Thursday, December 1, 2022

Entanglement Discovered in a Quantum Computer

Lenny Susskind and others have been saying that wormholes and entanglement are the same thing.

YouTube:

Almost a century ago, Albert Einstein realized that the equations of general relativity could produce wormholes. But it would take a number of theoretical leaps and a “crazy” team of experimentalists to build one on Google's quantum computer. Read the full article at Quanta Magazine:
The idea seems to be that if entanglement and wormholes are the same thing, and quantum computers use entanglement to do super-Turing computations, then there should be some wormholes hiding inside a quantum computer. Seems like a joke to me, but I did not read the details.

See Peter Woit for details. At least one physicist calls it a publicity stunt. The quantum computer researchers have burned a lot of money, and need something to show for it.

Update: A comment:

Even if the headline isn’t strictly accurate (a topic for another time, although I think you’re splitting hairs here), what’s the harm? It’s a cool-sounding result which gets people interested in theoretical physics, science more generally. As long as science journalists are driving interest and engagement, I think they’re doing a good job. If you want to discuss bad science journalism, surely a better use of your time would be all the anti-science fake news coming from the populist right in the U.S.
I suspect that this view is common. Over-hyped phony stories generate interest and funding. If you want to be a good Leftist, you should not call out Leftist lies. Instead you should devote that energy to attacking right-wingers!

Monday, November 28, 2022

Aharonov–Bohm effect does not Prove Nonlocality

I heard the suggestion that the Aharonov–Bohm effect proves a form of quantum nonlocality.
The Aharonov–Bohm effect, sometimes called the Ehrenberg–Siday–Aharonov–Bohm effect, is a quantum mechanical phenomenon in which an electrically charged particle is affected by an electromagnetic potential (φ, A), despite being confined to a region in which both the magnetic field B and electric field E are zero.[1] The underlying mechanism is the coupling of the electromagnetic potential with the complex phase of a charged particle's wave function, and the Aharonov–Bohm effect is accordingly illustrated by interference experiments.

The most commonly described case, sometimes called the Aharonov–Bohm solenoid effect, takes place when the wave function of a charged particle passing around a long solenoid experiences a phase shift as a result of the enclosed magnetic field, despite the magnetic field being negligible in the region through which the particle passes and the particle's wavefunction being negligible inside the solenoid. This phase shift has been observed experimentally.[2]

So the effect depends on the potential, and not just the fields.

The potential and fields are all locally defined, so what is the problem?

The problem is that only the fields are directly observable, and there is considerable discretion in defining the potential. Sometimes the potential is defined to satisfy a distant condition. This is allowed, because gauge symmetry means it has the same physical effect.

From the viewpoint of differential geometry, the potential is a connection on a complex line bundle, and is a purely local object. It is more fundamental than the fields.

The paradox is that an electron can interfere with itself after going around a non-null-homotopic loop with a flat complex line bundle. Arguably there is something nonlocal about that. I don't think so. It is not like action-at-a-distance at all.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Electrons Are Spinning

Scientific American reports:
Quantum Particles Aren’t Spinning. So Where Does Their Spin Come From?

A new proposal seeks to solve the paradox of quantum spin ...

But despite appearances, electrons don’t spin. They can’t spin; proving that it’s impossible for electrons to be spinning is a standard homework problem in any introductory quantum physics course. If electrons actually spun fast enough to account for all of the spinlike behavior they display, their surfaces would be moving much faster than the speed of light (if they even have surfaces at all). Even more surprising is that for nearly a century, this seeming contradiction has just been written off by most physicists as yet another strange feature of the quantum world, nothing to lose sleep over.

No, this is wrong. Electrons do spin. You only get that paradox if you assume that electrons are very tiny spheres or point particles, but quantum mechanics teaches that electron are non-classical entities with wave-like properties.

The article goes on to give the history of quantum spin, and how crucial it is for understanding chemistry and many other things.

But all of these fabulous discoveries, applications, and explanations still leave Goudsmit and Uhlenbeck’s question on the table: what is spin? If electrons must have spin, but can’t be spinning, then where does that angular momentum come from? The standard answer is that this momentum is simply inherent to subatomic particles, and doesn’t correspond to any macroscopic notion of spinning.

Yet this answer is not satisfying to everyone. “I never loved the account of spin that you got in a quantum mechanics class,” says Charles Sebens, a philosopher of physics at the California Institute of Technology.

No, this is silly. The QM textbooks teach that position, momentum, energy, angular momentum, and spin are observables that correspond to the classical variables, but cannot be taken literally about electrons as point particles, as the uncertainty principle prevents such a literal treatment. There is not really any difference between spin and the other variables in this respect.

I previously posted Electrons do spin.

Peter Woit explains:

Despite what Sebens and Carroll claim, it has nothing to do with quantum field theory. The spin phenomenon is already there in the single particle theory, with the free QFT just providing a consistent multi-particle theory. In addition, while relativity and four-dimensional space-time geometry introduce new aspects to the spin phenomenon, it’s already there in the non-relativistic theory with its three-dimensional spatial geometry.
Asking whether electrons really spin is a like asking whether they orbit the nucleus of an atom. A century ago, physicists tried to model an atom as classical electron orbits, and figured out that it doesn't work. You need a quantum model. But it is still correct to say that the electrons orbit the nucleus.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

TV Show on Zero and Infinity

I just watched the latest PBS TV Nova on Zero to Infinity:
Discover how the concepts of zero and infinity revolutionized mathematics.
It was stupid and boring.

A Black woman professor narrated. They always seems to find Blacks and women for these shows. Not sure why. Does PBS have a lot of Black viewers? Is it trying to get more?

I doubt it. My guess is that the typical WHite liberal PBS viewer gets a good feeling of social justice when a Black woman is lecturing.

Much of the show was about the invention of the Zero. It attributed it to India, and said that Persians and other middle easterners brought it to Europe.

But what was the invention? The use of 0 as a placeholder, or as a counting number, or as a number on the same footing as other numbers?

I looked for some statement from India or Persia saying something like: The counting numbers are { 0, 1, 2, ... }, and for any such numbers, A + B = B + A.

That would show that the author considered 0 to be a number just like 1 and 2.

But on the contrary, the show itself did not even do that. The moderator kept referring to the counting numbers as 1, 2, 3, ..., and not including 0.

Any who says that has still not grasped the invention of 0. 0 is a counting number. If I ask you how many apples you have, and you have none, then you answer 0. Maybe you answer -2, if you owe 2 apples. If you say there is no answer, then you have not accepted the 0.

Even the business pages of a typical newspaper rarely treat zero as a number. It will often avoid it with various euphemisms.

The show eventually moved on to infinity, but that was not any better. It gave a faulty version of Cantor's diagonal proof of the uncountability of the reals.

Suppose you list .4, .49999..., .009, .0009, ... . It said to add 1, mod 10, to each diagonal digit. That gives .50000. That is the same real number as the 2nd item on the list, with a different decimal representation.

A good proof must somehow take into account that real numbers can have two decimal representations.

Cantor's orginal proof did not use diagonalization.

The show went on to Zeno's paradoxes and Hilbert's hotel. It was all fairly trivial.

Since it tried to trace the origin of the zero, I thought that it might tell us who invented infinity?

It did talk about approximating π as a limit of an infinite sequence. I guess that idea goes back to the ancient Greeks. The invention of infinitesmal calculus required limits. Those ideas were made rigorous centuries later. Cantor introduced the concept of different infinite cardinals. I am not sure who really first had the modern concept.

These PBS shows appears to be expensively produced, but you can find lots of free YouTube videos that explain the math much better, and are more entertaining.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Making Finitary Deductions About Infinities

That is my 5-word definition of Mathematics. It is what distinguishes Math from every other field.

Some say that Math is the study of numbers, or the use of symbolic notation. But Music uses symbolic notation, and numbers are used by all the hard and soft sciences.

None of the empirical sciences ever encounter infinities. Cosmologists may talk about the universe having infinite extent, but there is no reason to believe that, and we cannot observe that. We only observe finite quantities.

And the sciences never make a finitary deduction either. An experiment might convince us of some fact, but it is really just evidence that makes an outcome 99% likely, or something like that. The experiment has to be refined and redone to become more and more sure of it.

Math has infinities all over the place. This is obviously true about work on limits, but it is also true about elementary statements like the Pythagorean Theorem. There are infinitely many possible right triangles, and the theorem gives a formula about all of them.

Even with all the infinities, the proofs always use a finite set of steps from a finite number of axioms. The proofs about the infinities are always strictly finitary.

Here is the Wikipedia definition of Mathematics:

Mathematics (from Ancient Greek μάθημα; máthēma: 'knowledge, study, learning') is an area of knowledge that includes such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory),[2] formulas and related structures (algebra),[3] shapes and the spaces in which they are contained (geometry),[2] and quantities and their changes (calculus and analysis).[4][5][6] Most mathematical activity involves the use of pure reason to discover or prove the properties of abstract objects, which consist of either abstractions from nature or — in modern mathematics — entities that are stipulated with certain properties, called axioms. A mathematical proof consists of a succession of applications of some deductive rules to already known results, including previously proved theorems, axioms and (in case of abstraction from nature) some basic properties that are considered as true starting points of the theory under consideration.

