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Quantum Interpretations history

  1. Many worlds interpretation

    13 vote(s)
    27.7%
  2. Copenhagen interpretation

    8 vote(s)
    17.0%
  3. Hidden variables

    6 vote(s)
    12.8%
  4. Transactional interpretation

    2 vote(s)
    4.3%
  5. Another one

    8 vote(s)
    17.0%
  6. Haven't made up my mind / I don't think quantum formalism is correct/final

    10 vote(s)
    21.3%
  1. Jan 30, 2008 #1
    With all the different quantum interpretations out there, which is your favourite or "most likely to be true" ?

    I have a real hard time making up my mind about these things, it all reminds me of different religions trying to prove the unproveable.
    EVERYONE is disagreeing, new evidence get thrown in the bin if it doesn't agree with the different phycisists pet theory.
    Whate ver happened to simple science people agree'd on.
    What I don't get is that quantum mechanics are dealing with the smallest things in the universe yet people seem to think it is arguing for other universes or that we are gods creating the world or that time goes back n foth.

    Certaintly set your mind spinning, what is the future of quantum mechanics really?
    They'll never agree, even if you disproved a interpretation and showed it was inconsistent with the quantum formalism people would still be on it like crazy.


    Any thought or am I the only one bothered with the state of science these days?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 31, 2008 #2

    vanesch

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    I think you miss the purpose of an interpretation. It is not about what is "true" but about what gives you the "best picture" to help you understand a formalism. At least, for me. It is a matter of "look at it this way, then you understand how it works".
    Like interpreting the real numbers as "a point on a line in space", or to interpret historical times "on a time axis".
     
  4. Jan 31, 2008 #3

    Fra

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    I think the quest for unifying gravity with quantum mechanics, understanding the coupling between different complexity scales, and whatever comes out of it are quite likely to changed the preferred interpretation.

    I am of the opinion that QG are likely to tweak the foundations of quantum mechanics, and the way we think of it. I don't think it's worth ripping off all your hair over how to make sense over the current state of normal QM. I've ripped off some and concluded that there is something wrong, but I think future development of physics should resolve that.

    The main point IMO, is the ambigous usage of statistics and probability on "imagined" ensembles, that can not always be realized in a sensible way. These things become more significant conceptually in gravity, because statistics on particles is one thing, but if we are talking about statistics on spacetime geometries one really has to ask what this supposedly means in terms of observables, as opposed to in the world of crazy mathematics where you clearly can do anything you want :) IMO, one can not simply get away with applying the simplistic QM to such stuff, without thourough motivation.

    /Fredrik
     
  5. Jan 31, 2008 #4
    I see so its a religious/philosophical thing?
    Its just ur personal belief based on nothing but wishful thinking?
    I think Im starting to see why they say "interpretations is NON science".

    Why even take a stand when you say "its not about whats true".

    Would you keep ur belief in the interpretations even if they were inconsitant with the quantum formalism like MWI and CI is? cause then things start to be clearer to me:P
     
  6. Jan 31, 2008 #5

    Demystifier

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  7. Jan 31, 2008 #6

    Fra

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    I personally think it's a simplification to decompose this into hard good science and philosophical crap. What is science anyway?

    I think it's better to speak of subjective and objective views, and by common sense the objective view is formed by the collectively most commonly agreed upon subjective view, ie. when several subjective views agree - then that's a good sign. Typically science is supposedly objective, and whatever the scientific collective manages to agree upon is usually considered correct, or at least "the best guess", the measure of right in science is that other people can arrive at the same results. Sure everybody could be wrong, but it seems far more a priori plausible to think that the minority deviate results are more likely to be wrong and the majority right. But I think this is even part of the issue, and the scientific method, and there is a grey area where this measure is not so distingusihed.

    This even connects to the idea of objective vs relative realism. And as to wether it makes sense for a admittedly strongly constrained obsever to "imagine" a background realism, that has a justification beyond his subjective view? He can certainly conclude wether his fellow neihgbours interacting with him seems to agree, and he may ahve not choice but to adjust his views to survive in that environment, but the basic question remains.

    These types of somewhat philosophical questions can at least in my distored personal view not be disregarded as irrelevant when trying to understand QM and GR. Philosophy and science has as far as I know often evolved together.

    I think that as long as one keeps a reasonably intellectual level on the philosophical thinking, it belongs to the scientific reasoning, since science isn't just about "book keeping of truths" it's IMO equally about asking new questions, and trying to find ways to answer them. The falsification, is probably the simplest part of all. But who comes up with the theories that is to be falsified? And who selects the theories to be tried first, we should try the most promising ones first right? How is this determined?

    /Fredrik
     
  8. Jan 31, 2008 #7
    Sorry for not seeing the other similar poll.

    I aree Fra, but why would ANYONE chose MWI/CI , if MWI is true, your living in a solipsistic state, NOONE ever sees you(if they split constantly every atto second and visual input takes 0,1second, means you are NEVEr seen, you NEVER communicate with anyone(same reason) and suicide seems to be the only way to escape the upgrades hell the universe would be if MWI were true...
    Same with CI, then noone exist unless u observe them(solipsism). Evolution neverh appened cause there was no conscious observers of it happening...
     
