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Is Quantum Mechanics lazy ?

  1. Mar 21, 2005 #1
    I mean :

    Suppose we have got a problem, that can be stated as a (set of) binary proposition(s) P(i)....(e.g. "The laws of nature are local","The speed of the particle is v")

    Then, obviously the phycisist's job is to answer "yes" or "no" (by extension to find the velocity)....but since quantum physics is quantum, the lazy man answer could be, and it's then always true !! : It's a superposition of "yes" and "no"....

    So why bother trying to answer, when quantum logic always knows :

    Maybe you just have to find the relative coefficients of the superposed states. (Don't bother to give an answer, it's useless) ??
     
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  3. Mar 22, 2005 #2
    I don't think quantum physics is lazy. It makes extremely accurate predictions but quantum mechanics seems to generate harder calculations than using earlier physics for the same problems. The earlier models just don't work, but I wouldn't say QM makes things easier. The physicist's job is generally harder. Does this in any way answer your question?
     
  4. Mar 22, 2005 #3
    Yes...It's harder, but i feel in some sense we remain suspended in nothing (for example what happens during the measurement process, aso...)....but ok...maybe this non-precision is intrisical to nature...or maybe this is a good reason to continue studying it...thanks
     
  5. Mar 23, 2005 #4

    loseyourname

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    Philosophically, it might be lazy, but so what? Physics isn't philosophy and it shouldn't be. Quantum physicists have answered plenty of questions, just as other physicists have. They are all quantitative questions. Give them some numbers to plug in, and they'll give you an answer. Ask them a philosophical question and they won't.
     
  6. Mar 24, 2005 #5

    SpaceTiger

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    That's not true at all. One of the first things that scientists began debating at the dawn of the quantum age was the interpretation of the statistical treatment of natural phenomena. For example, the Copenhagen Interpretation asserted that the wave function represented a superposition of states, while the realist position believed that there was a true state, but we were missing the information necessary to determine it. More recently, a theory was put forward which suggested, instead, that there are multiple universes and every possible state is realized in their sum total.

    The Copenhagen interpretation is now the most popular one, as it turned out to actually have observable consequences which could be tested (see Bell's Theorem). Although this took it partly out of the realm of philosophy, there are ongoing debates about the other philosophical implications of this interpretation and the possibility still exists for a "non-local" variable that could determine a particle's "true" state (the realist position). In fact, physicists are still working to answer the question posed atop this thread. Whether or not it will remain in the realm of philosophy is yet to be seen, but rest assured these things are being considered.

    What scientists certainly won't do is provide you with a definitive philosophical answer to an untestable question. The fact that we don't do this has nothing to do with laziness (philosophical or otherwise), it has to do with the fact that it would be reckless for us to do otherwise!
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2005
  7. Mar 24, 2005 #6

    loseyourname

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    So you agree with me that they haven't given any philosophical answers (note, a possible answer is not an answer), and furthermore that they shouldn't (in your terms, it would be "reckless"). Why did you comment that what I said wasn't true?
     
  8. Mar 24, 2005 #7

    SpaceTiger

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    You said that scientists only cared about quantitative questions and seemed to imply that they didn't concern themselves with philosophical ones. I'm just saying that exploring the qualitative and philosophical questions is part of the process. Perhaps I was exaggerating when I responded to your post with "That's not true at all," as I don't entirely disagree with your statement. My apologies.
     
  9. Mar 25, 2005 #8

    Chronos

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    I naively believe being passionate about science and convictions is not a bad thing. Science is not about consensus, it is about seeking truth and condensing it to the most simple of terms. Many avenues of exploration can lead to the same conclusion. It's a matter of choice. I abhor logic because it's not exact [quantitative]. And I abhor math because it's not rigorously self consistent [qualitative]. The best of theories marry the best of both approaches, IMHO. Then again, I'm not convinced there is anything wrong with GR and QT being mutually exclusive. This universe need not be smooth, or quantifiable, to exist as it does. We all know they work well within their realms. Finding the boundary between the two is the real challenge.
     
  10. Mar 25, 2005 #9

    loseyourname

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    I don't believe I commented on what scientists "cared" about. Doing so would be blatant speculation. I just commented on what they have accomplished. All of the questions left unanswered that led the original poster to call quantum physics "lazy" are philosophical questions. If scientists want to answer these, that's fine, but it is not their job. It is the job of quantum physics to discover how the universe behaves quantitatively at the microscopic level, and they do that job pretty damn well.

    No problem. Maybe I'm a bit too much of a stickler for categorizing. Physics deals with how things behave, ontology with what things actually "are." I realize that a good deal of work, in both science and philosophy, is interdisciplinary.
     
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