Mathematics is used in science for modeling phenomena, which then allows predictions to be made from experimental laws. The independence of mathematical truth from any experimentation implies that the accuracy of such predictions depends only on the adequacy of the model. Inaccurate predictions, rather than being caused by incorrect mathematics, imply the need to change the mathematical model used.

Here is Britannica:
mathematics, the science of structure, order, and relation that has evolved from elemental practices of counting, measuring, and describing the shapes of objects. It deals with logical reasoning and quantitative calculation, and its development has involved an increasing degree of idealization and abstraction of its subject matter. Since the 17th century, mathematics has been an indispensable adjunct to the physical sciences and technology, and in more recent times it has assumed a similar role in the quantitative aspects of the life sciences.
Here are some dictionaries:
The abstract science of number, quantity, and space. -- Oxford

An abstract representational system studying numbers, shapes, structures, quantitative change and relationships between them. -- Wiktionary

The science of numbers and their operations, interrelations, combinations, generalizations, and abstractions and of space configurations and their structure, measurement, transformations, and generalizations. -- Merriam-Webster

The study of the measurement, relationships, and properties of quantities and sets, using numbers and symbols. -- dictonary.com

The science that deals with the logic of shape, quantity and arrangement. -- Live science

The study of numbers, shapes, and space using reason and usually a special system of symbols and rules for organizing them. -- Cambridge

These are pretty good, but do not distinguish Math from science well. Yes, Math is an area of knowledge that includes numbers, but the mathematicians do proofs, with infinite numbers and finite arguments.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Sean M. Carroll Goes Woke on Sex

Sean M. Carroll has become one of the leading expositors of advanced Physics, but he has a lot of strange views that will make you skeptical of whatever he tells you.

The biggest is that he believes in the many-worlds alternative to quantum mechanics. This is a belief that anything is possible, and that nothing is more likely than anything. It is a complete rejection of all modern science.

He has his own rationalization that is mostly circular reasoning.

In his latest Ask Me Anything podcast, he says that he does not see a moral justification for parents spending money on their children's education. He says all children should get the same education.

He is married with no kids.

He is welcome to his opinions, but he does not describe the American situation accurately. In California, his home state until recently, the schools get about 50% of the state budget, and the poor districts get at least as much as the rich districts. The rich are not getting any better educational opportunities.

Some rich parents do send their kids to expensive schools, but the educational opportunities are not much different from public schools.

He has also joined the sex-deniers who say that biological sex is not binary. Biology professor Jerry Coyne is a big fan of Carroll, because of what he says in favor of determinism and against libertarian free will, but schools him on biological sex.

In reality, what they are trying to do is the reverse: adjust scientific reality so that it aligns with social justice. That is, if sex is a spectrum and not binary, then people of different genders can somehow feel that they are in harmony with biological reality. But that’s an example of the “appeal to nature.” The rights of people of different genders, including transsexual people, do not depend on the developmental biology of sex, or of any observations in nature about sex dichotomies.

I’m not going to discuss my claim that sex is binary; I’ve talked about it at length, as did Luana Maroja in her piece at Substack. I’ll just put it out there that the going biological definition of sex is that there are two sexes in vertebrates: males (who produce small mobile gametes) and females (who produce large, immobile gametes). There is no group that produces intermediate types of gametes that can unite with other gametes, so there is nothing beyond these two sexes.

Carroll is not a biologist. He is not to be confused with the somewhat more accomplished scientist, Sean B. Carroll, who really is an expert biologist.

I assume that Sean M. Carroll is smart enough to know the difference between male and female. But it appears that he is willing to recite nonsense in order to please his Leftist Woke fans.

I suggest keeping this in mind when listening to him. He sometimes gives pretty good explanations of textbook physics, but his opinions on big picture physics are dubious, and his moral and politcal opinions are garbage.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Einstein and the Equivalence Principle

New paper:
Einstein's Happiest Moment: The Equivalence Principle
Paul Worden, James Overduin

Einstein's happiest thought was his leap from the observation that a falling person feels no gravity to the realization that gravity might be equivalent to acceleration. It affects all bodies in the same way because it is a property of spacetime -- its curvature -- not a force propagating through spacetime (like electromagnetic or nuclear forces). When expressed in a way that is manifestly independent of the choice of coordinates, this idea became General Relativity. But the ground for what is now known as the "equivalence principle" was laid long before Einstein, affording a fascinating example of the growth of a scientific idea through the continuous interplay between theory and experiment.

As this article and Eikipedia explain, the equivalence principle goes back centuries. Einstein was very happy about using it in a 1907 paper, but it was not because gravity was a realization of curvature, as he did not even know what curvature was at the time.

It is my understanding that what Einstein was actually happy about was that he figured out a way to use the principle to use special realtivity to show gravitational time dilation.

Special relativity is often described as a theory about constant velocity, but back during the early days, say 1995-2010, it was widely understood to cover accelerating particles also. Poincare proposed a couple of relativistic gravity theories, but the geometry was not understood.

Einstgein figured out how to sidestep having a gravity theory, by saying that gravity was like non-gravitational acceleration. That was enough to figure out clocks in a gravitational field.

People often say that general relativity is needed for GPS navigation, but I don't think that is true. It only needs special relativity, and this trick of Einstein.

As far as I know, this idea of Einstein was his own, and not plagiarized from anyone else. Maybe that is why he was so happy about it.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Probability is Subjective

Ulrich J. Mohrhoff writes:
With Mermin, I also hold this truth to be self-evident (though it took me some time to get there), that probabilities are intrinsically subjective. ...

Mermin invokes the celebrated probabilist Bruno de Finetti, who wrote: “The abandonment of superstitious beliefs about the existence of Phlogiston, the cosmic ether, absolute space and time. . . , or Fairies and Witches, was an essential step along the road to scientific thinking. Probability too, if regarded as something endowed with some kind of objective existence, is no less a misleading misconception, an illusory attempt to exteriorize or materialize our actual probabilistic beliefs.”

Taking the mind-independent existence of the external world for granted, de Finetti holds that there is no place for probability in such a world, any- more than there is for Phlogiston and the rest.

I agree with this, but do not deny the importance of probability.

All scientific theories are inherently probabilistic. Even classical celestial mechanics, the textbook example of the clockwork deterministic universe, was always probabilistic in practice. Observations in the sky always had errors, and predictions had uncertainty. Linear regression was invented to make probabilistic predictions about celestial orbits.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Quantum Computing Skeptic gives Lecture

Gil Kalai gave a lecture on the impossibility of quantum computers, summarized here:
My argument for the impossibility of quantum computers lies within the scope of quantum mechanics and does not deviate from its principles. In essence, the argument is based on computational complexity and its interpretation, and it is discussed in-depth in my papers which also include a discussion of general conclusions that derive from my argument and relate to quantum physics, alongside suggestions of general laws of nature that express the impossibility of quantum computation.

My argument mostly deals with understanding quantum computers on the intermediate scale (known as NISQ computers, an abbreviation of Noisy Intermediate Scale Quantum), that is, quantum computers of up to at most several hundreds of qubits. It is expected that on this scale we will be able to construct quantum codes of a quality sufficient for the construction of bigger quantum computers. It is further expected that on this scale the quantum computer will achieve computations far beyond the ability of powerful classical computers, that is, will achieve quantum computational supremacy. The Google’s Sycamore computer is an example of a noisy intermediate-scale quantum computer.

As specified later, it is my argument that NISQ computers cannot be controlled. Hence:

  1. Such systems cannot demonstrate significant quantum computational advantage.
  2. Such systems cannot be used for the creation of quantum error-correcting codes.
  3. Such systems lead to non-stationary and even chaotic distributions.

Note that he does not say that quantum mechanics is wrong. He denies that quantum computing is a necessary consequence.

A lot of smart people and a lot of research funding say that he is wrong.

Maybe I am just a contrarian, but it seems to me that they should have been able to prove him wrong by now. They have not.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Dr. Bee Make Bad Argument for Superdeterminism

Jonte R. Hance and Sabine Hossenfelder posted another short argument for superdeterminism, without admitting that superdeterminism is their real goal.

It starts out complaining that a Physics Nature article about Bell Tests was not completely precise. The Bell Tests prove that quantum mechanics experiments are inconsistent with local hidden variable theories.

As Bell and others have pointed out, there are some subtle assumptions: that the experimenter can make free choices (no superdeterminism), that future does not cause the past (no retrocausality), and that experiments have single outcomes (no many-worlds). All of these possibilities are crazy, and no serious person would believe in them. So these are reasonable assumptions.

If their only point was that a precise statement would mention these possibilities, that would be fine. But they go further.

They say that some people believe that they have the free will to do the measurements they choose, and then "It is, in hindsight, difficult to understand how this as- sociation came about." That is, they do not understand how people could think that they have the free will choose equipment settings.

