal purposes, there are entire branches of science where progress is made on a daily basis without any direct (or even indirect) consideration of philosophical issues.
Only because the major philosophical issues in these branches have been settled long ago. For example few people doubt the existence of atoms today. But Ernst Mack, who influenced Einsteins development of relativity, didn't believe in atoms. I think there was a school of doubters clear up to WWII. Implicitly then when we accept atoms we are rejecting Mach's phenomenalism. Qm may force us to reexamine that.

We have a similar problem today with string theory that may not be settled for a hundred years.

And that is what is important about Bell. It forces us to examine the epistemological and ontological consequences of our theory.
 
  • #28
Physics Monkey
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
1,363
34
I like this question. I will just briefly state why I don't think Bell (= Bell inequalities, etc.) is that important.

1. I accept that Bell is a useful filter for theories.
2. I accept that Bell plays some role in "foundations" (related to 1)

The reason why I don't think Bell is terribly important is because I don't see it leading to anything else. It feels like the end rather than the beginning for me. Perhaps this is simply my ignorance. If so, I would be happy to be corrected.

I am a practicing quantum many-body theorist which means I think about all the great mysteries associated with entanglement, many interacting quantum dof, quantum computers, quantum dynamics, and all that good stuff. I have never used Bell for anything in my field, and I don't know anyone in the same general line of work who has. The people I know who work with Bell seem mostly to test the inequality in ever more elaborate settings. This is why I see Bell as an end rather than a beginning. For my money, there are a lot of ideas in physics (not to mention science in general) that are more profound and productive than Bell. This is not to say that Bell isn't cool, only that my criteria for importance are based in part on the ability of an idea to lead to new ideas and results.
 
  • #29
atyy
Science Advisor
13,708
1,731
I like this question. I will just briefly state why I don't think Bell (= Bell inequalities, etc.) is that important.

1. I accept that Bell is a useful filter for theories.
2. I accept that Bell plays some role in "foundations" (related to 1)

The reason why I don't think Bell is terribly important is because I don't see it leading to anything else. It feels like the end rather than the beginning for me. Perhaps this is simply my ignorance. If so, I would be happy to be corrected.

I am a practicing quantum many-body theorist which means I think about all the great mysteries associated with entanglement, many interacting quantum dof, quantum computers, quantum dynamics, and all that good stuff. I have never used Bell for anything in my field, and I don't know anyone in the same general line of work who has. The people I know who work with Bell seem mostly to test the inequality in ever more elaborate settings. This is why I see Bell as an end rather than a beginning. For my money, there are a lot of ideas in physics (not to mention science in general) that are more profound and productive than Bell. This is not to say that Bell isn't cool, only that my criteria for importance are based in part on the ability of an idea to lead to new ideas and results.
So you'd put the chiral anomaly above the inequality?
 
  • #30
Physics Monkey
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
1,363
34
So you'd put the chiral anomaly above the inequality?
I would. I would especially put above the inequality the general idea of anomalies - that certain quantum theories may inevitably break a symmetry of the classical limit.
 
  • #31
atyy
Science Advisor
13,708
1,731
I would. I would especially put above the inequality the general idea of anomalies - that certain quantum theories may inevitably break a symmetry of the classical limit.
I wonder if it's known which work Bell preferred?

BTW, have any anomalies been awarded the Nobel Prize (not that that's necessarily the final indicator, but it's good for bar talk)?

Also, just to throw in an additional comparison, how about the Berry phase? In a sense that's in old quantum mechanics and has some of the character of "fundamentals", and so could be an end, yet historically it seems to have been a beginning too. (They really need to award a Nobel for that, for IgNobel aesthetics;)
 
  • #32
Physics Monkey
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
1,363
34
I wonder if it's known which work Bell preferred?

BTW, have any anomalies been awarded the Nobel Prize (not that that's necessarily the final indicator, but it's good for bar talk)?

