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Suggestion: Sub-Forum for Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics

  1. Jan 29, 2008 #1
    Suggestion: Sub-Forum for "Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics"

    There are a very large number of posts in the Quantum Mechanics forum regarding interpretations (i.e. Copenhagen, Many-Worlds, Bohm, etc.), and I think a number of people interested in discussing interpretations of QM that are not necessarily mainstream. I feel that sometimes these discussions have gotten derailed by ardent supporters of Copenhagen without it being clear to the readers that those are just interpretative opinions like any other. Perhaps a dedicated sub-forum for Interpretations would permit people interested in that topic to focus their discussions better, and permit people who are not interested in interpretations to have a forum uncluttered by discussions that are irrelevant to them.
     
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  3. Jan 29, 2008 #2

    Ivan Seeking

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    Those subjects can be addressed in the Philosophy Forum [a subforum in General Discussion]. In fact I had hoped that this sort of thing would gain more of a foothold there than it has.
     
  4. Jan 29, 2008 #3
    Hm. A quick parusal of posts in the philosophy forum brings up topics such as "Absolute Morality" and "Are all humans of equal value?" That's not exactly the same thing as asking a question about Bohmian mechanics or the Afshar experiment.
     
  5. Jan 29, 2008 #4

    Moonbear

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    No it's not, but we promise we won't complain if you raise the bar of discussion in there!
     
  6. Jan 29, 2008 #5
    LOL. Ok I'll do my best.
     
  7. Jan 30, 2008 #6

    Danger

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    You're a Queen fan too?! Alright, bring on the sound bites...
     
  8. Jan 30, 2008 #7

    vanesch

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    I've been thinking about that too, but this is in fact difficult. The interpretations of quantum mechanics address a very large spectrum of intellectual activities, which go from purely technical into the highly philosophical. In as much as I sometimes feel a bit wary when I talk about things like "consciousness" in the quantum physics forums, I also feel a bit silly when writing out some mathematical technicalities in the philosophy forum. But moreover, a thread can evolve. Sometimes the OP isn't even aware that his at first technical question is in fact a matter of interpretation, or his interpretational issues are sometimes just a formal technicality. Sometimes, an initially purely technical issue evolves into interpretational matters, and vice versa. So one would have to move the thread regularly between the two forums then, and one would run into difficulties of application of forum rules doing so. Some threads go off indeed on a totally philosophical path, which in the end could be considered as purely philosophical discussions, just to come back to technical issues 10 posts later.

    Unfortunately, the main (even educational) difficulty with quantum theory is still the interpretational issues ("what does the wavefunction really physically mean ?" for instance, a very natural question for someone who is starting to learn the formalism of quantum theory).

    So it is not clear how to separate "interpretations/philosophy of quantum theory" from "quantum physics".
     
  9. Jan 30, 2008 #8
    Galileo!
     
  10. Jan 30, 2008 #9

    ZapperZ

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    But what you described here has nothing to do with the need to create another sub-forum. An issue involving a more technical discussion of QM fits perfectly well in the QM forum. It is when it degenerates into a more esoteric discussion of "consciousness" and "existence", etc. that isn't directly formulated in physics that it then belongs in the philosophy discussion.

    I judge each of these threads on a case-by-case basis. It is often impossible to know the direction of a thread based on the OP alone. How everyone reponds to the thread dictates where it is more suitable to be in. But still, this doesn't require the creation of a separate sub-forum just to cater such a discussion.

    Zz.
     
  11. Jan 30, 2008 #10
    I don't see many discussions like that. I see discussions such as "where is the photon before it's observed" and "why does a particle act like a wave" get responses from many people, including the "mentors," along the lines of "you shouldn't even ask that question." Frankly that's unfair because it assumes a fortiori that CI is correct and the OP, who might not realize that the question is a matter of interpretation and not accuracy, is left thinking that he's wrong.

    On the other hand, I fully appreciate that there are those on there who don't think such questions are meaningful and would rather we "shut up and calculate." Separating the interprative discussions from the more practical discussions would alleviate frustrations of both camps.
     
  12. Jan 30, 2008 #11

    ZapperZ

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    Of course you don't. Those threads have been moved OUT of the QM forum!

    Zz.
     
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