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Question about Copenhagen's interpretation

  1. Dec 5, 2007 #1
    I am doing research for a web based science-fiction / physics-fiction novel I am working on. Would anyone here know much about Copenhagen's interpretation and if I am correct or false in assuming the following:

    The interpretation states that matter can be in a superposition of forms until observed and until it is observed it has not yet decided the state it will be in. If I am correct it never defines what an "observation" is and who or what could actually do the "observing". Thus if an entity could in fact make an "observation" and do it in such a way that the matter in question changes to the state they desire, this entity, in essence, would control reality. The constant and willful changing by these entities would cause a paradox in the form of multiple states of reality (based on the flawed logic of this interpretation -- ala Schrödinger's cat).

    If this sort of makes sense let me know.. I enjoy creating fiction, but believability breeds readability in my opinion. I do not have a physics background so excuse me and do tell if what I wrote is complete and utter nonsense.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 24, 2007 #2


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    The one line answer is, a device like that is impossible, but just fine for fiction.

    For the purposes of science fiction, the science of things really isn't that important - so you're fine using something like this. The existence of such a device is impossible in the same theories that also allow for supposition of states. (Basically, what you're describing would be something very similar to Douglas Adam's infinite improbability drive.) Even a single device like this could lead to faster-than-light travel, broken causality (like people killing their own parents before birth) and all kinds of other messy stuff.

    I should point out that things which are called 'Interpretations' in the context of quantum mechanics basically refer to things that are not testable. There is no way to experimentally distinguish the Copenhagen Interpretation (many states before the observation) from the Many Worlds Interpretation (many states after the observation) from Bohmian Interpretation (faster than light interaction) from the Von Neuman / Plug and Grind interpretation (don't ask me, I just work the numbers). That is to say - this is really philosophy or religion rather than science.

    The notion of 'waveform collapse' (things going one way or another at observation) is, at this point, an artifact of interpretation and not a physical phenomenon. Basically, 'waveform collapse' is the transition between the quantum universe (where observations affect things) to the non-quantum universe (where observations don't affect things).
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