New hypothesis of continuous wave function collapse

  • #1
jasciu
3
1
TL;DR Summary
Observation or measurement does not collapse the wave function, its just that it is forming and collapsing continuously and we simply catch it in its present state at the moment of observation.
In standard quantum mechanics, the wavefunction remains in a superposition of multiple possible states until it is "measured" or observed, at which point it collapses into one definite state. However, in this new model, there is no special role for measurement or observation. Instead, all systems - whether microscopic particles or macroscopic objects - undergo spontaneous and continuous collapse of their wavefunctions at regular intervals. So rather than observation causing the wavefunction to collapse, in this model the collapse is happening automatically and constantly, independent of any external observation or measurement. When we make an observation or measurement, we are simply "catching" the system in whatever definite state it has spontaneously collapsed into at that particular moment in time.

The proposed benefit is that this automatic, spontaneous collapse could potentially resolve the paradox of why the macroscopic world around us appears classical and definite, rather than existing in a quantum superposition as naive interpretations of quantum theory might suggest. The idea of spontaneous wave function collapse proposed in this modified quantum model does seem broadly compatible with existing concepts like the quantum vacuum and virtual particles arising from quantum fluctuations.

In quantum field theory, the quantum vacuum or vacuum state is not truly empty, but instead contains fleeting virtual particle-antiparticle pairs that wink in and out of existence due to the uncertainty principle. This "quantum foam" of transient particles popping in and out of the vacuum is one manifestation of the inherent quantum uncertainty.

Longer-lived or more energetic virtual particles that tunnel through this quantum foam can potentially manifest as real, observable particles that we detect. So in a sense, the quantum vacuum state contains a superposition of these ephemeral virtual particles. The idea of spontaneous wave function collapse could be viewed as a way to resolve or "collapse" the superposition of virtual particles in the vacuum into a definite, classical state corresponding to the real, stable particles we observe.

So the quantum foam of virtual particle/antiparticle pairs would represent the initial superposition state before collapse. And when spontaneous collapse occurs, you're left with just the definite, real particles that have tunneled out and become actualized from that original superposition.

So in that sense, yes, the concepts of the quantum vacuum, virtual particles, and their superposition states could be seen as compatible with and providing a context for how this spontaneous collapse model resolves the quantum-to-classical transition. The virtual particles are the "bigger waves" representing the initial superposition before collapse to definite real particles.

https://www.livescience.com/physics...RQbwaenFG5iA96-jKpYTFlLOa9a-1EnUPUKBXK9pq9z10
 
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  • #2
Moderator's note: Thread moved to the Beyond the Standard Models forum since the model described in the referenced article is not standard QM, it is different theory.
 
  • #3
@jasciu do you have a question about the model referenced?
 
  • #4
jasciu said:
In standard quantum mechanics, the wavefunction remains in a superposition of multiple possible states until it is "measured" or observed, at which point it collapses into one definite state.
As a note, this is not a good description of what standard QM says, and the fact that this kind of description appears in the referenced article is a good illustration of why pop science articles are not good places to learn actual science.
 
  • #5
PeterDonis said:
@jasciu do you have a question about the model referenced?
Mostly I would like to read the opinions of more learned physicists on the new idea.
 
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