Interpretations of QP

  • #26
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Weren't schrodinger, Oppenheimer, Bohr etc. very deeply religious men? I think they were, but people like to forget that.
Yes they were - but they were religious in the sense Einstein was deeply religious, and modern mathematical physicists like Penrose are religious - they believed in a God like Spinoza's God - not the personal god of the usual religions:

Penrose takes it to an extreme - he believes in the literal existence of a platonic like realm where mathematical truth lies, and presumably God as well. Its very seductive, and I believed in it for a time - but abandoned it when I heard a lecture by Gell-Mann:
https://www.ted.com/talks/murray_gell_mann_on_beauty_and_truth_in_physics

Thanks
Bill
 
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  • #27
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It is my understanding that there is general agreement these days that interpretations are philosophy, not science, but perhaps more knowledgeable folks can chime in if I'm wrong.
Yes, but there is an element of tautology there: We've defined 'science' to exclude anything that is not in principle testable, so if someone can propose a credible experiment to distinguish one interpretation from another then the question of the correctness of that interpretation could be properly considered to be 'science'.

That doesn't happen very often, but it has happened. Perhaps the most important words in Bell's paper are "The example considered above has the advantage that it requires little imagination to envisage the measurements involved actually being made". EPR reality had been a philosophical question; by proving the existence of a falsifiable prediction derived from EPR reality Bell moved the question into the domain of science.
 
  • #28
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Not all interpretations of QM are "merely philosophical." In The Trouble with Physics, Smolin writes, "The problem of quantum mechanics is unlikely to be solved in isolation; instead, the solution will probably emerge as we make progress on the greater effort to unify physics." Our interpretation of QM, the Relational Blockworld, suggests a new approach to quantum gravity that produced an explanation of the Union2 Compilation supernova data that doesn't require dark energy or accelerated expansion, for example.

“Modified Regge Calculus as an Explanation of Dark Energy,” W.M. Stuckey, Timothy McDevitt & Michael Silberstein, Classical & Quantum Gravity29 055015 (2012). http://arxiv.org/abs/1110.3973.

“Explaining the Supernova Data without Accelerating Expansion,” W.M. Stuckey, Timothy McDevitt & Michael Silberstein. Honorable Mention in the Gravity Research Foundation 2012 Awards for Essays on Gravitation, May 2012. International Journal of Modern Physics D21, No. 11, 1242021 (2012) DOI: 10.1142/S0218271812420217

We believe the same approach will eliminate the need for dark matter as well; it will certainly entail a new physics for gravitational lensing.

So, anyway, considering new ontologies compatible with QM isn't necessarily a waste of time for physicists.
 
  • #29
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EDIT: by the way, these interpretations are, as far as I know, n o longer given much consideration in serious QM, which now has more of a "shut up and do the math" point of view. That is to say, what matters is deriving math that describes reality and leaving philosophy to philosophers since it has no bearing on the results.
It depends on what you want to do in science.

Of course, if all what you want is to apply existing theory, then shut up and calculate. This is fine as long as you want to apply existing theory in practical applications. It is also fine if what you want to modify in an existing theory is nothing fundamental - say, if you want to correct values of fundamental constants of the theory, or even modify the standard model by introducing yet another Dirac fermion, gauge field or scalar field.

But this will never lead you beyond quantum theory. If you want to find a theory which is more fundamental than quantum theory, interpretations are the starting point. Find out the weak places of the interpretations and start to correct them by modifying the theory. This job is also part of physics.

It is, in fact, the most interesting part of physics. In some sense, the "shut up and calculate" is the job one can leave to engineering, it is not really physics. It was real physics in the last century, but now? If one understands physics as finding new fundamental theories - to be distinguished from applying say thermodynamics in airplane construction - then your proposal means leaving the whole of physics to philosophers.
 
  • #30
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Hm ... you reckon my point of view is influenced by the fact that I AM an engineer? :smile:
 
  • #31
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Hello everybody, I am new to these forums, and am curious to hear from people who know QP what in their opinion, is the best interpretation?
The best "interpretation" is to just view quantum mechanics as a generalization of probability theory. Classical probability theories assign sizes to elements of a sigma algebra. Sigma algebras are lattices. Quantum theories assign sizes to elements of a lattice that isn't a sigma algebra. Because of this, QM isn't probability theory in the classical sense, but a generalization of it.

I put "interpretation" in quotes, because this isn't an interpretation in the usual sense. It's not an attempt to explain "what's really happening". It's just the realization that we don't need to do that, and that even if there is such an explanation, there's no reason to think that it's present inside QM.

For example, is it a possibility that the conscious observer is indeed crucial to reality, and is the missing link in QP??
Consciousness isn't crucial to reality, but is crucial to science. A statement about the real world must be falsifiable to be considered a theory. To be falsifiable, it must make predictions about results of experiments. A result is one of several possible final states (of an indicator component of a measuring device) that can be easily distinguished by a conscious human. This is why you can't completely eliminate consciousness from discussions of QM. It's not because consciousness requires special physics. It's because QM is science, and science involves consciousness.
 
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