Our quantum problem

When the deepest theory we have seems to undermine science itself, some kind of collapse looks inevitable

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‘On this view, a dust grain is actually a little galaxy of collapse points, winking instantaneously in and out of existence’

‘On this view, a dust grain is actually a little galaxy of collapse points, winking instantaneously in and out of existence’

Adrian Kent is a reader in quantum physics at the University of Cambridge. His latest book is Many Worlds? (2010), co-edited with Simon Saunders, Jonathan Barrett and David Wallace.

In 1909, Ernest Rutherford, Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden took a piece of radium and used it to fire charged particles at a sheet of gold foil. They wanted to test the then-dominant theory that atoms were simply clusters of electrons floating in little seas of positive electrical charge (the so-called ‘plum pudding’ model). What came next, said Rutherford, was ‘the most incredible event that has ever happened to me in my life’.

Despite the airy thinness of the foil, a small fraction of the particles bounced straight back at the source – a result, Rutherford noted, ‘as incredible as if you fired a 15-inch shell at a piece of tissue paper and it came back and hit you’. Instead of whooshing straight through the thin soup of electrons that should have been all that hovered in their path, the particles had encountered something solid enough to push back. Something was wrong with matter. Somewhere, reality had departed from the best available model. But where?

The first big insight came from Rutherford himself. He realised that, if the structure of the atom were to permit collisions of the magnitude that his team had observed, its mass must be concentrated in a central nucleus, with electrons whirling around it. Could such a structure be stable? Why didn’t the electrons just spiral into the centre, leaking electromagnetic radiation as they fell?

Such concerns prompted the Danish physicist Niels Bohr to formulate a rather oddly rigid model of the atom, using artificial-seeming rules about electron orbits and energy levels to keep everything in order. It was ugly but it seemed to work. Then, in 1924, a French aristocrat and physicist named Louis de Broglie argued that Bohr’s model would make more sense if we assumed that the electrons orbiting the atomic nucleus (and indeed everything else that had hitherto been considered a particle) either came with, or in some sense could behave like, waves.

If Bohr’s atom had seemed a little arbitrary, de Broglie’s improved version was almost incomprehensible. Physical theory might have recovered some grip on reality but it seemed to have decisively parted company from common sense. And yet, as Albert Einstein said on reading de Broglie’s thesis, here was ‘the first feeble ray of light on this worst of our physics enigmas’. By 1926, these disparate intuitions and partial models were already unified into a new mathematical theory called quantum mechanics. Within a few years, the implications for chemistry, spectroscopy and nuclear physics were being confirmed.

It was clear from the start that quantum theory challenged all our previous preconceptions about the nature of matter and how it behaves, and indeed about what science can possibly – even in principle – say about these questions. Over the years, this very slipperiness has made it irresistible to hucksters of various descriptions. I regularly receive ads offering to teach me how to make quantum jumps into alternate universes, tap into my infinite quantum self-energy, and make other exciting-sounding excursions from the plane of reason and meaning. It’s worth stressing, then, that the theory itself is both mathematically precise and extremely well confirmed by experiment.

Quantum mechanics has correctly predicted the outcomes of a vast range of investigations, from the scattering of X-rays by crystals to the discovery of the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider. It successfully explains a vast range of natural phenomena, including the structure of atoms and molecules, nuclear fission and fusion, the way light interacts with matter, how stars evolve and shine, and how the elements forming the world around us were originally created.

Yet it puzzled many of its founders, including Einstein and Erwin Schrödinger, and it continues to puzzle physicists today. Einstein in particular never quite accepted it. ‘It seems hard to sneak a look at God’s cards,’ he wrote to a colleague, ‘but that he plays dice and uses “telepathic” methods (as the present quantum theory requires of him) is something that I cannot believe for a single moment.’ In a 1935 paper co-written with Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen, Einstein asked: ‘Can [the] Quantum-Mechanical Description of Physical Reality Be Considered Complete?’ He concluded that it could not. Given apparently sensible demands on what a description of physical reality must entail, it seemed that something must be missing. We needed a deeper theory to understand physical reality fully.

Einstein never found the deeper theory he sought. Indeed, later theoretical work by the Irish physicist John Bell and subsequent experiments suggested that the apparently reasonable demands of that 1935 paper could never be satisfied. Had Einstein lived to see this work, he would surely have agreed that his own search for a deeper theory of reality needed to follow a different path from the one he sketched in 1935.

Even so, I believe that Einstein would have remained convinced that a deeper theory was needed. None of the ways we have so far found of looking at quantum theory are entirely believable. In fact, it’s worse than that. To be ruthlessly honest, none of them even quite makes sense. But that might be about to change.

Here’s the basic problem. While the mathematics of quantum theory works very well in telling us what to expect at the end of an experiment, it seems peculiarly conceptually confusing when we try to understand what was happening during the experiment. To calculate what outcomes we might expect when we fire protons at one another in the Large Hadron Collider, we need to analyse what – at first sight – look like many different stories. The same final set of particles detected after a collision might have been generated by lots of different possible sequences of energy exchanges involving lots of different possible collections of particles. We can’t tell which particles were involved from the final set of detected particles.

Now, if the trouble was only that we have a list of possible ways that things could have gone in a given experiment and we can’t tell which way they actually went just by looking at the results, that wouldn’t be so puzzling. If you find some flowers at your front door and you’re not sure which of your friends left them there, you don’t start worrying that there are inconsistencies in your understanding of physical reality. You just reason that, of all the people who could have brought them, one of them presumably did. You don’t have a logical or conceptual problem, just a patchy record of events.

If you think this doesn’t make any sense, that there has to be something missing, well, that’s how many thoughtful physicists feel

Quantum theory isn’t like this, as far as we presently understand it. We don’t get a list of possible explanations for what happened, of which one (although we don’t know which) must be the correct one. We get a mathematical recipe that tells us to combine, in an elegant but conceptually mysterious way, numbers attached to each possible explanation. Then we use the result of this calculation to work out the likelihood of any given final result. But here’s the twist. Unlike the mathematical theory of probability, this quantum recipe requires us to make different possible stories cancel each other out, or fully or partially reinforce each other. This means that the net chance of an outcome arising from several possible stories can be more or less than the sum of the chances associated with each.

To get a sense of the conceptual mystery we face here, imagine you have three friends, John, Mary and Jo, who absolutely never talk to each other or interact in any other way. If any one of them is in town, there’s a one-in-four chance that this person will bring you flowers on any given day. (They’re generous and affectionate friends. They’re also entirely random and spontaneous – nothing about the particular choice of day affects the chance they might bring you flowers.) But if John and Mary are both in town, you know there’s no chance you’ll get any flowers that day – even though they never interact, so neither of them should have any idea whether the other one is around. And if Mary and Jo are both in town, you’ll certainly get exactly one bunch of flowers – again, even though Mary and Jo never interact either, and you’d have thought that if they’re acting independently, your chance of getting any flowers is a bit less than a half, while once in a while you should get two bunches.