Understanding the implications is even more important now that the experimentally observed violations of Bell’s inequality have been awarded the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics. Contrary to what is of- ten stated, these observations do not demonstrate that “spooky action at a distance” is real and nature therefore non-local.
The Nobel citation did not say that spooky action is real, or that there is anything wrong with quantum mechanics.
Rather, the observations show that if nature is local, then statistical independence must be violated. We should therefore look for independent experimental evidence that can distinguish the two different options: non-locality and statistical independence, or locality and violations of statistical independence.
No, they are wrong here. The Bell observations show that if nature is local, then the theory must be a non-classical theory like quantum mechanics, or else we have one of the crazy loopholes like superdeterminism, retrocausality, or many-worlds. Saying non-classical is essentially the same as saying no local hidden variables.

Their deceptive title is "Bell's theorem allows local theories of quantum mechanics". That is completely correct statement, as local quantum mechanics is what all the textbooks teach. But what the body of the paper says is that Bell's theorem allows local superdeterminism, and that is the opposite of quantum mechanics. There is no superdeterministic theory of quantum mechanics.

Believing is superdeterminism is essentially a rejection of all science in the last millennium. So is retrocausality and many-worlds. You can believe in it if you want, but it is quite wrong to say that it is required by locality.

Dr. Bee has started expanding her podcasts to covering science news. She does a competent job, and she is very knowledgeable about Physics. But how can you trust anyone who believes that no one has any free will to do experiments, and that every randomized trial is fake?

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

String Theory may Explain Consciousness

New paper:
Recent proposals in quantum gravity have suggested that unknown systems can mediate entanglement between two known quantum systems, if the mediator itself is non-classical. This approach may be applicable to the brain, where speculations about quantum operations in consciousness and cognition have a long history. ...

Our findings suggest that we may have witnessed entanglement mediated by consciousness-related brain functions. Those brain functions must then operate non-classically, which would mean that consciousness is non-classical.

Roger Penrose was widely mocked for advocating ideas like this. No one has made much progress on the problem of consciousness, and I am skeptical about this, and the next story.

Separately, I heard a rumor that a string theory prediction about holography has been confirmed in a quark-gluon plasma:

a big (not so well-kept) secret I heard the other day. Story goes that some accelerator lab (Fermi?) has been busy smashing heavy ion beams (Au nuclei?) together, creating a quark-gluon plasma. and measuring some QCD observable (say "A") of the chaos that ensues. According to a "holographic principle" (an AdS/CFT-type correspondence), A is equivalently described as some GR (or QG?) observable ("B") on the system comprised of a black hole that arises in the 5D spacetime forming the bulk (interior) of the shell on which the q-g plasma lives as a solution to the QCD equations. The Einstein equations for the evolution of the hole are solvable and B can be calculated. The lab has apparently successfully verified that the "predictions" given by the calculations of B agree with measurements of A. (Secret was leaked by Susskind in a recent talk which can be found on YouTube... my version includes a little reading between the lines and may not be completely accurate.... so I'll speculate further and guess that A is something like rate of change of temperature and B is something like rate of change in entropy, i.e., area of the event horizon. The plasma cools and the hole shrinks due to Hawking radiation?)

This is mind-blowing and, I think, of importance equal to, if not surpassing, that of the confirmation of GR by deflection of starlight during the 1919 eclipse... or of the finding of the Higgs.
I will be watching for more on this. Lenny Susskind gave some related lectures here and here.

Peter Woit has a new post trashing some related claims to testing string theory.

Scott Aaronson is claiming some new results about the complexity of the AdS/CFT correspondence. You have to skip over his previous blog post, where he describes the progressive thesis that he is aligned with:

just like at least a solid minority of Germans turned out to be totally fine with Nazism, however much they might’ve denied it beforehand, so too at least a solid minority of Americans would be fine with — if not ecstatic about — The Handmaid’s Tale made real. Indeed, they’d add, it’s only vociferous progressive activism that stands between us and that dystopia.

And if anyone were tempted to doubt this, progressives might point to the election of Donald Trump, the failed insurrection to maintain his power, and the repeal of Roe as proof enough to last for a quadrillion years.

I have never even heard of any Trump supporters who want anything like The Handmaid's Tale. Only liberals watch the show and read the bood, as far as I know. Also there was no insurrection, and no repeal. Abortion law was merely returned to the democratic process. Aaronson sounds like a parody of a left-wing lunatic. I sometimes wonder if he is serious.

Monday, October 31, 2022

What was that Bell Nobel Prize For?

The Bell fans lobbied for a Nobel Prize for 30 years, and they finally got it, so are they happy?

No. See this video, Tim Maudlin Corrects the 2022 Nobel Physics Committee About Bell's Inequality. He says the Nobel citation missed the point.

I don't want to pick a fight with Maudlin, as he is a very smart guy who explains this stuff very well. He has sharp disagreements with others about Bell's theorem, and I describe them here.

Another recent Maudlin video says:

[47:00] The theorem of Bell [and confirming experiments] is the most astonishing thing in the history of Physics.
Among other things, he gives a very good explanation of what is wrong with superdeterminism, as a Bell loophole. Here is a shorter interview.

Here is my view. When quantum mechanics (QM) was discovered in 1926, a lot of smart people wondered whether was a new type of theory, or if the uncertainties were just disguising an underlying classical theory. John von Neumann was the world's smartest man, and he convinced himself in 1932 that QM was different from any classical theory. Einstein co-wrote a 1935 paper speculating that QM might be completed by adding elements of physical reality. Bell showed in 1964 that the difference between QM and a classical theory could be quantified, and that was later confirmed experimentally by Clauser and the other Noble prize winners.

So the Bell work is no big deal, as it only confirmed what everyone thought.

Maudlin and the other Bell fans have another view. To be fair to Maudlin, I suggest his paper, What Bell Did, and his exchange with Werner, here and here.

He correctly says that Bell assumed locality, hidden variables, and statistical independence. Statistic independence is assumed by all of science, and is reasonable. Hidden variables are just the Einstein elements of physical reality, and he and Bell argue that any reasonable theory would have them. That leaves locality. The experiments showed that the Bell inequalities are violated, so that means that nature must be nonlocal.

He is right that if you accept hidden variable theory then you have to accept nonlocality. I just do not accept hidden variables.

He is also right that the Nobel citation failed to endorse the nonlocality conclusion.

There are also the superdeterminism and many-worlds loopholes, but Maudlin and the Nobel committee are right to ignore these. That leaves you with a choice -- you can have locality or hidden variables, but you cannot have both.

Maudlin would say that I and the Nobel committee suffer from a misconception that has gone on for decades.

It would take some very compelling evidence to convince me of nonlocality. As Maudlin says, if you snap your fingers, do you believe that what happens in your hand can depend on what happens in a distant galaxy? I say of course not, but Maudlin accepts that.

Wouldn't we see some examples of action-at-a-distance?

He gives an example pointing to nonlocality in the Aharonov–Bohm effect. I do not agree, but it requires technical explanation, and maybe I will post separately on it.

Maudlin says:

The reality of nonlocality has been settled. [3rd video, 18:45]
So what is nonlocal? There is no way to change one particle, and have that affect an observable of a distant particle. So the only things that are nonlocal are the mythical hidden variables.

Wikipedia describes Bell's theorem:

Bell's theorem is a term encompassing a number of closely related results in physics, all of which determine that quantum mechanics is incompatible with local hidden-variable theories given some basic assumptions about the nature of measurement.
Maudlin wants to remove the term "hidden-variable" from the picture, and deny that Bell made such an assumption. You can read Bell's 1964 original paper, and see for yourself that he assumes hidden variables. In later papers he called them "beables" and tried to argue that they could be assumed from first principles. But they have to be assumed somehow.

Discussions of Bell's Theorem sometimes get sidetracked by issues of probability and determinism. Some say Bell proved the world is indeterministic. Some say Einstein EPR objected to indeterminism. This is a red herring. There is some truth to it, but it has to be stated carefully, or it is misleading. Maybe I will make another post on this issue. I would say that Bell proved the impossibility of local hidden variable theories, whether they are deterministic or stochastic. Ultimately all theories are stochastic anyway, as all measurements and predictions have errors.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Why Many-Worlds cannot have Probabilities

More and more physicists say that the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI) is their favorite interpretation of quantum mechanics (QM). They usually argue that it is simpler, more scientific, more philosophically sensible, and obviously preferable to the nonsensical and inconsistent Coperhagen Interpretation (CI). They stress that it is an interpretation, making all the same predictions as QM/CI. All of this is false. MWI does not any predictions that are verifiable by experiment. It says all outcomes are possible. To get a measurable prediction, you have to somehow say that some outcomes are more probable than others. The MWI theory fails to say any worlds are more probable than others. So to get probabilities, you need the Born Rule.

Some have argued that there is a way to get the Born Rule in MWI, but the mainstream opinion is that those arguments are circular. For example, see this recent paper:

How Do the Probabilities Arise in Quantum Measurement? Mani L. Bhaumik ...

