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Quantum mechanics emerging from vibrating fluid

  1. Sep 23, 2015 #1
    I've just recently learned about Yves Clouder's hydrodynamics models that show quantum mechanics behaviour emerging from a vibrating fluid. As a "born-again student", this seems very exciting to me - especially in the sense that at the very least it offers a mental model that helps come to grips with the weirdness of quantum mechanics.

    AND, on a deeper level, what if this really is giving us a hint that there is a fundamental mechanism underlying quantum behaviour? How cool would that be?? :)

    Can someone point me in the direction of interesting work that is being spawned from this? I've done some basic googling and turned up John Bush's experiments at MIT and some papers by Brady and Anderson. Also, I'd be interested to hear if people are skeptical of the value of looking in this direction? Seems exciting to me but I still have a great deal to learn.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 23, 2015 #2
    The August 2015 Issue of "Physics Today" has a good article called "The new wave of pilot-wave theory" written by John W. M. Bush.

    I think the pilot-wave theory is a viable theory that should be perused. Just keep in mind that it not the main stream view of quantum mechanics.
  4. Sep 23, 2015 #3
  5. Sep 23, 2015 #4
    Ah thanks for this!

    Incidentally, this vibrating fluid seems to offer an 2D analogy for quantum mechanics that is reminiscent of how the balls-on-a-rubber-sheet analogy helps people to conceptually understand 2D GR.
  6. Sep 23, 2015 #5
    If you read the posts in the thread I linked, you will find a number of points why these experiments aren't exactly like QM and as an aside a recent paper was published by another team questioning some of Couder's conclusions:
    Double-slit experiment with single wave-driven particles and its relation to quantum mechanics
    http://www.fysik.dtu.dk/english/Research/Highlight/150827-Double-slit-experiment [Broken]

    It's worth reading the whole paper if you have access.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  7. Sep 23, 2015 #6


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    I'd say "visualize" instead of "conceptually understand", but with that qualification it is indeed a useful analogy (in fact, it's a better analogy for QM than the rubber sheet model is for GR) because it shows the remarkable variety of phenomena that emerge from the wave equation in any medium.

    It only becomes problematic when people forget that it is analogy, that it illustrates only certain aspects of thing being analogized, and at some point will have to be replaced with study of the real thing.
  8. Sep 23, 2015 #7


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    This is basically hype.

    (1) The pilot wave theory needs no help* from the work you mentioned. It is already accepted as a correct possibility in for non-relativistic quantum mechanics, and for some forms of relativistic quantum mechanics. Open problems are extending it to all relativistic quantum mechanics, as well as possible deviations from quantum mechanics if the pilot wave theory is right. For the latter you can look up Antony Valentini's work.

    (2) The fluid experiments only deal with a single particle. At present they do not extend to quantum mechanics with two particles. In contrast, the pilot wave theory does extend to any fixed number of particles in non-relativistic quantum mechanics. It is important to note that currently most people do not consider single particle quantum mechanics to be mysterious in any way. It is with two particles that one can get the famous "spooky action at a distance", which did teach us that relativity is not necessarily a theory of causality, as it is presented classically.

    *The phrase "needs no help" comes from Tim Maudlin's critique in the comments of https://www.quantamagazine.org/20140624-fluid-tests-hint-at-concrete-quantum-reality/ (the article itself is misleading, just focus on Maudlin's comments). Maudlin's critique was pointed out to me by bohm2 in another thread on this forum.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2015
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