String theory and foundations of quantum mechanics

In summary, Harvey Smolin believes that quantum mechanics might be an approximation to a more fundamental theory, and that his proposal, which uses creation and annihilation operators from a Bohmian perspective, is the best so far.
  • #1

Demystifier

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String theory is supposed to be a theory of "everything".
In your opinion, should string theory, or some other "theory of everything", solve the problem of measurement in quantum mechanics and other related foundational problems of quantum mechanics?

Anyway, for my contributions to that issue see
http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0512186
http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0605250
 
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  • #2
  • #3
Hrvoje (or "Harvey"), here is another recent paper about foundations of QM:

http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0609109
Could quantum mechanics be an approximation to another theory?
Lee Smolin
10 pages, no figures

"We consider the hypothesis that quantum mechanics is an approximation to another, cosmological theory, accurate only for the description of subsystems of the universe. Quantum theory is then to be derived from the cosmological theory by averaging over variables which are not internal to the subsystem, which may be considered non-local hidden variables. We find conditions for arriving at quantum mechanics through such a procedure..."

===sample quote===
...evidence that quantum mechanics is an approximation to
a deeper theory. Among the reasons for this belief are;

• The unresolved difficulties in extending quantum
theory to cosmology. If this cannot be done then
one possible explanation is that quantum mechanics
does not in fact extend to the whole universe.
It must then be an approximation to a more fundamental
cosmological theory, which applies only
for small subsystems of the universe.

• The difficulties in solving the measurement problem
in the context of a theory with a realistic ontology.

• The success of quantum information theory,which
reinforces the viewpoint that the quantum state
represents the information that observers have of
a system.

• The experimental evidence against the Bell inequalities
tells us that any theory quantum mechanics
is derived from must be non-local. It is
then natural to hypothesize that this non-local theory
is a cosmological theory, which is more adequate
than quantum mechanics for the investigation
of cosmological problems.

===endquote===
 
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  • #4
I would like to see an expanded version of what one gets when one looks at creation and annihilation operators from a Bohmian perspective.
 
  • #5
marcus said:
Hrvoje (or "Harvey"), here is another recent paper about foundations of QM:

http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0609109
Could quantum mechanics be an approximation to another theory?
Lee Smolin
10 pages, no figures

"We consider the hypothesis that quantum mechanics is an approximation to another, cosmological theory, accurate only for the description of subsystems of the universe. Quantum theory is then to be derived from the cosmological theory by averaging over variables which are not internal to the subsystem, which may be considered non-local hidden variables. We find conditions for arriving at quantum mechanics through such a procedure..."

===sample quote===
...evidence that quantum mechanics is an approximation to
a deeper theory. Among the reasons for this belief are;

• The unresolved difficulties in extending quantum
theory to cosmology. If this cannot be done then
one possible explanation is that quantum mechanics
does not in fact extend to the whole universe.
It must then be an approximation to a more fundamental
cosmological theory, which applies only
for small subsystems of the universe.

• The difficulties in solving the measurement problem
in the context of a theory with a realistic ontology.

• The success of quantum information theory,which
reinforces the viewpoint that the quantum state
represents the information that observers have of
a system.

• The experimental evidence against the Bell inequalities
tells us that any theory quantum mechanics
is derived from must be non-local. It is
then natural to hypothesize that this non-local theory
is a cosmological theory, which is more adequate
than quantum mechanics for the investigation
of cosmological problems.

===endquote===
I'm wondering if all these quantum effects might be due to information inside a sphere being limited to the surface entropy of a black hole of that size. Some have suggested that the surface entropy of black holes can be generalized to any spherical region, the entropy can't be any more than if the region were a black hole, right?
 
  • #6
Marcus, my name is not pronounced as "Harwey".
But you can call me Hrvoje if you like.

I know about the paper of Smolin you mentioned. In fact, I had a brief discussion on that paper with him. I particulary like his solution of the problem of single-valuedness of wave functions.
 