So far, only some ad hoc propositions such as Born’s rule [5] have allowed the physicists to predict experimen- tal results with uncanny accuracy of better than a part in trillion [6]. But the basic cause of this essential rule has remained shrouded in a veil of mystery. One of the prominent investigators in this field, Wojciech Zurek has attempted to provide a derivation of the Born rule per- haps to make his program comprehensive [7]. But it has faced a stiff resistance from some foremost investigators including one of the giants of physics of our time, Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg.

In his classic textbook, Lectures on Quantum Mechan- ics, Weinberg states [8, p. 92], “There seems to be a wide spread impression that decoherence solves all obstacles to the class of interpretations of quantum mechanics, which take seriously the dynamical assumptions of quantum mechanics as applied to everything, including measure- ment.” Weinberg goes on to characterize his objection by asserting that the problem with derivation of the Born’s rule by Zurek “is clearly circular, because it relies on the formula for expectation values as matrix elements of operators, which is itself derived from the Born rule.” In [8, p. 26] he questions, “If physical states, including observers and their instruments, evolve deterministically, where do the probabilities come from?" Again in his recent book [9, p. 131], Weinberg questions, “So if we regard the whole process of measurement as being governed by the equations of quantum mechanics, and these equations are perfectly deterministic, how do probabilities get into quantum mechanics?

Maximilian Schlosshauer and Arthur Fine remark [10], “Certainly Zurek’s approach improves our understanding of the probabilistic character of quantum theory over that sort of proposal by at least one quantum leap.” However, they also criticize Zurek’s derivation of the Born’s rule of circularity, stating: “We cannot derive probabilities from a theory that does not already contain some probabilistic concept; at some stage, we need to “put probabilities in to get probabilities out.”

The author goes on to argue that he has solved these problems, and found a solution that has eluded physicists since 1926.

Maybe so, but I doubt it. The paper looks as if it reviews some standard QM theory, and shows that questions naturally have probabilities. Yes, sure QM has probabilities. It is when you make the leap to deterministic unitary theory and MWI that the probabilities disappear.

Weinberg is dead, so we cannot ask him if this paper solves the problem. I doubt that others are persuaded, but we shall see.

In the mean time, I cite this as proof that MWI currently has no way of saying that any outcome is more probable than any other. In other worlds, completely usuless as a scientific theory. Anyone who subscribes to it is a crackpot.

Unless this paper solves all the MWI problems. If the MWI advocates endorse this paper as a solution to their problems, then I will take another look at it. But that will not happen. They will just go on ignoring the fact that MWI cannot make any testable prediction.

Here is a podcast interview of Hugh Everett's biographer. He is described as having a hard life, and his MWI theory, which he preferred to call the "relative state", was not well appreciated in his lifetime. The interviewer, Steve Hsu is a believer.

They acknowledge that some journals refuse to publish anything in favor of MWI, and maybe half of physicists regard it as outlandish and ridiculous. But they also argue that it is essentially the same as decoherence theory, and that is very well accepted.

It is not the same. Decoherence is an attempt to understand how the wave function collapses, in the absence of an observer. Copenhagen followers regard it as a straightforward extension of known QM. MWI posits that decoherence is accompanied by a split in the universes, making many more.

Hsu says that the whole universe does not necessarily split; just the observer splits. Okay, but he really wants MWI for cosmology problems where there is no observer. The splits must be huge.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

An Electron is in Probabilistic Limbo

Science journalist John Horgan writes in SciAm about the recent Nobel Prize for Bell experiments:
Electrons possess a quantum property called spin, which is unlike the spin of a planet or top. Quantum spin is binary; it is either up or down, to use a common notation. Imagine if planets could only spin clockwise, or counterclockwise, with their axes pointed only at the North Star, and in no other direction, and you’re getting the gist of spin. Although quantum spin, like entanglement, makes no sense, it has been verified countless times over the past century.
No, that is not quite right. Quantum spin is measured by a Stern-Gerlach device, and that measures spin in a particular direction. Spin could be in another direction, but if you only measure North-South, you will only see North-South spin.

The concept makes sense. The most confusing thing is that the uncertainty principle prevents knowing the spin in different directions at the same time.

Okay, now you let the electrons fly apart from each other. Then you measure the spin of electron A and find that its spin is up. At that moment, the wave function for both electrons collapses, instantaneously predicting the spin of electron B, even if it is a light-year away. How can that be? How can your measurement of A tell you something about B instantaneously? Entanglement seems to violate special relativity, which says that effects cannot propagate faster than the speed of light. Entanglement also implies that the two electrons, before you measure them, do not have a fixed spin; they exist in a probabilistic limbo.
Horgan has been taking a QM class, but he has been led astray. Spin is not so confusing.

Even one electron by itself is in a probabilistic limbo. Even if you prepare it to have definite spin in a particular direction, then measuring spin in other directions will be governed by a probability forumula.

He complains about entanglement, but a similar thing happens classically. Suppose you had a two-planet system, and knew the total angular momentum. Then the planets got separated, and you measured the spin of one of them. You would immediately know the spin of the distant planet.

Nobody thinks that is spooky, or violates special relativity. So why do people get so excited by Einstein EPR and quantum spin entanglement?

You might say the quantum spin is more mysterious because of the uncertainty principle, and because Bell proved that the correlations are somewhat higher that what you would expect from a local hidden variable theory.

Okay, I agree, those are mysterious. So talk about them! Those mysteries can be understood.

Instead, these article use smoke and mirrors to exaggerate what is mysterious. I cannot even blame Horgan for this, as he is just parroting popular explanations that are designed to confuse.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Biology Journals have gone Woke

Academic research papers are increasingly woke-infected. Here is a recent biology paper, published in a respectable journal:
Six Principles for Embracing Gender and Sexual Diversity in Postsecondary Biology Classrooms

Conclusions

Biology classrooms represent powerful opportunities to teach sex- and gender-related topics accurately and inclusively. The sexual and gender diversity displayed in human populations is consistent with the diversity that characterizes all biological systems, but current teaching paradigms often leave students with the impression that LGBTQIA2S + people are acting against nature or “basic biology.” This failure of biology education can have dangerous repercussions. ...

Author Biographical

Ash T. Zemenick is a nonbinary trans person who grew up with an economically and academically supportive household to which they attribute many of their opportunities. They are now the manager of the University of California Berkeley's Sagehen Creek Field Station, in Truckee, California, and are a cofounder and lead director of Project Biodiversify, in the United States. Shaun Turney is a white heterosexual transgender Canadian man who was supported in both his transition and his education by his university-educated parents. He is currently on paternity leave from his work as a non–tenure-track course lecturer in biology. Alex J. Webster is a cis white queer woman who grew up in an economically stable household and is now raising a child in a nontraditional queer family structure. She is a research professor in the University of New Mexico's Department of Biology, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and is a director of Project Biodiversify, in the United States. Sarah C. Jones is a disabled (ADHD) cis white queer woman who grew up in a supportive and economically stable household with two university-educated parents. She is a director of Project Biodiversify, and serves as the education manager for Budburst, a project of the Chicago Botanic Garden, in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. Marjorie G. Weber is a cis white woman who grew up in an economically stable household. She is an assistant professor in Michigan State University's Plant Biology Department and Program in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, in East Lansing, Michigan, and is a cofounder and director of Project Biodiversify, in the United States.

I guess that if an author is "cis white" and from a normal educated family, she has to claim a disadvantage privilege somehow, so she is queer and disabled with ADHD. In most people, queer is an excuse for perverted sexual practices, and ADHD is an excuse for mind-altering drugs.

Nature, perhaps the world's top science journal, has turned over a whole issue to racism. It starts with the last known example of scientific racism:

In 1768, the UK Royal Society commissioned a research ship, HMS Endeavour, to sail to Tahiti in time to witness a transit of Venus across the Sun. But, as researchers later discovered, the UK government and the society had an extra purpose for the voyage: the ship’s captain, James Cook, had been given secret instructions to continue onwards in what became Britain’s colonial takeover of Australia and New Zealand.
I am not sure what is racist about that. Britain probably did not care about the races of the local inhabitants.
The killing of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police department, and President Donald Trump’s crushing of protests across the United States, has angered the world, and led to marches in cities globally. The repeated killings of Black people in the United States serve as reminders — reminders that should not be needed — of the injustice, violence and systemic inequality that Black Americans continue to experience in every sphere of life.

Black people are more likely than white people to die at the hands of the police;

These are lies. Floyd died of a fentanyl overdose. Trump did not crush protests. Black people are less likely to die at the hands of police. There are only about ten a year who die, and they are nearly always dying as a result of trying to kill an arresting officer.

Since it is a science journal, I expect it to have evidence for its assertion. But the issue keeps claiming racism, and the only examples are trivial. One Black womon complains that when she came to a USA college dormitory from Ghana, her roommate did not want her sitting on her (the roommate's) bed. Another Black geoscientist complained that he was asked in a private email to defend some public accusations he made.