If you think this doesn’t make any sense, that there has to be something missing from this flower delivery fable, well, that’s how many thoughtful physicists feel about quantum theory and our understanding of nature. Pretty precisely analogous things happen in quantum experiments.

One attempt to make sense of this situation – the so-called ‘Copenhagen interpretation’ of quantum theory, versions of which were advocated by Bohr, Werner Heisenberg and other leading quantum theorists in the first half of the last century – claims that quantum theory is teaching us something profound and final about the limits of what science can tell us. According to this approach, a scientific question makes sense only if we have a direct way of verifying the answer. So, asking what we’ll see in our particle detectors is a scientific question; asking what happened in the experiment before anything registered in our detectors isn’t, because we weren’t looking. To be looking, we’d have had to put detectors in the middle of the experiment, and then it would have been a different experiment. In trying to highlight the absurd-seeming consequences of this view, Schrödinger minted what has become its best-known popular icon – an imaginary experiment with a sealed box containing a cat that is simultaneously alive and dead, only resolving into one or other definite state when an experimenter opens the box.

The Copenhagen interpretation was very much in line with the scientific philosophy of logical positivism that caught on at around the same time. In particular, it rests on something like logical positivism’s principle of verification, according to which a scientific statement is meaningful only if we have some means of verifying its truth. To some of the founders of quantum theory, as well as to later adherents of the Copenhagen interpretation, this came to seem an almost self-evident description of the scientific process. Even after philosophers largely abandoned logical positivism – not least because the principle of verification fails its own test for meaningful statements – many physicists trained in the Copenhagen tradition insisted that their stance was no more than common sense.

However, its consequences are far from commonsensical. If you take this position seriously, then you have to accept that the Higgs boson wasn’t actually discovered at the Large Hadron Collider, since no one has ever directly detected a Higgs boson, and we have no direct evidence to support the claim that the Higgs boson is a real particle. Insofar as we learnt anything about nature from the Large Hadron Collider, it was merely what sort of records you get in your detectors when you build something like the Large Hadron Collider. It’s hard to imagine the scientists who work on it, or the citizens who funded them, being very enthusiastic about this justification, but on a strict Copenhagen view it’s the best we can do.

It gets worse. Quantum theory is supposed to describe the behaviour of elementary particles, atoms, molecules and every other form of matter in the universe. This includes us, our planet and, of course, the Large Hadron Collider. In that sense, everything since the Big Bang has been one giant quantum experiment, in which all the particles in the universe, including those we think of as making up the Earth and our own bodies, are involved. But if theory tells us we’re among the sets of particles involved a giant quantum experiment, the position I’ve just outlined tells us we can’t justify any statement about what has happened or is happening until the experiment is over. Only at the end, when we might perhaps imagine some technologically advanced alien experimenters in the future looking at the final state of the universe, can any meaningful statement be made.

Of course, this final observation will never happen. By definition, no one is sitting outside the universe waiting to observe the final outcome at the end of time. And even if the idea of observers waiting outside the universe made sense – which it doesn’t – on this view their final observations still wouldn’t allow them to say anything about what happened between the Big Bang and the end of time. We end up concluding that quantum theory doesn’t allow us to justify making any scientific statement at all about the past, present or future. Our most fundamental scientific theory turns out to be a threat to the whole enterprise of science. For these and related reasons, the Copenhagen interpretation gradually fell out of general favour.

Its great rival was first set out in a 1957 paper and Princeton PhD thesis written by one of the stranger figures in the history of 20th-century physics, Hugh Everett III. Rather unromantically, and very unusually for a highly original thinker and talented physicist, Everett abandoned theoretical physics after he had published his big idea. A good deal of his subsequent career was spent in military consultancy, advising the US on strategies for fighting and ‘winning’ a nuclear war against the USSR, and the bleakness of this chosen path presumably contributed to his chain-smoking, alcoholism and depression. Everett died of a heart attack at the age of 51; possibly we can infer something of his own ultimate assessment of his life’s worth from the fact that he instructed his wife to throw his ashes in the trash. And yet, despite his detachment from academic life (some might say from all of life), Everett’s PhD work eventually became enormously influential.

One way of thinking about his ideas on quantum theory is that our difficulties in getting a description of quantum reality arise from a tension between the mathematics – which, as we have seen, tells us to make calculations involving many different possible stories about what might have really happened – and the apparently incontrovertible fact that, at the end of an experiment, we see that only one thing actually did happen. This led Everett to ask a question that seems at first sight stupid, but which turns out to be very deep: how do we know that we only get one outcome to a quantum experiment? What if we take the hint from the mathematics and consider a picture of reality in which many different things actually do happen – everything, in fact, that quantum theory allows? And what if we take this to its logical conclusion and accept the same view of cosmology, so that all the different possible histories of the evolution of the universe are realised? We end up, Everett argued, with what became known as a ‘many worlds’ picture of reality, one in which it is constantly forming new branches describing alternative – but equally real – future continuations of the same present state.

On this view, every time any of us does a quantum experiment with several possible outcomes, all those outcomes are enacted in different branches of reality, each of which contains a copy of our self whose memories are identical up to the start of experiment, but each of whom sees different results. None of these future selves has any special claim to be the real one. They are all equally real – genuine but distinct successors of the person who started the experiment. The same picture holds true more generally in cosmology: alongside the reality we currently habit, there are many others in which the history of the universe and our planet was ever so slightly different, many more in which humanity exists on Earth but the course of human history was significantly different from ours, and many more still in which nothing resembling Earth or its inhabitants can be found.

On another paper addressing the same issue, Everett’s comment was the single word ‘bullshit’

This might sound like unbelievable science fiction. To such a gibe, Everett and his followers would reply that science has taught us many things that seemed incredible at first. Other critics object that the ‘many worlds’ scenario seems like an absurdly extravagant and inelegant hypothesis. Trying to explain the appearance of one visible reality by positing an infinite collection of invisible ones might seem the most deserving candidate in the history of science for a sharp encounter with Occam’s razor. But to this, too, Everettians have an answer: given the mathematics of quantum theory, on which everyone agrees, their proposal is actually the simplest option. The many worlds are there in the equations. To eliminate them you have to add something new, or else change them – and we don’t have any experimental evidence telling us that something should be added or that the equations need changing.