Also, just to throw in an additional comparison, how about the Berry phase? In a sense that's in old quantum mechanics and has some of the character of "fundamentals", and so could be an end, yet historically it seems to have been a beginning too. (They really need to award a Nobel for that, for IgNobel aesthetics;)
I don't know, that's an interesting question.

There has been a Dirac Prize partially for the chiral anomaly given to Adler and Jackiw (Bell had died).

I would also put Berry's phase above Bell's theorem. I have used it often, as have many others.
 
  • #33
662
2
I like this question. I will just briefly state why I don't think Bell (= Bell inequalities, etc.) is that important.

1. I accept that Bell is a useful filter for theories.
2. I accept that Bell plays some role in "foundations" (related to 1)

The reason why I don't think Bell is terribly important is because I don't see it leading to anything else. It feels like the end rather than the beginning for me. Perhaps this is simply my ignorance. If so, I would be happy to be corrected.

I am a practicing quantum many-body theorist which means I think about all the great mysteries associated with entanglement, many interacting quantum dof, quantum computers, quantum dynamics, and all that good stuff. I have never used Bell for anything in my field, and I don't know anyone in the same general line of work who has. The people I know who work with Bell seem mostly to test the inequality in ever more elaborate settings. This is why I see Bell as an end rather than a beginning. For my money, there are a lot of ideas in physics (not to mention science in general) that are more profound and productive than Bell. This is not to say that Bell isn't cool, only that my criteria for importance are based in part on the ability of an idea to lead to new ideas and results.
I believe Bell was due to get the Nobel Prize in Physics after the work of Aspect, Zeilinger (maybe later?) and others confirmed his result, but he died unexpectedly and Nobels are not awarded posthumously.

Bell settled the EPR argument, and showed local hidden variables were not nature, so quite a big deal really.
 
Last edited:
  • #34
atyy
Science Advisor
13,708
1,731
I don't know, that's an interesting question.

There has been a Dirac Prize partially for the chiral anomaly given to Adler and Jackiw (Bell had died).

I would also put Berry's phase above Bell's theorem. I have used it often, as have many others.
Jackiw, Bell's collaborator, has, with Shimony, written a very interesting article about Bell's entire work, beginning from his early years. At first, I was going to read it mischievously as "depth"=inequality and "breadth"=anomaly, but the two strands seem to have run in parallel. http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0105046
 
Last edited:
  • #35
Physics Monkey
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
1,363
34
I believe Bell was due to get the Nobel Prize in Physics after the work of Aspect, Zeilinger (maybe later?) and others confirmed his result, but he died unexpectedly and Nobels are not awarded posthumously.
Perhaps. Or perhaps he would have gotten it for anomalies instead. This is (partially) what the Dirac medal was given to Jackiw and Adler for after Bell died.

Bell settled the EPR argument, and showed local hidden variables were not nature, so quite a big deal really.
Well, as I already explained, I believe such statements imply a degree of objectivity that is debatable. Don't get me wrong, Bell's theorem is great, but in my view it has more to do with what quantum mechanics is not than with what quantum mechanics is. I am more interested in the latter and hence place greater subjective value on ideas that I feel advance that goal. And I continue to see the theorem as an end rather than a beginning.
 
  • #36
246
3
To me Bell's Inequality seems like Michelson and Morley's result. We are just waiting for someone to explain it. I think the explanation will be as important as Einstein's.
 
  • #37
I believe Bell was due to get the Nobel Prize in Physics after the work of Aspect, Zeilinger (maybe later?) and others confirmed his result, but he died unexpectedly and Nobels are not awarded posthumously.
Aspect and Zeilinger are (principally) experimentalists. Their experiments confirmed the QM result: NOT Bell's.
 

Related Threads for: How important is Bell?

  • Last Post
Replies
19
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
0
Views
1K
Replies
1
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
2K
Replies
2
Views
654
Replies
3
Views
813
Replies
199
Views
9K
  • Last Post
Replies
4
Views
660
Top