This is bizarrely lame. Most people do not want others sitting on their beds. White scientists have no problem defending what they say. Only a crappy scientist would refuse.

So why doesn't she go back to Ghana if she is being treated so badly? No, the fact is that there is a steady migration of Blacks from Black majority countries to supposedly racist countries like USA and UK. The fact is that USA and UK treat Blacks extremely well, and better than elsewhere.

This issue was supposed to convince me that Black scientists suffer systemic racism, but it convinces me of the opposite. The Black scientists in it are incompetent whiners who cannot give any example of any Black being mistreated, or say anything to justify the affirmative action policies of hiring less competent Blacks over more competent Whites.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

The Multiverse Pandemic

More and more, Physics popularizers like Sean M. Carroll tell that we have to accept Many-Worlds, as the only intellectually respectable interpretation of quantum mechanics. Furthermore, it is logically implied by Schroedinger's equation, and Occam's Razor requires acceptance. As a bonus, it is completely deterministic, so we have no free will.

This is so crazy, it deserves to be mocked.

Nicolas Gisin writes in a new paper:

Newton never pretended that his physics were complete. And so, the dictatorship of Determinism was tolerable to free men.

Then came quantum physics. At first, free men celebrated the revolution of intrinsic randomness in the material world. This was the end of the awful dictator De- terminism, or so they thought. But this dictator had a son. . . or was it his grandson?

Determinism returned in the new guise of quantum physics without randomness: everything, absolutely everything, all alternatives, would equally happen, all on an equal footing. Real choices were no longer possible. But the most terrible was still to come: universal entanglement. According to the new multiversal dictator, not only did the material world obey deterministic laws, but it was all one big monstrous piece, everything entangled with everything else. There was no room left for any pineal gland, no possible interface between physics and free-will. The sources of all forces, all fields, everything was part of the big Ψ, the wavefunction of the multiverse, as the dictator bade people call their new God. ...

It’s time to take a step back. I am a free being, I enjoy free-will. I know that much more than anything else. How then, could an equation, even a truly beauti- ful equation, tell me I’m wrong? I know that I am free much more intimately than I will ever know any equation. Hence, and despite the grandiloquent speeches, I know in my gut that the Schrodinger equation can’t be the full story; there must be something else. “But what?”, reply the dictator’s priests. Admittedly, I don’t know, but I know the multiverse hypothesis is wrong, simply because I know determinism is a sham[4–9]

He is right. You know it is bogus when Carroll tells us that Occam's Razor and the beauty of the Schroeding equation require us to believe that zillions of new universes are being created every second. When you think you are making a decision, you are just creating new universes where everything possible happens.

You do not have to understand the mathematics of the Schroeding equation to know that this is foolishness.

Here is a reply to Gisin.

According to compatibilism, it is perfectly possible that our will is compatible with a causally closed world. But this may seem to be a too simplistic semantic trick to avoid the problem, and there is more to be said.

But how can indeterminism allow free-will? How would it help if our decisions are not fully determined by our own present state, but by occasional randomness break- ing into the causal chain?

Wouldn’t we be more free if we can determine our next decisions based on how we are now, rather than letting them at the mercy of randomness?

When the super-smart AI robots take over the world, I expect them to use sneaky philosophical arguments like this to convince people that the truest possible freedom is to become a slave to a deterministic algorithm.
But why being restricted to a unique choice would mean more freedom than making all possible choices in different worlds? A world in which we can choose only one thing and all the others are forbidden restricts our freedom. MWI allows us to follow Yogi Bera’s advice,
When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
So true freedom is a child's imagination, where anything can happen.
Could it be true that in MWI the histories in which Shakespeare produced randomly both great and bad lit- erature overwhelmingly dominate the multiverse? If MWI gives the same probabilities as standard QM, Shakespeare should create consistently great or consis- tently bad literature in most histories.

So how would entanglement limit creativity?

It is hard to believe physicists say this stuff seriously.

Here is another attempted rebuttal. I guess the Gisin paper touched a nerve.

Second, the concept of free will is vague and ill-defined - so it is a shaky basis to build a general argument against a given physical theory. Of course we all experience (and enjoy) the feeling of making our decisions spontaneously and autonomously, and it is comforting to know that this feeling is not in contradiction with our most fundamental understanding of the universe; but in order to understand exactly how physical laws allow for free will (or conscious- ness, or creativity – call it whatever you like), one needs a physical theory of it, which we currently do not have.
In other words, we all experience free will, but our physics cannot explain it, so we should just go with theories that make it impossible.
Another argument against unitary quantum theory is that its only available interpretation is the so-called “Many-world” interpretation ...

Unitary quantum theory is consistent; it provides a good explanation of all the experimental observations so far, and (unlike some of its stochastic variants) it is also compatible with properties of general relativity, such as locality and the equivalence principle.

Yes, unitary QM is just another name for Many-worlds, and it has never been able to explain any experiments or had any compatibility advantages with relativity.

In regular QM, you collect some data, make a wave function, compute a prediction, do an experiment, and get a definite outcome. Then you collapse the wave function to incorporate the new info.

In a unitary theory, all the possible outcomes that did not happen must live on somehow. We do not see them, so we suppose them to be in the parallel worlds. So the theory does not really predict anything, because it says all things happen invisibly.

Saying that the unitary QM theory is consistent and explains experiments is just nonsense. The theory says anything can happen. It only explains experiments in the sense that whatever we see is one of the possibilities in a theory saying everything is a possibility. That's all. The theory cannot even say that some outcomes are more probable than others.

Here is a recent podcast from another free will denier. He says most physicists say that QM has inherent indeterminacies, but he subscribes to superdeterminism. He goes on to explain that Schroedinger's cat is either alive or dead, and long-term weather predictions may be impossible due to chaos. Okay, but no free will? He returns to the subject at 1:33:20. His only reluctance to accept full determinism is that he does not want to excuse Hitler for moral responsibility.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Science Grants for Equity, not Science

Physicist Lawrence Krauss writes in the WSJ:
Now Even Science Grants Must Bow to ‘Equity and Inclusion’

Forget the Higgs boson and neutrinos. The Energy Department wants to know your diversity plan.

Starting in fiscal 2023, which began Oct. 1, every proposal responding to a solicitation from the Office of Science is required to include a PIER plan, which stands for Promoting Inclusive and Equitable Research, to “describe the activities and strategies of the applicant to promote equity and inclusion as an intrinsic element to advancing scientific excellence.” In the words of the announcement, “The complexity and detail of a PIER Plan is expected to increase with the size of the research team and the number of personnel to be supported.”

When I read this new requirement, I went back to the last grant proposal from our group—which involved exploring gravitational waves, the early universe, Higgs boson physics, neutrino cosmology, dark-matter detection, supersymmetry and black-hole physics. What does any of this have to do with diversity and inclusion? Nothing.

There a cost to this. I expect American Science to ge into a long term decline. Colleges are no long accepting the best students, universities are not hiring the best professors, and the best research is not being funded.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Nobel Prize was Not for Non-locality

Commentary about the 2022 Nobel Physics Prize breaks down into two camps: (1) the experiments confirmed quantum mechanics as it has been understood since 1932; or (2) revolutionary experiments show nature is not real or local.

I pointed out that the Nobel committee stuck to (1), and pointedly did not endorse (2).

Another person who noticed this was Physics Philosopher Tim Maudlin, who wrote:

Unfortunately, much of this history has been garbled in the public discussion of Bell’s work and its experimental tests. The Nobel prize committee itself gets it wrong in its press release,
"John Clauser developed John Bell’s ideas, leading to a practical experiment. When he took the measurements, they supported quantum mechanics by clearly violating a Bell inequality. This means that quantum mechanics cannot be replaced by a theory that uses hidden variables."
But that statement is flatly false. Indeed, it was a theory that uses hidden variables—Bohmian mechanics—that inspired Bell to find his inequalities, and that theory makes the correct prediction that the inequalities will be violated.
The Nobel statement is correct if "theory" means "local theory". For the most part, theories have to be local to be scientific. A nonlocal theory can have magical action-at-a-distiance.

Bohr, Einstein, Bohm, Bell, and everyone else did not believe in nonlocal theories. Bell and Bohm only wrote about Bohm's theory as a mathematical curiosity. Bell was parially motivated by trying to find a local version of Bohm's theory, not to accept a nonlocal theory.

Maudlin is exceptional in that he believes in nonlocal interpretations. I think Botmian pilot wave theory is his favorite, and he claims it can be turned into a full interpreation of quantum mechanics.

Much as poeple like to argue that QM is strange, Bohmian mechanics is far stranger. In it, an electron can be observed in one place, and its ghost can be causing weird effects elsewhere.

Maudlin concludes:

What Bell’s theoretical work and the subsequent experimental work of Clauser, Aspect and Zeilinger proved was non-locality, not no-hidden-variables. Ultimately, they proved Einstein wrong in his suspicions against spooky action-at-a-distance. And that, surely, deserves the highest honors one can bestow.
Yes, they would deserve the highest honors if they proved non-locality, and that spooky action-at-a-distance really does happen. But the Nobel Prize citation pointedly does not say any of those things. The prize was only for experimental work confirming quantum mechanics as it was understood in 1932.