  9. Jan 31, 2008 #8

    Fra

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    I'm not sure I follow or share the logic of your conclusions from mwi and ci, but to comment one thing:

    That I don't know something, and that this something does not exists, sure isn't the same thing to me. Why would even think of the idea that I should, or rather COULD know everything? THAT makes no sense to me. It is counterintuitive too. I have never encountered the experience that I know everything. Not once. On the contrary, I constantly learn new things. So any strategy of mine that is building on the idea that things that I don't know doesn't exists, are highly likely to fail IMO.

    The second question is, how the measure of existence is to be established in such a case? In my thinking, an analysis of these things shows that the questions posed may be poorly chosen which alone explains a great deal of the paradoxal conclusions.

    I guess what I said is that one can talk about the interpretations either constructively as in trying to further develop the theory, or just think that the current theory is prefect, and just debate how to "interpret" it. I guess some people thing QM is prefect, and then the basis for the view is different.

    I don't think QM is prefect, and thus my attention is not on trying to make sense out of something I think is flawed, but rather to try to understand how the missing bits can be fitted so that it does make sense.

    Perhaps all these interpretational issues are on the table just due to this. When we understand QM better, I think the motivation for discussing interpretations will get a natural resolution.

    But this is just my personal view :)

    /Fredrik
     
  10. Jan 31, 2008 #9

    Mentz114

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    How to confuse a shell

    I can see this is bothering you, but don't worry, it doesn't mean anything in practical terms. The thing we call quantum theory is a mathematical model expressed in purely conceptual terms. It goes against our intuition and seems to have 'mysterious' elements which don't correspond to everyday reality. My own experience is not unusual. As soon as I understood the 'standard' QM ( Dirac, 'Principles of QM' ) I realised that superposed states were crazy, and no such such thing could actually exist ( I was young). So I took up the deBB 'causal' model. That requires a very strange non-local field that doesn't react in the classical way with the particles. Hmm. The point is that all the interpretations require the acceptance of at least one weird thing. Choosing an interpretation is a purely personal thing - and makes no difference whatever to practitioners ( well, hardly any ).

    In a room full of particle physicists, some will espouse an interpretation, probably most don't care. When they talk to each other it's about Hamiltonians, scattering amplitudes and suchlike.

    Interpretations can lead to lively discussions, but should probably be in the philosophy section.

    Fra:
    Yes, nicely put. Prefect, as you'd say.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2008
  11. Jan 31, 2008 #10

    vanesch

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    We had these discussions already, but for sure nor MWI nor CI would imply anything you say. But, as others point out to you, you seem to be missing the point of what an interpretation is all about. Nobody can claim that we already have the "final theory of everything", and - although this is more discussable - nobody can claim that this theory - in as much as it exists and will be found one day - is going to be a strict quantum theory as we know it today.

    As such, an *interpretation* of quantum theory is a MENTAL GAME, in which you invent a TOY WORLD in your imagination in which quantum theory is STRICTLY TRUE. You start with "let us imagine a world in which blah blah blah...". As such, you can, if you like, PICTURE with your mind's eye, a bit better how things "behave according to quantum mechanics", that is, in a toy world where you assume the rules to be strictly true.

    This is a bit like when you play a video game, where, in your imagination, you picture the "world" of that game in your mind, just to be able to understand better how the game works (and how to win).

    Now, there is a caveat: although we cannot claim that the final theory - if it exists - is a strict quantum theory, it might also be the case that it is! In that case, our toy world is a possible description of the real world (if it exists). Of our video game, we're pretty sure that it is NOT existing in the real world (although...).

    But for the moment, we are just having PARTIAL theories, each with their own paradigm. And quantum theory is one such paradigm. Interpreting it can hence do nothing else but just giving it a TOY world.

    So is this useless ? As a "world view", yes. As a way of understanding, getting a feeling of, quantum theory, I'd say no !
     
  12. Jan 31, 2008 #11

    jtbell

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    This process is more explicit in the ancient text-only computer games such as the "Colossal Cave Adventure," which contain no images whatsoever, and it's up to the player to construct his/her own mental map of the cave and its inhabitants.
     
  13. Jan 31, 2008 #12

    jtbell

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    Keep in mind that the current theory (in whatever interpretation) works very well for predicting the results of experiments. There have been many experiments that test fundamental aspects of QM, and they are still on-going (e.g. Aspect and Zeilinger). Any new theory that admits a more "plausible" interpretation has to agree with all those experiments. That doesn't mean that such a theory doesn't exist, of course, but searching for one is a highly speculative process at present. It would be easier if there were some experimental results that contradict QM, to point the way. That's why people do these experiments... anyone who actually discovers something like that is a shoo-in for a Nobel Prize!
     
  14. Jan 31, 2008 #13
    I voted "another one". I prefer "relational interpretation".
     
  15. Jan 31, 2008 #14

    Fra

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    I agree. Certainly no serious suggestion would try to contradict the large body of phenomenology that we have massive evidence for - that in itself would of course be highly implausible :) That not anything near what I am after, neither am I looking to restore classical realism.