Everettians might have a point, then, when they argue that their ideas deserve a hearing. The problem is that, from Everett and his early followers onwards, they have never managed to agree on a clear story about how exactly this picture of branching worlds is supposed to emerge from the fundamental equations of quantum theory, and how this single world that we see, with experimental outcomes that are apparently random but which follow definite statistical laws, might then be explained. One of the blackly funny revelations in Peter Byrne’s biography The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III (2010) was the discovery of Everett’s personal copy of the classic text The Many‑Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, put together in 1973 by the distinguished American physicist Bryce DeWitt and a few of Everett’s other early supporters. To DeWitt’s mild criticism that ‘Everett’s original derivation [of probabilities]… is rather too brief to be entirely satisfying’, Everett scribbled in the margins ‘Only to you!’ and ‘Goddamit [sic] you don’t see it’. On another paper addressing the same issue, his comment was the single word ‘bullshit’. Although generally in more civil terms, Everettians have continued to argue over this and related points ever since.

Indeed, the big unresolved, and seemingly unsolvable, problem here is how statistical laws can possibly emerge at all when the Everettian meta-picture of branching worlds has no randomness in it. If we do an experiment with an uncertain outcome, Everett’s proposal says that everything that could possibly happen (including the very unlikely outcomes) will in fact take place. It’s possible that Everettians can sketch some explanation of why it seems to ‘us’ (really, to any one of our many future successors) that ‘we’ see only one outcome. But that only replaces ‘everything will actually happen’ with ‘anything could seem to happen to us’ – which is still neither a quantitative nor a falsifiable scientific statement. To do science, we need to able to test statements such as ‘there’s a one-in-three chance X will happen to us’ and ‘it’s incredibly unlikely that Y will happen to us’ – but it isn’t at all obvious that Everett’s ideas support any such statements.

Everettians continue to devote much ingenuity to deriving statements involving probabilities from the underlying deterministic many-worlds picture. One idea lately advocated by David Deutsch and David Wallace of the University of Oxford is to try to use decision theory, the area of mathematics that concerns rational decision-making, to explain how rational people should behave if they believe they are in a branching universe. Deutsch and Wallace start from a few purportedly simple and natural technical assumptions about the preferences one should have in a branching world and then claim to show that rational Everettians should behave as though they were in an uncertain probabilistic world following the statistical laws of quantum theory, even though they believe their true situation is very different.

One problem with this line of thought is that the assumptions turn out not to seem especially natural, or even properly defined, on close inspection. The easiest way to understand this is to look for rationally defensible strategies for life in a branching universe other than the ones Deutsch and Wallace advocate. One example I rather like (because it makes the point succinctly, not because it seems morally attractive) is that of future self elitism, which counsels us to focus only on the welfare of our most fortunate and successful future successor, perhaps on the premise that our best possible future self is our truest self. Future self elitists don’t worry about the odds of a particular bet, only about the best possible payoff. Thus they violate Deutsch and Wallace’s axioms, but it is hard to see any purely logical argument against their decisions.

Another issue is that, as several critics have pointed out, whatever one thinks of Deutsch and Wallace’s proposed rational strategy, it answers a subtly different question to the one that Everettians were supposed to be addressing. The question ‘What bets should I be happy to place on the outcomes of a given experiment, given that I believe in Everettian many-worlds?’ is certainly a question that relates something we normally try to answer using probabilities with the many-worlds picture. In that sense, it makes some sort of connection between probabilities and many worlds – and since we’ve seen how hard that is to achieve, it’s easy to understand why Everettians (at least initially) are enthusiastic about this accomplishment. But, unfortunately, it’s not the sort of connection we need. The key scientific question is why the experimental evidence for quantum theory justifies a belief in many worlds in the first place. Many Everettians – from Everett and DeWitt onwards – have tried to give a satisfactory answer to this. Many critics (myself included) appreciate the cunning of their attempts but think they have all failed.

If we cannot get a coherent story about physical reality from the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory and we cannot get a scientifically adequate one from many-worlds theory, where do we turn? We could, as some physicists suggest, simply give up on the hope of finding any description of an objective external reality. But it is very hard to see how to do this without also giving up on science. The hypothesis that our universe began from something like a Big Bang, our account of the evolution of galaxies and stars, the formation of the elements and of planets and all of chemistry, biology, physics, archaeology, palaeontology and indeed human history – all rely on propositions about real observer-independent facts and events. Once we assume the existence of an external world that changes over time, these interrelated propositions form a logically coherent set; chemistry depends on cosmology, evolution on chemistry, history on evolution and so on. Without that assumption, it is very hard to see how one might make sense of any of these disciplines, let alone see a unifying picture that underlies them all and explains their deep interrelations and mutual dependence.

If we can’t allow the statement that dinosaurs really walked the Earth, what meaningful content could biology, palaeontology or Darwinian evolution actually have? It’s even harder to understand why the statement seems to give such a concise explanation of many things we’ve noticed about the world, from the fossil record to (we think) the present existence of birds, if it’s actually just a meaningless fiction. Similarly, if we can’t say that water molecules really contain one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms – or at least that something about reality that supports this model – then what, if anything, is chemistry telling us?

Physics poses many puzzles, and the focus of the physics community shifts over time. Most theoretical physicists today do not work on this question about what really happens in quantum experiments. Among those who think about it at all, many hope that we can find a way of thinking about quantum theory in which reality somehow evaporates or never arises. That seems like wishful thinking to me.

The alternative, as John Bell recognised earlier and more clearly than almost all of his contemporaries, is to accept that quantum theory cannot be a complete fundamental theory of nature. (As mentioned above, Einstein also believed this, though at least partly because of arguments that Bell was instrumental in refuting.)

we need to supplement our quantum equations with quantities that correspond directly to real events or things – real ‘stuff’ in the world

Bell was one of the last century’s deepest thinkers about science. As he put it, quantum theory ‘carries in itself the seeds of its own destruction’: it undermines the account of reality that it needs in order to make any sense as a physical theory. On this view, which was once as close to heresy as a scientific argument can be but is now widely held among scientists who work on the foundations of physics, the reality problem is just not solvable within quantum theory as it stands. And so, along with the variables that describe potentialities and possibilities, we need to supplement our quantum equations with quantities that correspond directly to real events or things – real ‘stuff’ in the world.

Bell coined the term beables to refer to these elusive missing ingredients. ‘Beable’ is an ugly word but a useful concept. It denotes variables that are able to ‘be’ in the world – hence the name. And indeed it turns out that we can extend quantum theory to include beables that would directly describe the sort of reality we actually see. Some of the most interesting work in fundamental physics in the past few decades has been in the search for new theories that agree with quantum theory in its predictions to date, but which include a beable description of reality, and so give us a profoundly different fundamental picture of the world.

