Saturday, May 19, 2012

Quantum guru shuts down comments

MIT quantum computing guru Scott Aaronson now says:
I’ve further decided to impose a moratorium, on this blog, on all discussions about the validity of quantum mechanics in the microscopic realm, the reality of quantum entanglement, or the correctness of theorems such as Bell’s Theorem.
Furthermore, he has blocked my comment from a week before his moratorium:
Wow, this is getting nasty, as you try to start a boycott of FQXi. Why stop there? Let me remind you that MIT has a professor named Noam Chomsky who has endorsed X who politically supports Y. You can fill in the blanks. Therefore I am refusing any offer of an MIT professorship and urging all others to do the same, until MIT stops lending its legitimacy to Chomsky. I haven’t been getting any money from MIT anyway, but maybe communication about this issue with the MIT leadership will give hope that we’ll be able to resolve it to all sane parties’ satisfaction.

Just this week, Nature Physics published a paper that was submitted under the nonsensical title, “The quantum state cannot be interpreted statistically?” That title led me to believe that the authors had some mathematical misunderstanding of some trivial concept. Fortunately the editors required the authors to change the title to something less silly, as the paper does have some merit. But papers related to Bell’s theorem go downhill from there. For some reason, the whole subject causes otherwise educated people to say crazy things. Many physics professors advise their students to stay away from the subject, in the same way that they advise not to try LSD. So Joy Christian did not take the advice. He might still be right about quantum computers being impossible.

Bell’s Theorem is of course correct as a mathematical theorem, but its physical significance is hotly disputed. Some people claim that it is one of the greatest discoveries in the history of science, and others say that it is a trivial observation of no importance. No Nobel Prize has been given for work related to it. Gerard 't Hooft is arguably the most widely respected theoretical phyisicist alive today, and he disputes the accepted interpretations of Bell's theorem in 2007 and 2009 papers. No one disputes the validity of quantum mechanics until people like Aaronson claim that it entails quantum computers, and that has never been shown. I think that Aaronson was stung by some of the criticism of his boycott of a research institution that supports a quantum computing skeptic.

Aaronson has built is whole career on the quantum computing hypothesis, even tho he acknowledges that no quantum computer has been built, may not be built for a century, and may not even be possible. That is okay with me. I just object to him saying that it is necessary from the validity of quantum mechanics, and that skeptics should be ignored because they cannot prove the impossibility of quantum computers.

Update: Joy Christian has been fired.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't posted on that website since Aaronson threatened to delete my posts: See comment 13.

    I wrote up a paper which explains my point of view on that subject matter here: