Monday, January 12, 2015

Not accepting God playing dice

A reader comments:
Einstein was not the only one of the founders to have misgivings about intrinsic probability. This from Max Born’s Nobel lecture of December 1954:

“ ... when I say that the physicists had accepted the concepts and modes of thought developed by us at the time I am not quite correct. There are some very noteworthy exceptions, particularly among the very workers who have contributed most to building up the quantum theory. Planck, himself, belonged to the sceptics until he died. Einstein, De Broglie and Schrodinger have unceasingly stressed the unsatisfactory features of quantum mechanics and called for a return to the concepts of classical Newtonian physics while proposing ways in which this could be done without contradicting experimental facts. Such weighty views cannot be ignored.”

It is interesting that those he mentions were more the wave mechanics people, rather than the Copenhagen and Gottingen matrix crew. Waves evolve and interfere in a peculiarly local and causal manner, whereas the matrix approach was developed from a stance that ignored all possibility of underlying but unobservable deterministic processes. Yet matter and radiation are in some sense ultimately wave-like in behaviour.

For my money, it is far too early to be denying the possibility of a deterministic explanation of the Born rule. N. P. Landsman had it right I think in commenting in connection with that rule that the “notion of strictly ‘irreducible’ randomness ... which is only defined through negation ... quite possibly makes no philosophical sense at all”. ( arXiv:0804.4849v1 (quant-ph 30 Apr 2008 ). But in this of course he is philosophising!
I agree that irreducible randomness makes no philosophical sense at all.

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