What sort of quantities might do the trick? One early idea comes from Louis de Broglie, whom we met earlier, and David Bohm, an American theoretical physicist who fled McCarthyite persecution and spent most of his career at the University of London. The essence of their proposal is that, in addition to the mathematical quantities given to us by quantum theory, we also have equations defining a definite path through space and time for each elementary particle in nature. These paths are determined by the initial state of the universe and, in this sense, de Broglie-Bohm theory can be thought of as a deterministic theory, rather like the pre-quantum theories given by Newton’s and Maxwell’s equations. Unfortunately, de Broglie and Bohm’s equations also share another property of Newton’s equations: an action at any point in space has instantaneous effects on particles at arbitrarily distant points.

Because these effects would not be directly detectable, this would not actually allow us to send signals faster than light, and so it does not lead to observations that contradict Einstein’s special theory of relativity. It does, however, very much violate its spirit, as well as the beautiful symmetry principles incorporated in the underlying mathematics. For this reason, and also because de Broglie and Bohm’s ideas work well for particles but are hard to generalise to electromagnetic and other fields, it seems impossible to find a version of the scheme that is consistent with much of modern theoretical physics. Still, de Broglie and Bohm’s great achievement was to show that we can find a mathematically consistent description of reality alongside quantum theory. When it first emerged, their work was largely unappreciated, but it led to many of Bell’s insights into the quantum reality problem and blazed a trail for later theorists.

In the 1980s, a much more promising avenue opened up, thanks to the efforts of Giancarlo Ghirardi, Alberto Rimini, Tullio Weber and Philip Pearle, three European theorists and an American. Their approach became known as the ‘spontaneous collapse’ model and their brilliant insight was that we can find mathematical laws that describe how the innumerable possible outcomes encoded in a quantum description of an experiment get reduced to the one actual result that we see. As we have already noted, the tension between these two descriptions is at the heart of the quantum reality problem.

When using standard quantum theory, physicists often say that the wave function – a mathematical object that encodes all the potential possibilities – ‘collapses’ to the measured outcome at the end of an experiment. This ‘collapse’, though, is no more than a figure of speech, which only highlights the awkward fact that we do not understand what is really happening. By contrast, in Ghirardi-Rimini-Weber-Pearle models, collapse becomes a well-defined mathematical and physical process, taking place at definite points in space, following precise equations and going on all the time in the world around us, whether or not we are making measurements. According to these new equations, the more particles there are in a physical system, the faster the collapse rate. Left isolated, a single electron will collapse so rarely that we essentially never see any effect. On the other hand, anything large enough to be visible – even a dust grain – has enough particles in it that it collapses very quickly compared to human perception times. (In Schrödinger’s famous thought experiment, the cat’s quantum state would resolve in next to no time, leaving us with either a live cat or a dead one, not some strange quantum combination of both.)

One way of thinking about reality in these models, first suggested by Bell, is to take the beables to be the points in space and time at which the collapses take place. On this view, a dust grain is actually a little galaxy of collapse points, winking instantaneously in and out of existence within or near to (what we normally think of as) the small region of space that it occupies. Everything else we see around us, including our selves, has the same sort of pointillistic character.

Collapse models do not make exactly the same predictions as quantum theory, which could turn out to be either a strength or a weakness. Since quantum theory is very well confirmed, this disagreement might seem to rule these new models out. However, the exact rate of collapses per particle is a free parameter that is not fixed by the mathematics of the basic proposal. It is perfectly possible to tailor this value such that the differences between collapse model predictions and those of quantum theory are so tiny that no experiment to date would have detected it, and at the same time large enough that the models give a satisfactory solution to the reality problem (ie, everything that seems definite and real to us actually is real and definite).

That said, we presently have no theoretically good reason why the parameter should be in the range that allows this explanation to work. It might seem a little conspiratorial of nature to give us the impression that quantum theory is correct, while tuning the equations so that the crucial features that give rise to a definite physical reality are – with present technology – essentially undetectable. On the other hand, history tells us that deep physical insights, not least quantum theory itself, have often come to light only when technology advances sufficiently. The first evidence for what turns out to be a revolutionary change in our understanding of nature can often be a tiny difference between what current theory predicts and what is observed in some crucial experiment.

Like every previous theory of physics, quantum theory will turn out only approximately true, applying within a limited domain only

There are other theoretical problems with collapse models. Although they do not seem to conflict with special relativity or with field theories in the way that de Broglie-Bohm theory does, incorporating the collapse idea into these fundamental theories nevertheless poses formidable technical problems. Even on an optimistic view, the results in this direction to date represent work in progress rather than a fully satisfactory solution. Another worry for theorists in a subject where elegance seems to be a surprisingly strong indicator of physical relevance is that the mathematics of collapse seems a little ad hoc and utilitarian. To be fair, it is considerably less ugly than the de Broglie-Bohm theories, which to a purist’s eye more closely resemble a Heath Robinson contraption than the elegant machinery we have come to expect of the laws of physics. But compared with the extraordinary depth and beauty of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, or of quantum theory itself, collapse models disappoint.

This could simply mean that we have not properly understood them, or not yet seen the majestic deeper theory of which they form a part. It seems likelier, though, that collapse models are at best only a step in roughly the right direction. I suspect that, like de Broglie-Bohm theory, they will eventually be seen as pointers on the way to a deeper understanding of physical reality – extraordinarily important achievements, but not fundamentally correct descriptions.

There is, however, one important lesson that we can already credit to collapse models. De Broglie-Bohm theory suffers from the weakness that its experimental predictions are precisely the same as those of quantum theory, unlike collapse models that, as we have noted, are at least in principle testably different. The beables in de Broglie-Bohm theory – the particle paths – play a rather subordinate role: their behaviour is governed by the wave function that characterises all the possible realities from which any given set of paths is drawn, but they have no effect on that wave function. In metaphysical language, the de Broglie-Bohm theory beables are epiphenomena. The American psychologist William James once poetically described human consciousness as ‘Inert, uninfluential, a simple passenger in the voyage of life, it is allowed to remain on board, but not to touch the helm or handle the rigging’. Much the same might be said of a de Broglie-Bohm beable. Collapse-model beables, on the other hand, give as good as they get. Their appearance is governed by rules involving the quantum wave function, and yet, once they appear, they in turn alter the wave function. This makes for a far more interesting theory, mathematically as well as scientifically.

It’s tempting to declare this as a requirement for any variable in a fundamental theory of physics – or at least, any variable that plays as important a role as the beables are meant to play: it should be mathematically active, not purely passive. Any interesting solution to the quantum reality problem should (like collapse models but unlike de Broglie-Bohm theory) make experimentally testable predictions that allow us to check our new description of reality.