    Even if some of the QM formalisms is replaced by something better, one certainly need to explain why the current formalism is so good effectively speaking, and there are some ideas how this can be so, how symmetries are emergent from a more dynamical formalism which greater unification, so that the standard QM formalism emerges as an effective description in certain special domains, but where the larger formalisms explaines how this emergent formalism is deformed into something completely different in other domains.

    /Fredrik
     
  16. Jan 31, 2008 #15
    Interpretations are more than "just" interpretations: they have consequences for future research. I've read from proponents of both Bohm's interpretation as well as of MWI, that a future development of their theories will lead to additional predictions which will be verifiable.

    This is also clear for computer games such as the "Colossal Cave Adventure", where a different mental map will easily make you look in different directions for different solutions.

    Interpreting entanglement as 'non-local' may result in more research for, perhaps, other non-local features (such as perhaps tunneling), it may lead to questioning whether (also) relativity theory is incomplete, rather than (just) quantum theory.

    Interpreting entanglement as 'local' a la MWI may lead to research for possibilities of storing large amounts of information in a single particle via entanglement.

    Either, both or none of those may be fruitful, somewhat independently of the actual 'correctness' of the corresponding interpretation.

    Also different ethical consequences may be possible. If one is convinced, that certain quantum events will create "more" worlds than others, one might find a moral obligation to create more worlds. If one has the idea that some quantum events might have the opposite effect, one might want to avoid them.

    The always intensely debated topic of determinism has strong philosophical implications, and is often connected with different ethical, political and/or religious outlooks. One interpretation may look more deterministic than another one.

    Furthermore, these interpretations may have implications for our understanding of consciousness, and future research in that direction.

    In the absence of an obvious direction for future research in terms of basic theories, interpretations are perhaps the most important guideline in terms of looking for new basic "features" of the universe.
     
  17. Jan 31, 2008 #16

    vanesch

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    I'm somehow very wary of using interpretations to further research on fundamentals. No interpretation of Newtonian physics could suggest relativity, and no interpretation of it could suggest quantum theory. In other words, interpretations that have some meaning are deeply rooted in the fundamental principles of a theory. So any radical deviation from those fundamental principles will normally not be suggested by a good interpretation!

    However, and that's probably where your examples are pertinent, different interpretations of a SAME theory might illustrate/suggest more conveniently certain areas of *application* of said theory.

    This is where interpretations have btw IMO their main role: give you some *feeling* for the workings of a given theory, so that you can devellop some INTUITION for it, and hence some creativity. The suggestiveness and hints for creative work might indeed depend on the view you adhere. So it can even be interesting to switch interpretations sometimes, just to get a fresh view on things.

    Personally, I think this is erroneous thinking, and one of the roads without issue in which certain interpretations can guide people! Hence the many (erroneous) proposals to make an FTL telephone using entanglement... although it can clearly be shown that this is, within QM, as impossible as making a perpetuum mobile is in thermodynamics.

    Indeed, this is probably why people working on quantum computing often prefer MWI, because they can see it as "parallel working of classical machines".

    This would be one of the most stupid uses of an interpretation ! Interpretations of a formalism don't serve to deal with ethical questions !!

    I think that this would be completely silly ! Again, interpretations of quantum theory as we have it today shouldn't have any more implications for human society as Pascal's determinism. This is using concepts totally out of context. It is as if we were going to use Goedel's theorem in court, just to show that no logical system is complete, and hence that it could be that the case at hand is not determined by law :smile:
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2008
  18. Jan 31, 2008 #17

    vanesch

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    I've always seen the relational interpretation as a flavor of MWI, without explicitly saying that there are many worlds (because you stick to your own one)..., that is, without considering a "god's eye" objective viewpoint.
     
  19. Jan 31, 2008 #18
    Vanesch so your saying in MWI people don't split?
    Cause if they do, think of it this way; the persons ur speaking to are reallly 1000000000 different ones every minute you speak.
    So if you believe this is reality, wow, i thought the imaginated "hell" would be lame, but if MWI was true, wow everyone would comit suicide:P
     
  20. Jan 31, 2008 #19
    It seems to me whether something gets labeled as a "theory" or "interpretation" depends upon what those in charge decide to label it. Many-worlds "interpretation" is not really an interpretation because it makes predictions inconsistent with Copenhagen; we just don't yet know how to test them. But whether or not unobserved eigenstates continue to exist is very much a "real" question with a yes or no answer.

    Personally I think desperately cleaving to Copenhagen is just an easy way of avoiding difficult questions. Just because you don't know the answer to the question doesn't mean it's not worth asking.
     
  21. Jan 31, 2008 #20

    vanesch

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    I wonder what you are referring to. Normally, MWI makes the same observational predictions as CI... Both use the Born rule as the ultimate statistical prediction of repeated results when the measurements are irreversibly decohered (MWI) or when "transition to classical" is completed (CI).
     
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