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Wavefunction collaps past/future effect

  1. Nov 8, 2011 #1
    Wavefunction "collaps" past/future effect

    A newb writes,

    Do wavefunctions really "collapse?" It seems like this implies that they are destroyed and then recreated. Would it be more accurate to consider them like a guitar string and that observing it is like hitting the harmonic?

    I guess another way to put this question would be to ask, Does a wavefunction's past effect its future once a certain observation has made it "collapse" and "reform"?

    Wave Function

    _______wave's past_________observation___Future
    .-------------^------------------. V .--------^-------.
    Neck_______________________The harmonic
    Guitar String
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 22, 2015 #2
    My poiny of view:
    1. QM equations give us the probabilities about something. And are the best ones that we have to describe that ultra-micro world.
    2. "observations" give us measures about what happen.
    3. Between two measures we simple doesn't know how the ultra-micro world is or behave.
    To now more, you can see the following thread:
    Can future events affect the past?
  4. Jul 22, 2015 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    In the standard interpretation, wave function "really" do collapse, but we don't know whether the wave function is real, so we don't know whether the wave function really collapses.

    It is often said that the collapse is just analogous to the transition from uncertainty to certainty when one throws a die and gets a result. However, this is difficult to make precise in the standard interpretation, because quantum uncertainty without hidden variables is not uncertainty about reality, since the wave function is not necessarily real.

    However, in some cases, eg. non-relativistic quantum mechanics, we can imagine that there are hidden variables. In this case, quantum mechanics is very much like a classical theory, just a bit unusual in its nonlocality. In this case, one can derive the wave function collapse as an effective approximation to a reality in which there is no wave function collapse. Bohmian Mechanics is an example of this sort of hidden variable theory. At present we don't know if it can be extended to cover all relativistic quantum phenomena.

    Another sort of hidden variable theory postulates that the collapse is real. Example of this sort of hidden variable theory are the GRW and continuous spontaneous localization (CSL) theories.

    At present, we have no experimental evidence favouring any of the hidden variable theories.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2015
  5. Jul 22, 2015 #4


    Staff: Mentor

    In interpretations that have collapse - yes. But not all interpretations do. The formalism that all interpretations use doesn't have it.

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