How might we do that? Assuming these ideas are not entirely wrong, what sort of experiments might give us evidence of a deeper theory underlying quantum theory and a better understanding of physical reality? The best answer we can give at present, if collapse models and other recent ideas for beable theories are any guide, is that we should expect to see something new when some relevant quantity in the experiment gets large. In particular, the peculiar and intriguing phenomenon called quantum interference – which seems to give direct evidence that different possible paths which could have been followed during an experiment all contribute to the outcome – should start to break down as we try to demonstrate it for larger and larger objects, or over larger and larger scales.

This makes some intuitive sense. Quantum theory was developed to explain the behaviour of atoms and other small systems, and has been well tested only on small scales. It would always have been a brave and perhaps foolhardy extrapolation to assume that it works on all scales, up to and including the entire universe, even if this involved no conceptual problems. Given the self-contradictions involved in the extrapolation and the profound obstacles that seem to prevent any solution of the reality problem within standard quantum theory, the most natural assumption is that, like every previous theory of physics, quantum mechanics will turn out only approximately true, applying within a limited domain only.

A number of experimental groups around the world are now trying to find the boundaries of that domain, testing quantum interference for larger and larger molecules (the current record is for molecules comprising around 1,000 atoms), and ultimately for small crystals and even viruses and other living organisms. This would also allow us to investigate the outlandish but not utterly inconceivable hunch that the boundaries of quantum theory have to do with the complexity of a system, or even with life itself, rather than just size. Researchers have proposed space-based experiments to test the interference between very widely separated beams and will no doubt spring into action once quantum technology becomes available on satellites, as it probably will in the next few years.

With luck, if the ideas I have outlined are on the right lines, we might have a good chance of detecting the limits of quantum theory in the next decade or two. At the same time we can hope for some insight into the nature and structure of physical reality. Anyone who expects it to look like Newtonian billiard-balls bouncing around in space and time, or anything remotely akin to pre-quantum physical ideas, will surely be disappointed. Quantum theory might not be fundamentally correct, but it would not have worked so well for so long if its strange and beautiful mathematics did not form an important part of the deep structure of nature. Whatever underlies it might well seem weirder still, more remote from everyday human intuitions, and perhaps even richer and more challenging mathematically. To borrow a phrase from John Bell, trying to speculate further would only be to share my confusion. No one in 1899 could have dreamed of anything like quantum theory as a fundamental description of physics: we would never have arrived at quantum theory without compelling hints from a wide range of experiments.

The best present ideas for addressing the quantum reality problem are at least as crude and problematic as Bohr’s model of the atom. Nature is far richer than our imaginations, and we will almost certainly need new experimental data to take our understanding of quantum reality further. If the past is any guide, it should be an extraordinarily interesting scientific journey.

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Comments

  • Jack

    Objective physics is very possible. Where you find the quantum & the continuum.

    see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEH9mx69cSE

  • Joy Christian

    "Indeed, later theoretical work by the Irish physicist John Bell and subsequent experiments suggested that the apparently reasonable demands of that 1935 paper could never be satisfied. Had Einstein lived to see this work, he would surely have agreed that his own search for a deeper theory of reality needed to follow a different path from the one he sketched in 1935."

    Einstein most certainly would not have agreed with Bell, just as he did not agree with a similar no-go theorem by von Neumann. The reason for this is very simple. Bell's argument is simply and demonstrably wrong. It is trivial to reproduce the EPR-Bohm correlation in a complete, local, realistic, and deterministic manner. See for example this very simple demonstration: http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/EPRB.pdf. Einstein, who of course knew his geometry and topology well, could have easily seen the fundamental topological error Bell made in his argument, just as he saw through the error von Neumann made in his argument. What is more, even Pauli, who had no sympathy with Einstein's position on quantum theory, would have laughed at Bell's argument. For Pauli too would have easily seen Bell's blunder. It is a great pity that contemporary physicists are unable or unwilling to see Bell's error. Could this be because they are too afraid to acknowledge the colossal damage their adherence to Bell's erroneous argument has done to physics?

    • Richard Gill

      It is not difficult to simulate quantum correlations "in complete, local, realistic, and deterministic manner" on one computer, but rather more difficult to do it on a network of computers connected and communicating as in real-world experiments, and under the standard constraints concerning inputs (binary, random, independent) and outputs (binary).

      • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

        It has been done. All your fallacious claims have been refuted many times over. The details of my demonstrations can be found on my blog: http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/

        • Richard Gill

          Yet nobody believes you ... not even the people you hired to write your computer programs for you.

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            You can twist the facts as much as you like, I am not falling for your tricks. For the record, I did not "hire" Lucien Hardy to spot your errors, or anyone else to confirm my model in simulations. I wish I had the kind of money to hire professionals like those who kindly confirmed my model in several different ways.

          • Richard Gill

            Why did Lucien not inform me of my errors? On the other hand he appeared to agree with my diagnosis of yours.

            Look: it is not difficult to program computers to reproduce your computations. I found it revealing that one of those programmers inserted a "real part of" into your formula, in order to cover up one of your errors.

            Any competent programmer can draw graphs like the ones you just showed us. There are easy ways (ask the computer to draw the cosine function) and harder ways (ask the computer to perform some elaborate computation whose result is the cosine function).

            I hope we will meet again some time in order to have a civilized discussion about our differences of opinion.

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            Lucien Hardy is a distinguished and prominent scholar. He does not have time to go around informing someone like you of their silly errors in elementary algebra. In any case, I have pointed out your embarrassing errors to you many times before. Here is the list again: http://arxiv.org/abs/1203.2529.

            None of the professionals who has kindly confirmed my local model in numerical simulations did anything of the kind you are suggesting. It is you who have been failing to understand elementary algebra (namely, C^2 + S^2 = 1, where C and S are real numbers) used in my work and in the simulations.

            By now at least five event-by-event numerical simulations of my local model for the EPR-Bohm correlation have been independently produced by four different authors, with codes written in Java, Python, Mathematica, and Excel Visual Basic. The simulations confirm the validity of my local model beyond any shadow of doubt. Each simulation provides different statistical and geometrical insights into how my local-realistic framework works, and indeed how Nature herself works. The details of these explicit simulations can be found on my blog: http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/.

          • Thomas Ray

            "Any competent programmer can draw graphs like the ones you just showed us."

            With a random correlation function?

          • Richard Gill

            Yes, Thomas. With a correlation function based on a random sample.

          • Thomas Ray

            Where's the sampling in the Christian-Roth simulation? There's no probability measure of any kind.