In his later years, Bell adopted a view that a true theory of nature should be based on hidden variables, which he called by a term he coined, "beables". So hidden variables became a philosophical necessity. So when the Bell test experiments ruled out local hidden variables, he adopted nonlocal hidden variables. I think that Maudlin was persuaded by that argument.

But the mainstream textbooks are not persuaded, and neither is the Nobel committee.

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Spooky Entanglement or Collapse?

The Nobel Prize news has everybody talking about quantum spookiness, even though the Nobel committee did not endorse any of it.

Dr. Bee tweets:

Sabine Hossenfelder @skdh
Just a reminder that what Einstein referred to as "spooky action at a distance" was not entanglement but the non-local update (aka "collapse") of the wave-function. Entanglement is a non-local correlation but it's locally created, there is nothing "spooky" about it.

Why do I say this? B/c Einstein in his first arguments about the spooky action didn't use entangled particles. He used a single particle whose wave-function spreads in space & that is then then measured in one point, which instantaneously (non-locally) collapse the wave-function.

She is correct. The clip is from the NY Times, which used to idolize Einstein and endorse whatever he was doing.

Articles about quantum mechanics go on and on about spookiness, paradoxes, non-reality, incomprehensibility, etc. My complaint about this is that they are often telling about things that would be true in any theory.

In classical mechanics, two particles can have a common origin, and so measurements of them will be correlated. That is what entanglement is. Also classical Bayesian inference requires updating distributions and probabilities. That is essentially the same as collapse of the wave function.

You will say that QM is different because Bell proved that the quantum correlations are higher. They can be 80% instead of 75%. Yes, but this is a pretty subtle difference, and not worthy of all the hyped nonsense. It is not the difference between reality and non-reality.

There is a lot of confusion about entanglement. Schroedinger coined the term, and said it was the essence of quantum mechanics. He is also known for his famous cat, which illustrates superposition can collapse, but not entanglement. Superposition also has classical analogues, as in any theory that says two outcomes are possible.

Scientific American reports:

The Universe Is Not Locally Real, and the Physics Nobel Prize Winners Proved It

Elegant experiments with entangled light have laid bare a profound mystery at the heart of reality

One of the more unsettling discoveries in the past half century is that the universe is not locally real. “Real,” meaning that objects have definite properties independent of observation — an apple can be red even when no one is looking; “local” means objects can only be influenced by their surroundings, and that any influence cannot travel faster than light. Investigations at the frontiers of quantum physics have found that these things cannot both be true. Instead, the evidence shows objects are not influenced solely by their surroundings and they may also lack definite properties prior to measurement. As Albert Einstein famously bemoaned to a friend, “Do you really believe the moon is not there when you are not looking at it?”

This is, of course, deeply contrary to our everyday experiences. To paraphrase Douglas Adams, the demise of local realism has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.

Blame for this achievement has now been laid squarely on the shoulders of three physicists: John Clauser, Alain Aspect and Anton Zeilinger. They equally split the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics “for experiments with entangled photons, establishing the violation of Bell inequalities and pioneering quantum information science.”

Note that the Nobel citation is for experimental work, and not for any views or conclusions about quantum foundations, reality, or locality.

It is just wrong to say "evidence shows objects are not influenced solely by their surroundings and they may also lack definite properties prior to measurement." The Nobel committee did not say anything like that. All evidence is that objects are influenced solely by their surroundings. No evidence for action-at-a-distance has ever been found.

The Heisenberg uncertainty principle says that you cannot measure an electron's position and momentum at the same time. So you could say that it lack definite values for position and momentum  prior to measurement. But that is all. The electron still has properties before measurement.

Physicists skeptical of quantum mechanics proposed that there were “hidden variables,” factors that existed in some imperceptible level of reality beneath the subatomic realm that contained information about a particle’s future state. They hoped in hidden-variable theories, nature could recover the local realism denied to it by quantum mechanics.

“One would have thought that the arguments of Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen would produce a revolution at that moment, and everybody would have started working on hidden variables,” Popescu says. ...

The lack of interest was driven in part because John von Neumann, a highly regarded scientist, had in 1932 published a mathematical proof ruling out hidden-variable theories.

No. Quantum mechanics had been spectacularly successful in 1930, and von Neumann had a seemingly convincing argument that hidden variable theories were impossible as an alternative. EPR had some philosophical objections based on Elements of Physical Reality. Some say that is what EPR really stands for. Nobody cared at the time because everyone was convinced that quantum mechanics was right and hidden variable theories were wrong.

Now you could say that the hidden variable theories were not truly ruled out until Bell proved his theorem in 1964, the Bell test exst experiments were done in the 1980s, and the Nobel Prize was awarded in 2022. Okay, now one can truly say that the local hidden variable thoeries are wrong.

But this is not news. The conventional wisdom in 1932 was that they were wrong.

So what does any of this have to do with reality and locality? Nothing. It has been known since the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle of 1926 that measurements must be made to get definite values for observables. If that causes you to make a philosophical comment about the world not being real, you could have said that in 1926.

I don't disagree with the Nobel for Clauser et al, since it was specifically given narrowly for experimental work. They did some fine experiments confirming existing knowledge. But they did not prove anything about reality, locality, foundations, information, cryptology, or quantum computation. And the Nobel committee pointedly avoided saying that they did.

A lot of people have been pushing for a Bell Test Nobel Prize for decades, because they wanted an official endorsement of the goofy ideas in the above SciAm article. But no, the Swedes did not do that.

Update: Here is more craziness from SciAm:

Normally, hidden-variable theories and quantum mechanics predict indistinguishable experimental outcomes. What Bell realized is that under precise circumstances, an empirical discrepancy between the two can emerge.
No, that is wrong. Normally hidden variable theories have the observables commute, and there is no Heisenberg Uncertainty. Quantum mechanics from 1926 was premised on noncommuting observables, and the consequential Heisenberg Uncertainty. From that point on, no one, except maybe Einstein and a few other stubborn resistors, thought that hidden variables could be consistent with QM.

As it turned out, Bohm showed that nonlocal hidden variables might be consistent with QM. But nonlocal variables were spooky and unrealistic, and no one wanted them, not even Einstein.

In 1967, John Clauser, then a graduate student at Columbia University, accidentally stumbled across a library copy of Bell’s paper and became enthralled by the possibility of proving hidden-variable theories correct. ...

Unfortunately for Clauser and his infatuation with hidden variables, once he and Freedman completed their analysis, they could not help but conclude that they had found strong evidence against them.

That's right. Clauser was out to prove QM wrong. The whole point of the Bell test experiments was to disprove QM. They could win a Nobel Prize for that, but not for confirming what everyone already knew.

There are physicists doing wonderful experiments testing whether energy and momentum are conserved. If they ever find a violation of a conservation law, they will be big heroes for discovering a new phenomenon. But they do not win any prizes for just confirming known laws.

What Bell tests allow physicists to do is remove the bias of anthropocentric aesthetic judgments from the equation; purging from their work the parts of human cognition that recoil at the possibility of eerily inexplicable entanglement, or that scoff at hidden-variable theories as just more debates over how many angels may dance on the head of a pin. The award honors Clauser, Aspect and Zeilinger, but it is testament to all the researchers who were unsatisfied with superficial explanations about quantum mechanics, and who asked their questions even when doing so was unpopular.
Wow, I don't even know what this is saying. It was never unpopular to do an experiment confirming QM. And purging the bias of human cognition? That is just nuts.

We have a trillion dollar semiconductor and laser industry founded on QM. The theory is not wrong. I just read somewhere that the world now makes 20 trillion transistors every second. They are understood with QM. The Bell test experiments are nice, but they did not tell us anything new.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Brian Greene Explains the Nobel Prize

Physicist Brian Greene explains in a 7 minute video:
#QuantumEntanglement #nobelprize #BrianGreene
The 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to Alain Aspect, John Clauser and Anton Zeilinger for their groundbreaking work in Quantum Entanglement. Here is a brief visual summary of the essential physics.
Greene is usually a good explainer, but this does not explain the award well.

z He spends the first couple of minutes arguing that Newtonian mechanics is deterministic, white quantum mechanics is not. I dont think this has anything to do with the Bell test work.

At 4:50, he says that a measurement on one particle can have an instantaneous effect on a distant particle. This is false. Any experimental proof of this would have immediate Nobel prizes.

He says that Einstein wrote a 1935 paper arguing that QM cannot be the whole story. And this Nobel prize winning work addresses that. But Greene does not explain whether the work proved Einstein right or wrong.

Einstein implied that he preferred a local hidden variable theory. The Bell test experiments prove that impossible, so they prove Einstein wrong. Greene says Einstein also wanted a non-probabilistic theory, although that is not so clear from the paper.

I guess Greene is trying to say that Einstein rejected mainstream thinking in 1935, and this prize is for work showing that the mainstream thinking was correct.

