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Quantum Waver

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- TL;DR Summary
- Physicist becomes convinced Schrodinger's equation describes real waves, because they can be made visible in the double-slit experiment using a laser and smoke machine.

Physicist Dr. Muthuna Yoganathan thought the wave function was just a calculation tool, which is the standard minimal interpretation of QM. But then she started doing her own versions of the double-slit experiment at home using a red laser, culminating in purchasing a smoke machine. With that, you can see the entire trajectory of the laser beam as it forms an interference pattern on a screen. This is in contrast to how the double-slit is usually presented, where the wave isn't visible, and the wave function is seen as a mathematical tool for making stochastic predictions.

At 10:02 in the video, she says:

Which is exactly the way I thought about the double-slit until this video. Because that's how it's been explained.

This does leave the measurement problem untouched, which is the basis for Bohr's complementarity and the probabilistic collapse of the wave function. Dr. Yoganathan has another video in which she discusses how Stern-Gerlach devices can be setup to determine whether a measurement has been performed using a single particle that has decohered with it's environment. Which is empirical evidence that you don't need collapse to perform a measurement.

The Copenhagen School of thought inspired treating the wave function as a calculation tool. Somehow, the classical/macroscopic world emerged from the quantum/microphysical, but the how was treated as a mystery. Perhaps it was just a random selection of possible values. But the wave function describes wave behavior. It would be extremely odd if something wasn't waving. Such as the excitations in quantum fields.

At 10:02 in the video, she says:

You know, I've given this explanation to students for years, but I've never taken the whole wave picture very seriously. Yes, I know that to make the right prediction for the double-slit, you would have to use waves in your calculation. But i thought they were just that. Just calculation tools. Literally in quantum mechanics the waves are complex valued. So instead in my head, I thought of the light as particle when it exited the laser, and then a particle again when it got measured at the wall. But in between, it just seemed like there's nothing you could really say about the light besides a bunch of equations. But this next experiment changed my mind and made me finally feel that the waves are actually real.

Which is exactly the way I thought about the double-slit until this video. Because that's how it's been explained.

This does leave the measurement problem untouched, which is the basis for Bohr's complementarity and the probabilistic collapse of the wave function. Dr. Yoganathan has another video in which she discusses how Stern-Gerlach devices can be setup to determine whether a measurement has been performed using a single particle that has decohered with it's environment. Which is empirical evidence that you don't need collapse to perform a measurement.

The Copenhagen School of thought inspired treating the wave function as a calculation tool. Somehow, the classical/macroscopic world emerged from the quantum/microphysical, but the how was treated as a mystery. Perhaps it was just a random selection of possible values. But the wave function describes wave behavior. It would be extremely odd if something wasn't waving. Such as the excitations in quantum fields.