          • Richard Gill

            Yes there is.

          • Thomas Ray

            Explain

          • Richard Gill

            Read the code ... or ask Chantal Roth who wrote it

          • Thomas Ray

            Okay -- let me try this. How do you interpret the throwdie function?

          • Thomas Ray

            I'll save you the trouble, then. Chantal wrote in sci.physics.foundations in answer to a question:

            "The throwDie function is just there to add randomness to the process.

            For a given value C, instead of using that value directly to
            determine the result (either |1| or 0), a die is thrown to determine
            what value should really be used.

            The chance that our die toss "wins" depends on the value of C.

            For instance if C is 0, then we will never "win", and the result is always 0.

            If C is 1, then we always "win", because the die value will always be 0), then the result would not be very interesting :-)
            (you would basically get a flat line except at one spot :-)

            The call "throwDie(C)" then essentially translates to:

            the probability that we record |1| is C

            Best wishes,

            Chantal
            "

            The correlation function generates a continuous and smooth output on random input, with probability 1, correspondent to deterministic chaos. A true probability measure would predict equal linear distribution of elements in superposition; however, the correlation function is nonlinear, random. No sampling, no averaging. No probability measure.

          • Fred Diether

            Lots of people believe Joy. The list grows everyday. It's the future for physics. I can't believe that you have not fixed the math mistakes in your papers yet.

          • Richard Gill

            Dear Fred, I wrote *one* short note on Joy's model and posted it on arXiv. I do not plan to publish it. Many people told me they found it rather useful. Joy gave us a list of four or five famous mathematicians and physicists who had allegedly checked his work in depth and allegedly agreed with his findings. Curiously, not one of them have ever supported him in print. I checked with each of them. Every one agreed with my analysis and every one had previously totally lost any interest which they had earlier had in Joy's model.

            But why aren't we discussing Adrian's excellent essay? Much more interesting.

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            Your error-filled preprint is not publishable. Even an undergraduate knows the difference between a bivector and a multi-vector (or a non-pure quaternion). But one only has to read the abstract of your unpublishable preprint to see that you haven't a clue about what is a bivector and what is not. And that is just a start. If you have forgotten, have a look again at the full list of your elementary errors: http://arxiv.org/abs/1203.2529. Better still, visit my blog: http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/.

          • Fred Diether

            Besides the math mistakes you make in that paper, you also have math mistakes in your published papers concerning the CHSH inequality that I believe I pointed out to you on the FQXi blogs. You lost the bet. Remember? Adrian has unfortunately been fooled by Bell just like many others.

          • Fred Diether

            I should add that there is nothing weird or mysterious about quantum theory. It (the weirdness or mystery) is just about non-linear probabilities. Joy has shown that those probabilities can be due to local realistic processes.

    • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

      I also disagree with Adrian Kent on the choice of the subtitle of his article. In my opinion quantum theory is *not* the deepest theory we have. General relativity is far deeper and much more profound fundamental theory of Nature than quantum theory is. And general relativity has been experimentally better verified than quantum theory by several orders of magnitude, at least in some crucial experiments (for example, in the orbital decay of a binary pulsar).

    • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

      It is beyond my comprehension why otherwise intelligent and knowledgeable people sometimes get locked into a blatant denial of elementary facts akin to 2 + 2 = 4. Just have a look at eqs. (A.9.1) to (A.9.3) in this very clear-cut two-page document: http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/EPRB.pdf.
      Here eqs. (A.9.2) and (A.9.3) require no more than a basic knowledge of high-school trigonometry. It is clear that the numbers A = +1 or -1 and B = +1 or -1 are manifestly local. Alice's number A in no way depends on Bob's number B, and vice versa. Moreover, the numbers A and B are entirely in accordance with Bell's own local prescription (see his famous 1964 paper).
      Now, it requires no more than high-school knowledge of probabilities to see that the joint probabilities for obtaining A and B expressed in eqs. (A.9.4) to (A.9.7) follow at once from the random functions A and B defined in the eqs. (A.9.2) and (A.9.3). No computer simulation is needed. No deep analysis is needed. Only high-school knowledge of basic trigonometry and basic coin-toss-type probabilities is sufficient to see the inevitability of the joint probabilities from the very definitions of the functions A and B. But this is what Bell claimed to be impossible. Once you have these four probabilities, the correlations follow at once, and both CHSH and Clauser-Horne inequalities are violated. In fact, we recover every bit of quantum mechanical predictions for the EPR-Bohm correlations just from these four probabilities.
      So why the denial, personal attacks, calling names, and online harassment?

  • Luciano

    I believe the many worlds happen, and linear time is merely an illusion created by our consciousness just to be able to have experiences, to organize them.

    Coming from that, not only all possibilities happen, they happen in the same "plane on top of time", which is what we commonly call "now". All is happening NOW (the big bang, the dinosaurs, our 'future') but when individual consciousness happens, it does so inserted in a time framework that makes those "points" seem distant; one thing having less probability of happening to me only means it's a harder "curve" to make in the grand prix of life, but one that is made anyway. What we "remember" as our lives is merely a little linear path in a huge fuzzy, unfathomable universe of ever-thing.

    You say "If we can’t allow the statement that dinosaurs really walked the Earth,
    what meaningful content could biology, paleontology or Darwinian
    evolution actually have?" there's a fallacy there which is "scientific proven data are meaningful" but that is clearly just your point of view, there are many fundamentalist christians (I am NOT either of these adjectives) that would find no meaning in them - or maybe a very distorted one, from our perspective: "the bones are there to test our faith".

    I believe materialistically looking at the microscope like what science does obviously has its limits, even if they are as thin as a photon wave-particle; at a certain point "classical science" will most definitely have to face the edge between what it is being observed and the observer and realize there might not be a mathematical model for every interaction or that maybe such model would be so complex to be almost rendered useless.

    I follow the human quantum adventures closely, and it seems very poetic to me that it is so close to Buddhism, in many ways. People who have meditated a lot thousands of years ago have said they've seen "the mandala that makes everything" and then in 2008 Garret Lisi comes up with the E8 theory. These quantical musings are in the same line; I hope that if or when we have "the final mathematical model" that will show us that we are all made of one same thing and that time and space and differences among us are all illusions of the brain bio-machine, then the oriental sages will be saying "well, but that's what we've been saying all along".

    Great article, congratulations! I'm sorry most of the people I know won't read it... I will definitely buy your book. Have a great one!

    • Luciano

      Thank you guys for upvoting my comment; I recommend the book "Biocentrism" if you like what I've written here, it's revolutionary and not that difficult to read.

    • An0n

      Then explain entropy, please.

      • KV

        I will, if you explain temperature first.