But dozens of Nobel prizes have been given for quantum mechanics, so why give another one now?

Greene answer seems to be that the prize work proved action-at-a-distance. It does not.

Nobel Prize for Bell Test Experiments

It has long been argued that John Stewart Bell deserved a Nobel prize for work he did in the 1960s. A prize has now been given for experiments testing his theorem:
Alain Aspect, John Clauser and Anton Zeilinger have each conducted groundbreaking experiments using entangled quantum states, where two particles behave like a single unit even when they are separated. Their results have cleared the way for new technology based upon quantum information. ...

For a long time, the question was whether the correlation was because the particles in an entangled pair contained hidden variables, instructions that tell them which result they should give in an experiment. In the 1960s, John Stewart Bell developed the mathematical inequality that is named after him. This states that if there are hidden variables, the correlation between the results of a large number of measurements will never exceed a certain value. However, quantum mechanics predicts that a certain type of experiment will violate Bell’s inequality, thus resulting in a stronger correlation than would otherwise be possible.

It was not much of a question. John von Neumann and others convinced everyone that it was impossible in 1931.

These Bell test experiments proved that quantum mechanics could not be replaced by a classical theory. Some say that they are the most profound results in all of science, but they really just confirm what was discovered around 1930.

Bell, Clauser, and others were hoping to disprove QM. That certainly would have been a big deal, but the experiments only confirmed QM.

Many others say that the experiments proved that the world is random and nonlocal, and showed the possibility of quantum cryptography and quantum computing. The Nobel citation conspicuously avoids endorsing any of these ideas.

Indeed, the overwhelming empirical evidence in the realms of atomic and optical physics was, to most practitioners, confirmation of the potent predictive power of quantum mechanics. Thus, to them, the experiments of Clauser and Aspect came as no surprise. Others saw them as fundamental discoveries about the nature of physical reality, providing an ultimate verification of quantum mechanics in a regime that is far removed from classical laws and reasoning.

This year’s Nobel prize is for experimental work.

Just for experimental work, and not for any philosophical ramblings about locality or randomness or reality.

It does acknowledge several researsch topics:

Today, quantum technology refers to a very broad range of research and development. As an illustration we mention that the EU financed Quantum Technology Flagship [30] lists four main areas: quantum computing, quantum simulation, quantum communication and quantum metrology and sensing. In all of these areas quantum entanglement plays a fundamental role. This is an inappropriate venue to survey this vast landscape of innovative research.
But no prize for this stuff. It only says that Bell test experiments could make quantum key distribution more secure. Maybe so, but it is hard to see how QKD could ever be as secure as the non-quantum methods that are used all over the world today.

Here is the NY Times account:

The laureates’ research builds on the work of John Stewart Bell, a physicist who strove in the 1960s to understand whether particles, having flown too far apart for there to be normal communication between them, can still function in concert, also known as quantum entanglement.

According to quantum mechanics, particles can exist simultaneously in two or more places. They do not take on formal properties until they are measured or observed in some way. By taking measurements of one particle, like its position or “spin,” a change is observed in its partner, no matter how far away it has traveled from its pair.

No, QM does not teach that a particle can exist in two places at once. That is just an interpretation. And no, measuring an entangled particle does not cause a change to be observed in its partner. That is nonlocality spookiness that the Nobel citation managed to avoid. There is no action-at-a-distance.

Measuring one particle can affect what is predicted about the other. That is called entanglement. It is also true about classical (non-quantum) systems. The difference is the strength of the correlation. That is what Bell showed.

Bell later falsely claimed that he proved nonlocality. The Nobel citation politely avoids mentioning this.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Prize for Discoverying Neantherthal Ancestry

The Nobel Prize folks announced:
The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet has today decided to award the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Svante Pääbo for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution

Humanity has always been intrigued by its origins. Where do we come from, and how are we related to those who came before us? What makes us, Homo sapiens, different from other hominins?

Through his pioneering research, Svante Pääbo accomplished something seemingly impossible: sequencing the genome of the Neanderthal, an extinct relative of present-day humans. He also made the sensational discovery of a previously unknown hominin, Denisova. Importantly, Pääbo also found that gene transfer had occurred from these now extinct hominins to Homo sapiens following the migration out of Africa around 70,000 years ago. This ancient flow of genes to present-day humans has physiological relevance today, for example affecting how our immune system reacts to infections.

That last sentence was probably thrown in to justify giving this award in "Physiology or Medicine". They don't usually give awards in archeology or paleontology.

Paabo discovered that modern non-African humans are descended from Neanderthals. So why do they keep calling the Neanderthals "extinct"? Neanderthals were thought to be extinct before Paabo, but the DNA evidence proved that Neanderthals mated with other hominins, resulting in today's humans. Neanderthals are no more extinct than the other hominin ancestors.

The wording is so strange. Saying "gene transfer had occurred from these now extinct hominins to Homo sapiens" is like saying, "gene transfer occurred from the now extinct Spanish Conquistadors to humans in the Aztec empire. The conquistadors were human also.They mated and had offspring.  

You could say that we have more DNA in common with the Africans than the Neanderthal, so it is more appropriate to call the Africans the homo sapiens. Your Neanderthal DNA is about the same as that of your great-great-great-grandfather.

But the Neanderthals had big brains, and there is no evidence that the Africans were any smarter. Maybe interbreeding resulted in humans smarter than either group. The Neanderthals had brow ridges, but I don't think that made them sub-human.

The Nobel folks are not the only ones who badmouth Neanderthals. A lot of others do also. I think it used to be done in order to preserve some Adam and Eve Out of Africa story. But Paabo proved that Neanderthal were human ancestors about ten years ago, so the story needs to be updated.

The Physics prize went for Bell test experiments. More on this later.

Monday, October 3, 2022

Einstein did not Accept Geometric Relativity in 1911

From a new paper:
When A. Einstein realized, in 1907, the incompatibility of his ideas with the Newtonian's concepts about gravity he tried to reconcile his ideas with the special relativity and find out a new form to treat gravity using the equivalent principle as a light. Even when H. Minkowski found the geometry meaning of the Lorentz transformation A. Einstein did not use it at all in 1911.
The paper is mainly about Einstein's 1911 assumption that gravity alters the speed of light. This assumption was later abandoned.

The author is trying to credit Einstein with good ideas, not undermine him. But look at what this says.

Everybody knew in 1907 that relativity was inconsistent with gravity. H. Poincare wrote a famous paper in 1905 proposing a relativistic theory of gravity. I think H. Lorentz did also. If Einstein just realized it in 1907, it is because it took him two years to understand from others.

Relativity caught on big after Minkowski published his geometric version in 1907, referencing Poincare's 1905 version. It is that geometric version that is in use today, not Einstein's version. But note that four years later, in 1911, Einstein was still rejecting it.

I wrote a book about this. See this blog post, for more about how Einstein rejected geometric relativity. When someone credited Einstein with a geometrical interpretation, Einstein published a letter in 1911 denying it.

It is baffling how anyone could credit Einstein for special relativity, or for recognizing the need for a relativistic theory of gravity. As you can see, he was well behind others.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are Not Enough

Social Pscyhology professor Jonathan Haidt writes:
I was going to attend the annual conference in Atlanta next February to present some research with colleagues on a new and improved version of the Moral Foundations Questionnaire. I was surprised to learn about a new rule: In order to present research at the conference, all social psychologists are now required to submit a statement explaining “whether and how this submission advances the equity, inclusion, and anti-racism goals of SPSP.” Our research proposal would be evaluated on older criteria of scientific merit, along with this new criterion.

These sorts of mandatory diversity statements have been proliferating across the academy in recent years. ...

The SPSP mandate, however, forced us all to do something more explicitly ideological. Note that the word diversity was dropped and replaced by anti-racism. So every psychologist who wants to present at the most important convention in our field must now say how their work advances anti-racism. I read Ibram X. Kendi’s book How to Be an Antiracist in the summer of 2020, so I knew that I could no longer stay silent. 

Diversity is not enough anymore. Now it has to be anti-racist.

The word anti-racist is defined by Kendi's book. It means anti-White hatred. See the book for yourself. He is very much against eqaal opportunity, non-discrimination, and other such liberal values. He wants to promote Blacks, and demote Whites, so that Blacks will achieve cultural and economic superiority.

This is crackpot anti-White stuff, and it has taken over academia.

I predicted that “the conflict between truth and social justice is likely to become unmanageable … Universities that try to honor both will face increasing incoherence and internal conflict.” It’s now six years later, and I think it’s clear that this prediction has come true.
Universities are going into a decline.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

NewScientist Magazine is Against Free Speech

Left-wing science journals are now opposed to free speech. From a NewScientist article:
It turns out that information overload is just as toxic to democracy as censorship is. We need to chuck out the US myth that bad speech can be “cured” with more speech. Without moderation, ground rules for debate and thoughtful regulation in our digital public squares, it is impossible for us to reach agreement on anything.
Wow. When does Science ever require that we reach agreement?

