Friday, December 4, 2015

Negative progress in quantum mechanics

I have defended textbook quantum mechanics against various critics, and now Lubos Motl writes:
Most fields of the human activity have seen persistent progress. But it's remarkable to see how much negative progress has occurred in the recent 85 if not 90 years in the field of "writing about the foundations of quantum mechanics". In 1930, people had folks like Heisenberg who had actually discovered the totally new foundations of physics, knew how to avoid all the traps and possible mistakes, and what they were, and they just presented the new theory in the no-nonsense way. Today we have tons of Deutsches, Wallaces, Puseys, Rudolphs, Barretts, Hsus who are sloppy all the time, who are dogmatic about things that are unsupported or directly contradict the evidence, and who are deliberately obfuscating some points in order to mask the incoherence of their message and indefensibility of the claim that quantum mechanics needs an "addition" and the universal postulates of quantum mechanics that materialized out of the Copenhagen spirit have to be replaced by one of their incoherent new sloppy irrational pictures that are designed to return physics to the era of classical physics, a goal that obviously can never succeed.
I agree with this. Some comments have claimed that the views of Bohr and Heisenberg are indefensible, but Lumo quotes Heisenberg:
However, all the opponents of the Copenhagen interpretation do agree on one point. It would, in their view, be desirable to return to the reality concept of classical physics or, to use a more general philosophic term, to the ontology of materialism. They would prefer to come back to the idea of an objective real world whose smallest parts exist objectively in the same sense as stones or trees exist, independently of whether or not we observe them.

This, however, is impossible or at least not entirely possible because of the nature of the atomic phenomena, as has been discussed in some of the earlier chapters. It cannot be our task to formulate wishes as to how the atomic phenomena should be; our task can only be to understand them.
So he clearly understood what was wrong with the Bohm-Bell school of physics that confuses people endlessly.

Here is a new paper on Bohr's views.

I am not saying that Bohr and Heisenberg got everything right, but we have had negative progress. Reputable physicists and journal say silly things about QM.

Meanwhile Scott Aaronson is speaking at an IBM conference on "ThinkQ 2015 - Challenges and applications for medium size quantum computers". The first thing he says in his slides is:
Can forget temporarily about practical applications of QC: the more immediate goal is just to show a clear quantum speedup for anything
You read that right. There are no practical applications on the horizon. They are desperately trying to show that it is possible for a quantum computer to have some sort of quantum speedup. So far, they have failed. Too bad Bohr and Heisenberg are no longer around to explain to them why they are failing.

1 comment:

  1. It has gotten so bad we need to meta-meta-write about QM.