        • An0n

          Great. I will.
          Temperature is the measurement of the heat an object radiates, though I don't see how that is relevant to my request.

    • David Malek

      "I believe the many worlds happen, and linear time is merely an illusion created by our consciousness just to be able to have experiences, to organize them."

      You are just putting some metaphors together, nothing more. How the consciousness relates to Quantum Mechanics? We don't know yet. What you are saying is not testable, at least with the current level of technology. There is a tendency to "believe" stuff as they fit into our framework of thoughts, religions and/or cultural preferences, etc. But that's not the scientific approach. So, what you are saying, is science fiction at best.

      • G

        The error in Luciano's posting isn't that he attributes consciousness to QM phenomena (in any case there is a theory with testable hypotheses to cover that, keyword search "orchestrated objective-reduction").

        The error is that he attributes to subjectivity a huge number of empirical observations made with instruments that are independent of the experimenter's mind. All macro-scale experiments involving thermodynamics produce nonreversible timelines: heat diffuses from a source to a sink, the reverse does not occur, and this occurs reliably regardless of who is or isn't watching.

        Whether "all is one" in a Buddhist sense, is a philosophical question rather than a strictly empirical question. Though, as a practical matter, living in accord with that idea might lead to improvements in the ethical choices and behaviours of humans.

    • DAS

      If the many worlds theory is correct then there are scientists in countless universes where the photon always goes through the left slit or always goes through the right slit. There are other scientists in countless universes where the photons alternate between left and right or right and left. There are really confused scientists in countless universes where photons go through the left slit 40% of the time in all experiments done in England, and 60% of the time in all experiments done in Canada.

      How fortunate we are to live in one of those universes where the photons behave in probabilistic, yet predictable and understandable, ways.

  • Ken Weiss

    This is a very fine, clear discussion. For a non-physicist like me, it is not possible to judge what is said (nor some of the first comments, below). But as a biologist and geneticist, I can say that there are reasons to question some of the ultimate assumptions that are widely made (often implicitly, since few biologists these days seem to give any thought to our epistemology) that may have similar perplexing implications.

    As this article notes, any revised theory of genetics or the nature of evolution will show that current ideas are an approximation, better than the theistic or other predecessors of biological theory.

    How one would ever know that we've come to 'the' final truth in any science, assuming there is such truth, is as interesting a question as one can ask, I think.

    • http://thewayitis.info/ Derek Roche

      I think we'll know it if and when there are no more arbitrary constants in our equations, no more unexamined assumptions in our axioms, no more miracles or lucky accidents along the way and we realise, finally, that what there is, and how there is what there is, is simply what is necessarily the case. A tall ask, I agree.

    • skanik

      Ken,

      Is there a clear and distinct concept of what a Species is in Biology.
      I was taught that two different species cannot produce healthy offspring.
      But is seems confusing because if Species A can mate with sub-species
      B and B can mate with sub-species C and C can mate with sub-species
      D - but A and D cannot produce healthy offspring where do you draw
      the dividing line between Species A - sub B - sub C - Species D ?

      • Ken Weiss

        I'm not clear what relevance this has, but the species definition is an overlay by us onto Nature. Most would argue (going back to Darwin in a somewhat modern sense, but all the way back in history more generally) that members of a species can mate and bear fertile offspring. Of course there are sterile couples within species, but the idea is that no such pairing can occur between species.

        Others argue that geographic isolation, or even local isolation, so that members of two groups never encounter or mate with each other would constitute species.

        Your ABCD example is a well-known demonstration of the arbitrariness of the concept (it's got various names, one being 'ring species') and there are various actual examples.

        Also, however, and importantly (since we can't usually test all members vis-a-vis all members of two groups), it is often treated (I'd say typically without careful thinking) that adaptive or major trait differences is evidence for species (Darwin basically thought that way), but adaptation is not a valid criterion nor is appearance (many species manifest polyphenism, that is, very different traits in different environments etc.).

        • skanik

          Thanks Ken,

          I asked it because I thought you might be able to explain

          and because we forget that even in Physics we are attempting

          to place a template on nature and sometimes nature surprises

          us in un-expected ways.

          • Ken Weiss

            This is very interesting. In nature we often put overlays on the world that we know are human-derived (concepts like 'race', 'gene', 'phylum', or even 'species'). The thoughtful biologists realize this and also that they can be problematic.

            I think the use of probability and statistical methods in genetics and evolutionary biology is often very problematic since those methods are for replicable phenomena, like roulette or dice.

            My understanding of physics was that, like Newton and gravity, we simply define things and let it go at that. So, as I understand it, an electron is (if it is a 'thing' rather than just a probability) just a location--a point. It is not even a 'particle' if that means it has size, because then it would (in common sense) have substance (you could slice it in half). But not if it's just a point--but does that make sense? The recent cover story on Nature was about the size or circumference and polarity of electrons, but then or even if they have 'spin', that suggests more than just Euclidean-like points (here, I am way beyond what I even begin to understand!).

            Whether we have similar mysteries to discover in biology isn't known, of course. But I think there may be far too much smug self-satisfiction these days.

          • Skanik

            I agree, Ken, I agree.

      • ColtsHeadBen

        You were taught an artificially exact species distinction.

      • mijnheer

        I'm no biologist, but I recommend Species: A History of the Idea, by John S. Wilkins.

  • Richard Gill

    Here is my answer to Adrian's question about reality: my answer is simply to take the Heisenberg cut seriously. On one side there are waves, on the other side particles. Up to the experimentalists to find out where the cut lies. Up to the quantum gravity people to decide on which side of the cut lies "mass". Mathematically the solution is called "eventum mechanics", it was invented by Slava Belavkin (RIP), and I tried to explain it in http://arxiv.org/abs/0905.2723: "Schrödinger's cat meets Occam's razor".

    IMHO the "many worlds" solutions are "many words". A smokescreen of verbiage designed to obfuscate and to confuse. In particular, confuse the parallel deterministic evolution of a quantum superposition of wave functions, and the random branching following from "measurement" which is of course just: interaction between classical and quantum, interaction between the two sides of the Heisenberg cut.

    • Thomas Ray

      Richard, your preprint claims, "It seems to us that commutativity should be looked for in quantum field theory where we introduce space as well as time, and express 'locality' in the theory by the commutativity of different regions of space at the same time."
      You think this a lesser smokescreen than MWI? At the least, MWI does not have to abandon relativity to explain collapse of the wave function, as you do here. Nor does it obviate a simply connected manifold, as you do here, that would allow completeness of measure results everywhere except the point at infinity where universes can be said to branch.
      If one understands Joy Christian's framework, one should see that the set of complete measure results on the 3-manifold of parallelized S^3 guarantees manifestly local observations by non vanishing torsion (resulting in E(a,b) = a.b), independent of scale, i.e., without boundary between classical and quantum domains. No multiple connectedness needed to define "local" commutative regions of spacetime separate from assumed "nonlocal" reality, and no probability measures.