  • #7
  • #8
Hrvoje,

Regarding the fermions in the Dirac equation in:
http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/quant-ph/0302152

Interesting that you split the particles from the antiparticles. This is the way I think it should be done as well. And the operator:

[tex]\Omega^{(P)}(x,x') = \sum_k u_k(x)u_k^\dag (x')[/tex]

reminds me of the density operator way of rewriting the Dirac equation. I'm slowly typing up a density operator formalism for the standard model, the results so far are here:
http://www.brannenworks.com/dmaa.pdf

I have to do the same thing, but it is by a sleight of hand that the reader is not intended to notice. In my way of looking at it, the Dirac equation works because it is the simplest equation you can write in a Clifford algebra. But when using it for the electron, you get the positron, an embarassment. The massless Dirac equation works better as a start for a preon description of the elementary fermions.

In particular, although our extension does not attribute a particle trajectory to the vacuum, the standard measurable effects of the vacuum are not denied by our extension. ... So far, we have not introduced any causal interpretation of the fermionic fields [tex]\psi[/tex] or [tex]\eta[/tex]. Actually, these two quantities are not observables, so there is no need for a causal interpretation of them.

Yes! Yes! Here, take a look at the presentation I gave at the DPJ2006 meeting a few days ago. After the details of the arithmetic in the first few slides, the above points, that the vacuum is not needed and that the creation and annihilation operators do not make sense when examined alone, are the subject:
http://www.phys.hawaii.edu/indico/contributionDisplay.py?contribId=114&sessionId=116&confId=3

It gives me great pleasure to see these connections between Bohmian mechanics and density operators. What I am doing in quantum spaces of finite dimension (i.e. internal states), you are doing with Bohmian mechanics for position and momentum.

Carl

Also, I love your elegant and correct use of English. It could not have been easy.
 
  • #9
Hi Demystifier and everybody,

I'm no physicist but I share the same basic question as your original post:
If we will ever have a TOE, one of the things we surely expect from it is that it will resolve (interpreet) all the weird Quantum puzzles.

So far for what I have read about Superstring theory or LQG, they seem to be rather quests at finding mathematically valid relationships of the known phenomena, without caring so much about if they actually reflect any realistic physical facts or not.
Surely the concept of "cosmic music" in Superstrings is appealing as physical principle, but there are still so many gaps that many wonder if it's just a beautiful mathematical construction without any physical relevance at all.
After all, in many cases it's possible to find different mathematical constructions that lead to the same final result. Which is the right one?

Wouldn't it be possible to find some (or more than one) mathematical representation of ANY phenomena ? (except for the truly random ones).
Many believe that the mathematical realm is far more extensive than the physical realm, that "reality" is a sub-set of all the possible mathematically consistent scenarios.

I read your papers but I don't have enough technical background to grasp the basic final conclusions (e.g. you advance in the introduction your proposal for interpreting how does string theory resolve the measurement problem, but I don't see such explanation in plain words).

Would you please (and/or anybody else) give in layman terms your words on what do Superstring theory / LQG have to say about the typical quantum puzzles:

- measurement problem (role of consciousness / observer)
- non-locality
- the double-slit experiments
- the "retarded choice" experiments
- the quantum zeno effect
- multiverse yes or no?
- decoherence
...

Do we agree that anybody who is enthusiastic about a TOE must address these issues?
Even if not resolved at the present moment, do Superstring / LQG enthusiasts believe that their theories will eventually provide the answers?

I saw that similar fragmented questions appear in scattered posts, but I like to take this one to summarize these issues.

Thanks !
 
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  • #10
Gerinski said:
Would you please (and/or anybody else) give in layman terms your words on what do Superstring theory / LQG have to say about the typical quantum puzzles:

- measurement problem (role of consciousness / observer)
- non-locality
- the double-slit experiments
- the "retarded choice" experiments
- the quantum zeno effect
- multiverse yes or no?
- decoherence
...

Nada, as I think you intended to bring out. However some of the alternative QG models, like CDT and Group Field theory, do address the roots of quantization, and presumably have some input on those questions. Please note that some of your questions, like delayed choice, have reasonable explanations within the existing family of interpretation of standard (non-Bohm) QM.
 
