Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Anti-quantum zeal

Lubos Motl writes about Brian Greene's new book, The Hidden Reality:
In this case, it's much more accurate to say that there is nothing right about what Greene wrote about the interpretation of quantum mechanics. It contains pretty much all the laymen's misconceptions one can routinely hear and read in various popular and sometimes even "not so popular" books. All this stuff is frustrating because as far as I can see, there doesn't exist a single popular book about the interpretation of quantum mechanics that would be basically right. ...

So the reader learns about Hugh Everett III, a grad student who wrote a heroic thesis in which he outlined his opinion that Niels Bohr was an idiot and that the probabilistic interpretation of quantum mechanics had to be replaced by something else. John Wheeler, his adviser, liked it, but Wheeler was bullied by the evil Niels Bohr whom Wheeler had to worship, Greene essentially writes, so Bohr and Wheeler forced poor Everett to censor and dilute his thesis. :-)

The reality is, of course, that Everett's original thesis was full of complete junk about the non-existent problems of proper quantum mechanics and Niels Bohr kindly explained to John Wheeler why this stuff was junk. So Wheeler made it sure that Everett wouldn't write this junk into the final draft of his thesis because no person should get a physics PhD if he thinks, in the 1950s or later, that proper quantum mechanics is inconsistent.

Unfortunately, as of 2011, Brian Greene - and all other authors of popular books about quantum mechanics, to be sure that I am not singling him out - still misunderstands why the criticism of quantum mechanics has always been and remains rubbish.
I haven't seen this book, but I do agree that popular quantum mechanics books have a lot of rubbish about the supposed mysteries and inconsistencies.

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