There is no consensus on covid-19, global warming, causes of crime, or the interpretation of quantum mechanics. Nor should there be. The vaccine might be good for you, and not someone else.

Nor does democracy require consensus. Democracy is rule by a 51% majority.

It is increasingly clear that the Left wants to impose its program on everyone, with no dissent. Allowing free speech to express alternative views will wreck their plans.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Anti-White Propaganda Creeps into Physics Journals

Here is a new anti-White Physics education paper that is absurd as it looks:
Observing whiteness in introductory physics: A case study

Authors’ positionalities.—Robertson is a chronically ill and disabled, physics-Ph.D.-holding, thin wealthy white woman. Her analysis and writing were shaped by these identities, including her “insider” status in physics: because of her socialization in the discipline, she is able to name and make sense of physics values, representa- tions, and practices.

For most of Robertson’s life, whiteness (including whiteness as social organization) has been invisible to her; this invisibility is rooted in part in the hegemony of whiteness and in Robertson’s position of power within white-dominant culture [36,51]. Her efforts to “make whiteness visible” in the writing of this paper, then, reflect her position as a learner and as a white person; in writing this paper, she is sharing her in-progress learning, as someone who is waking up to the world as it is, with gratitude for the support of Friends, Scholars, and Activists of Color. Her position as a learner about whiteness has been deeply informed by her own marginalization and oppres- sion as a chronically ill person.

It was funded by the National Science Foundation. Watch this excellent video mocking it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Superdeterminism does not Save Locality

A new paper argues:
This paper addresses a particular interpretation of quantum mechanics, i.e. superdeterminism. In short, superdeterminism i) takes the world to be fundamentally deterministic, ii) postulates hidden variables, and iii) contra Bell, saves locality at the cost of violating the principle of statistical independence. Superdeterminism currently enjoys little support in the physics and philosophy communities. Many take it to posit the ubiquitous occurrence of hard-to-digest conspiratorial and coincidental events; others object that violating the principle of statistical independence implies the death of the scientific methodology.
This paper is really misguided. First, superdeterminism is not an interpretation of quantum mechanics. As you can see, it is not listed as such on the Wikipedia page. The premise of superdeterminism is that QM is wrong. It only appears correct in some cases, because we cannot properly test it.

Second, superdeterminism does not save locality. QM is local, while superdeterminism requies nonlocal conspiracies.

Bell’s theorem is almost universally considered as conclusively showing that nature is fundamentally non-local. ...

If so, Bell’s argument shows once and for all that no local hidden variables are possible and that nature is fundamentally non-local. Or so the vast majority believes.

Superdeterminism offers an alternative approach to this. In a nutshell, superdeterminism amounts to an attempt to save locality despite Bell’s experiment.

No, competent physicists do not believe that. Bell's argument shows that a classical hteory of local hidden variables cannot explain the predictions of QM. That leaves two obvious possibilites. Nature could be nonlocal classical, or local quantum.

Local quantum is what everybody believes, and what the textbooks say. You only get nonlocality if you insist on pre-1925 classical mechanics.

To justify the superdeterminism conspiracies, it invokes time travel arguments.

As it is well known in the time travel literature, time travel cannot result in changes in the past (see, among others, Lewis 1976 and Arntzenius and Maudlin 2002). Suppose a time traveler travels back in time and tries to kill his younger self. We know the time traveler will not succeed, or else contradictions will ensue. For if the time traveler kills his younger self (and we bar resurrection), he will not grow up to later jump back in time and kill his younger self. Even if time travel were possible, autoinfanticide by exploiting time travel is not.4 Time travelers who attempt to kill their younger selves will fail. Why do they fail? The standard answer in the literature is that they would fail for ordinary reasons: a sudden change of heart, the bullet will surprisingly miss the target, a bird would just pass through and stop the bullet, failure of nerves, or (famously) the time traveler would slip on a banana peel. In an interesting twist, Horwich (1987, ch. 7) discusses a thought experiment devised to cast some doubts on this idea. What would happen, so goes the thought experiment, if a future Time Travel Institute for Autoinfanticide were to send back in time thousands of time travelers attempting to kill their younger selves. Despite (we can imagine) their training, their loaded weapons, their strong motivations, and the easy unprotected targets, they would all fail---for autoinfanticide is impossible. A big series of coincidences must be guaranteed to happen to stop their attempts.
So if a big series of coincidences can stop you from kill yourself when you travel back in time, then then could also make QM appear to be true when it is really false.

No experiment can tell you what is going on, because the superdeterminist rejects it.

The third argument against superdeterminism that is voiced by authors as Shimony et al. (1976), Maudlin (2019), Baas and Le Bihan (2021), and Chen (2021), boils down to the idea that the enterprise of doing science would not be possible in a superdeterministic world. Maudlin (cited by Chen 2021) phrases it this way (2019):
“If we fail to make this sort of statistical independence assumption, empirical science can no longer be done at all. For example, the observed strong robust correlation between mice being exposed to cigarette smoke and developing cancer in controlled experiments means nothing if the mice who are already predisposed to get cancer somehow always end up in the experimental rather than control group. But we would regard that hypothesis as crazy.”
Again, the idea is that experimental science is only possible if our choices of testing conditions are independent of the physical properties that determine experimental outcomes – an assumption violated by superdeterminism.
That is all correct. But this paper goes on to advocate superdeterminism, because it is supposed to be a way of saving locality from Bell's argument.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Man has Not Even an Illusion of Free Will

Here is a comment from a leftist-atheist-evolutionist blog. Somehow it keeps coming back to denying will.

I’ve never understood the idea, expressed by both compatibilists and incompatibilists, that “it feels like we have free will,” or that “we have the illusion of free will.” Never mind the fact that the concept of “free will” seems only to be found in W.E.I.R.D. cultures, and seems mostly tied to monotheistic theology; I find that my own lack of free will is powerfully salient in the manifest image. To me it feels like my thoughts, including decisions and choices, just appear in my brain. When I pay close attention, when I carefully observe what is actually going on, I get no sense whatsoever that I conjured up these thoughts. They seem thrust upon me and I sometimes even wish them away to no avail.

I don’t think I am alone here. There is plenty of evidence all throughout our language that everyone notices our complete lack of free will. “She made me laugh” or “he made me cry” or “I fell in love” or “it made me sad” or “I was overcome with joy.” Consider the extent to which all of your decisions and choices are based on what makes you laugh, cry, love, or become depressed. If you examine our language it appears that the reality of determinism, at least biological determinism, is more than just an accepted fact. It seems like everyone knows it with virtual certainty.

Consider the moment in the restaurant when you are looking at the menu and you’ve read all of the items but it still takes you a while to male a choice because you “can’t decide’ what you want. You are waiting for your determined unconscious to make that decision for you. If you had free will you’d decide right away. In this moment you should “feel” and notice your lack of free will. You shouldn’t need physics or biology to point it out to you.

When people say “we feel like we have free will” I don’t know what they mean. I don’t feel that way at all. To the extent that I ever felt like I had “free will” I would blame it on my W.E.I.R.D. upbringing and I would be thankful that I eventually noticed it wasn’t true and got over it.

I have also never understood any of the proposed downsides to accepting determinism. Life is like watching a movie or riding a rollercoaster. The fact that you are not driving takes nothing away from the thrill and meaning of the experience. Relax and enjoy the ride. Of course I know that you can’t just decide to relax and enjoy the ride, but I hope that me saying these things will help determined you to do just that.

St. Augustine was a great proponent of free will and while you might class his society as Western, it was not educated, industrialized, rich, or democratic.
It is amazing to me that he has no feeling of free will. Sam Harris says something similar.

On the last point, W.E.I.R.D. is a euphemism for White Christian culture. The claim is that other cultures do not appreciate free will. White Christians are the only ones who are fully conscious.

If he says he does not feel free will, then I believe him, but it is like saying he follows voices in his head. It is a symptom of schizophrenia.

Another comment:

I don’t think it’s quite right to call the Everettian (many-worlds) interpretation of quantum mechanics either pseudoscience or religion, even if it’s untestable in principle. A better term might be something along the lines of “coherent conjecture”, or “theoretical extrapolation”.

One associates pseudoscience with preposterous “theories” like astrology, psychokinesis, or clairvoyance. It’s neither accurate nor fair to put the many-worlds hypothesis in the same group. And it’s less appropriate still to equate it to religious beliefs, which tend to be even more preposterous.

Whether you agree with him or not, Sean Carroll can cogently explain why he thinks the many-worlds interpretation is a coherent and sensible inference, something that neither an astrologer nor the pope could do to defend their beliefs. That difference would be lost if we labeled Carroll’s position “pseudoscientific” or “religious”. One could even be induced to think him, in this respect at least, a charlatan or a religious nut, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

No, Sean M. Carroll cannot cogently explain many-worlds. I have heard him try, and there is nothing scientific at all. The more I listen to him, the more I am convinced that he has a fundamentally anti-scientific worldview.

Here is also a recent Michael Shermer interview of Sabine Hossenfelder, where she denies free will at the end.