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New Law of Physics Could Explain Quantum Mysteries

Tim Palmer, a weather and climate researcher at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts in Reading, UK, has been interested in the idea of a new geometric framework for quantum theory for a long time. Palmer’s doctoral thesis was in general relativity theory at Oxford University in the late 1970s. His studies convinced him that a successful quantum theory of gravity requires some geometric generalization of quantum theory, but at the time he was unsure what specific form this generalization should take. Over the years, Palmer’s professional research moved away from this area of theoretical physics, and he is now one of the world’s experts on the predictability of climate, a subject which has considerable input from nonlinear dynamical systems theory. In a return to his original quest for a realistic geometric quantum theory, Palmer has applied geometric thinking inspired by such dynamical systems theory to propose the new law, called the Invariant Set Postulate, described in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

As Palmer explained to PhysOrg.com, the Invariant Set Postulate is proposed as a new geometric framework for understanding the basic foundations of quantum physics. "Crucially, the framework allows a differentiation between states of physical reality and physical 'unreality,'" he said.

The theory suggests the existence of a state space (the set of all possible states of the universe), within which a smaller (fractal) subset of state space is embedded. This subset is dynamically invariant in the sense that states which belong on this subset will always belong to it, and have always belonged to it. States of physical reality are those, and only those, which belong to this invariant subset of state space; all other points in state space are considered “unreal.” Such points of unreality might correspond to states of the universe in which counterfactual measurements are performed in order to answer questions such as “what would the spin of the electron have been, had my measuring apparatus been oriented this way, instead of that way?” Because of the Invariant Set Postulate, such questions have no definite answer, consistent with the earlier and rather mysterious notion of “complementarity” introduced by Niels Bohr.

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# New Law of Physics Could Explain Quantum Mysteries

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