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How would you interpret experiments if you didn't know the theory?

  1. Jan 9, 2014 #1


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    Suppose that you know the results of all mayor quantum experiments, such as two-slit experimet, violation of Bell inequalities, delayed choice quantum eraser, etc. But suppose also that you do NOT know anything about quantum theory, such as superposition principle, Schrodinger equation, Hilbert space, brackets, operators, etc.

    How would you interpret these strange phenomena? Would you conclude that nature is fundamentally probabilistic? Would you conclude that nature is non-local? What you conclude that there is no physical reality before it is measured? ... Would your interpretation resemble some of the already existing interpretations, such as Copenhagen, ensemble, Bohmian, many-world, etc.? ... Or would you perhaps develop some completely new ideas to explain the experiments?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 9, 2014 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    I might try what this guy reckons:

    But it's hard to know because I know the answer - I know its simply just another generalized probability model - in fact its the simplest one after standard probability theory, so when I see standard probability theory wouldn't work its the next one I would try. Of course the only reason we know that is the research that QM engendered. I am just hoping some mathematician would have figured that out while investigating probability models in general which have wide use in many areas such as Actuarial science. Like tensor calculus had been invented before Einstein needed it.

  4. Jan 9, 2014 #3


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    I think you need to explain a little bit more on the level of "ignorance" of this person you have in mind. For instance, is this some Joe Schmoe that you grabbed just off the street and showed him all of these results? Or are picking up a physicist from the first decade of the 1900's and showing him/her all these results?

    Note that observations such as the double slit were well known even before quantum theory, and had an existing explanation via wave theory. It is only when we improved our technology, and the ability to have single-photon sources, did the double slit experiment evolved into the Mach-Zhender experiment that showed such quantum features clearly. So I'm assuming that when you say "double slit", you are referring to the whole family of such similar experiments, not just the double-slit experiment we give in intro physics classes.

    And this may be a separate issue, but I also want to say that many of these experiments would not have been thought of had it not been due to the theory. Certainly, no one would have thought of the EPR/Bell-type experiments if it weren't solely to test and verify it. After all, without quantum theory, what possible impetus would there be to actually come up with such an experiment?

  5. Jan 9, 2014 #4


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    I meant the latter.
  6. Jan 9, 2014 #5


    Staff: Mentor

    PF is not the place to develop new theories, nor is it the place to develop new interpretations.
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