Saturday, November 19, 2011

Reality of the quantum wave function

The current Nature issue reports:
At the heart of the weirdness for which the field of quantum mechanics is famous is the wavefunction, a powerful but mysterious entity that is used to determine the probabilities that quantum particles will have certain properties. Now, a preprint posted online on 14 November1 reopens the question of what the wavefunction represents — with an answer that could rock quantum theory to its core. Whereas many physicists have generally interpreted the wavefunction as a statistical tool that reflects our ignorance of the particles being measured, the authors of the latest paper argue that, instead, it is physically real.

“I don't like to sound hyperbolic, but I think the word 'seismic' is likely to apply to this paper,” says Antony Valentini, a theoretical physicist specializing in quantum foundations at Clemson University in South Carolina.

Valentini believes that this result may be the most important general theorem relating to the foundations of quantum mechanics since Bell’s theorem, the 1964 result in which Northern Irish physicist John Stewart Bell proved that if quantum mechanics describes real entities, it has to include mysterious “action at a distance”.
Seems doubtful to me. Lubos Motl debunks it.

The same Nature reporter claims that Neutrino Experiment Replicates Faster-Than-Light Finding. But she is misleading. It is just a slight refinement of the original experiment, and nothing was replicated.

This week PBS TV broadcast Brian Greene's The Fabric of the Cosmos: Quantum Leap. This was an explanation of quantum mechanics, but I found it disappointing.

I thought that it misrepresented the Bohr–Einstein debates, and implied that they were resolved by the Bell test experiments. It ended with goofy speculation about quantum teleportation, quantum computing, and the many-world interpretations of quantum mechanics.

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