  • #11
selfAdjoint said:
Nada, as I think you intended to bring out. However some of the alternative QG models, like CDT and Group Field theory, do address the roots of quantization, and presumably have some input on those questions.
Huh ?? :uhh: Where did you get that idea ?
 
  • #12
I have to agree with Careful here. CDT and GFT are not fundamental theories.
 
  • #13
selfAdjoint said:
Please note that some of your questions, like delayed choice, have reasonable explanations within the existing family of interpretation of standard (non-Bohm) QM.
I fully agree with you selfAdjoint. What the Bohmian interpretation solves is the problem of measurement, other problems on the list are not really problems in the conventional interpretation of quantum mechanics.

To answer to Gerinski, my point is the following. I derive (not simply postulate) the Bohmian equation of motion from the assumption that particles are not really pointlike, but extended as in string theory. How do I do that? In the Schrodinger picture the string coordinate depends on the parameter along the string (sigma) but not on time (tau). But this is not world-sheet covariant, in a covariant approach sigma and tau should have equal roles. To restore covariance in the Schrodinger picture, it turns out that the string coordinate has to have a dependence on tau exactly as in the Bohmian interpretation. This, of course, is a nontechnical explanation of my result, presented in a way that even non-physicists can understand it. The technical presentation is in the first paper above. In the second paper I explain how the Bohmian interpretation reinterprets T-duality of string theory.
 
  • #14
Demystifier, that is actually a cogent explanation! (Translation: on my wavelength:redface: ). I will take a look at the paper, no guarantees.

I have been reading your http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0601027". Toward the end of it you say

Here, the Bohmian interpretation
is not postulated, but derived from the requirement of covariance.

Well, no. It is derived from your desire to have a covariant particle description which is not the same thing.

But what if the particles we see are not a covariant phenomenon? Consider the Unruh effect; scalar field plus acceleration equals particle spectrum, and from underlying particle spectrum plus Nelson, we get quantum mechanics of particles. What if all the particles the experimentalists see in their experiments are just contingent effects of the enormous accelerations involved when the beam hits the target? Can we rule this out?
 
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  • #15
SelfAdjoint, you are right that we cannot rule this out. But I hope that you will agree that my desire to have a covariant particle description is not unreasonable.

In the case of strings, I similarly require to have a covariant string description. Such a requirement seems even more reasonable because there are indications that string field theory may NOT be the correct way to treat strings. (See e.g. Sec. 4.2 in http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th?papernum=9411028 )
 

1. What is string theory and how does it relate to quantum mechanics?

String theory is a theoretical framework that attempts to unify all the fundamental forces of nature, including gravity, into one coherent theory. It proposes that the fundamental building blocks of the universe are not particles, but instead tiny vibrating strings. This theory also incorporates the principles of quantum mechanics, which is the study of the behavior of matter and energy on a very small scale.

2. What are the main differences between classical physics and quantum mechanics?

Classical physics is based on the laws of motion and gravity as described by Sir Isaac Newton. It describes the behavior of macroscopic objects, such as planets and cars. On the other hand, quantum mechanics is a more accurate description of the behavior of particles at a subatomic level. It introduces concepts such as wave-particle duality and uncertainty, which are not present in classical physics.

3. What are the fundamental principles of quantum mechanics?

The fundamental principles of quantum mechanics include wave-particle duality, uncertainty principle, superposition, and entanglement. These principles explain the behavior of particles at a subatomic level and form the basis of many modern technologies, such as transistors and lasers.

4. What is the role of string theory in understanding the foundations of quantum mechanics?

String theory is one of the leading theories attempting to unify the principles of quantum mechanics with those of general relativity. It provides a framework for understanding the fundamental nature of particles and their interactions, which is crucial in furthering our understanding of the foundations of quantum mechanics.

5. How has string theory changed our understanding of the universe?

String theory has revolutionized our understanding of the universe by proposing a unified theory that could potentially explain all the fundamental forces of nature. It has also led to new insights and developments in areas such as cosmology, black holes, and particle physics. However, string theory is still a highly debated and unproven theory, and its implications on our understanding of the universe are still being explored.

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