      • Richard Gill

        Thomas, I do not *abandon* relativity and I do not *explain* collapse of the wave function: I supply a mathematical model in which stochastic collapse of the wave function is one of the fundamental (axiomatically present) ingredients. My good reasons for this come from Bell and all that: see http://arxiv.org/abs/1207.5103, "Statistics, Causality and Bell's Theorem" to appear in Statistical Science, special issue on causality. In short: according to Bell, if we agree with the predictions of QM, then we are forced to abandon one (at least) of "realism", "locality", and "freedom". Note that "realism" is actually an idealistic metaphysical position, which posits the reality (in the sense of location in space-time) of the outcomes of not performed measurements. For a host of reasons including parsimony, consistency with the rest of physics, and trusting the predictions of QM, I prefer to keep "locality" and "freedom" and therefore I reluctantly choose to relinquish "realism".

        Once we have decided that QM is *different* from classical physics (it allows some things which classical physics would forbid, but it also forbids things which classical physics would allow) everything falls into place. The world is inherently stochastic. The past is "real" (definite, fixed; but dead, of course). The future is not yet determined. The past is particles, the future is a wave.

        • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

          Perhaps you are unaware that Bell's argument has been refuted many times over: http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/EPRB.pdf

          For further details, see also: http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/

          • http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill Richard D. Gill

            I am aware of your claims but as you know, I dispute them. You use a "new kind of mathematics" which so far has found few adherents.

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            You are in denial. You dispute your own ideas, not my local model. The mathematics I use is in use since 1842. Einstein used it in his own work, so need I say more? Moreover, your comment reveal that you haven't actually read my work at all. It is pretty clear from the document I have linked that I use only high-school (A-level at most) trigonometry and probability theory: http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/EPRB.pdf

          • Fred Diether

            It is more than just denial. It is unbelievable that Gill makes the same mistake in his section 2 of his linked arXiv paper above that he lost the bet with me on FQXi. The A from AB is not necessarily the same as the A from AB', etc. His sect. 2 is irrelevant to any real world experiment. He should have a good discussion with Weihs about what he has done there.

          • http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill Richard D. Gill

            The A from AB is not necessarily the same as the A from AB' ... indeed that is the whole point, I would say.

          • Fred Diether

            If that is the point then your expression in sect. 2 is equal to plus or minus 4 not 2. What you have done there is trivial and doesn't mean anything. Run your sect. 2 past Weihs and see what he says.

          • http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill Richard D. Gill

            Glad you are reading it carefully. Of course it is trivial. (And Gregor Weihs has no problems with it, nor anyone else).

          • Fred Diether

            LOL! You need to get a grip on this. The way that you have mangled CHSH is such that not even quantum theory can violate it. Anyone can see by simple math inspection that it is impossible for anything including quantum theory to violate it therefore it is useless and just plain nonsense. Again... you are mixing up polarizer settings with results. First pair run the polarizers are a and b in reference to a particular lab frame. Second pair run, the polarizers are a and b'. However because the original polarization angle at pair creation is random, the result A from a, b run is not necessarily the same as the A result from a, b' run even though the polarizer setting for a in both runs is at the same angle. It is very simple.

            Actually, I take it back. Perhaps it is not total total nonsense. What I suspect that you have inadvertently proved is that if the original polarization angle at creation is held constant then the strong correlation disappears. Which Joy also shows here,

            http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Book-Chapter.pdf

            In section A.3.4

          • http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill Richard D. Gill

            This is the point. Local realism cannot violate this. Quantum theory can. There is nothing essentially new in my proof. This is all there always was, all the way back to Bell. I tried to reveal the trivial heart of the derivation. As Joy himself has said on many occasions, you cannot disprove a true theorem, you get around it. He got around it by redefining correlation. His theoretical correlation does not correspond to the correlation observed in labs. This is the main reason why no one is interested in his theory (Hardy, Faber, Iqbal, Shimony, Hestenes, Weihs, ...). The mathematical errors are a secondary blemish. They can be fixed by redefining things appropriately. I notice that the mathematics of the new executive summary (EPRB.pdf) is actually rather different from that of the classic one-page paper which we used to discuss. Christian 2.0 has superceded Christian 1.0. But the facts remain unchanged.

          • Fred Diether

            Nothing can violate your eq. (4) in the paper we are talking about. Not even quantum theory. And eq. (6) is just plain wrong. We are not talking about Joy here. We are talking about the mistakes you made in your paper.

          • Fred Diether

            If you think quantum theory can violate your eq. (4), then you should be able to give a table of results for A, A', B, B' all being equal to +/- 1 that will violate it. I do believe that you already have proven that it can't be done.

          • http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill Richard D. Gill

            The A from AB is not necessarily the same as the A from AB'? Depends on the context. In a local realistic model of the world, the A from AB and the A from AB' are necessarily the same: Alice's outcome does not depend on Bob's setting. The definitions in the paper of AB and of AB' are the pair of outcomes which would be observed if settings ab, or settings ab', were in force. The principle of realism (counterfactual definiteness) says that within our mathematical model of the world, these things can all be defined. The principle of locality (local relativistic causality) then takes care of the rest.

            The equality of A from AB with A from AB' holds by definition of local realism. We derive a contradiction between predictions of QM and local realism. Hence if we trust the predictions of QM we have to ditch local realism.

            I am of course making the freedom (no-conspiracy) assumption too.

            All of this is very conventional, and very simple.

            Whether or not the physical world can be mathematically modelled in a local realistic way is a matter of debate. But let's talk about a network of computers simulating a perfect Aspect type experiment (rigorous timing protocol, no experimental loopholes). I think we would agree that locality and realism are true. We build in freedom, in the experimental design. Conclusion: the statistics generated in the simulation experiment will hardly ever violate the Bell inequalities. Corollary: the computer programs which simulate Joy's model can't be rewritten so as to run on a network (distributed computing, strict communication restrictions).

            We could also talk about the colourful exploding balls experiment. The same is true.

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            This is called "shifting the goal post." Sociologists know all about it. Your argument involves several unphysical assumptions. I have no desire to correct your errors once again, but if you wish to learn a thing or two about physics and mathematics, then please feel free to visit my blog and learn it from there: http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/.

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            This is called "shifting the goalpost." To talk about my proposed experiment you have to first understand it, which you don't.

          • http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill Richard D. Gill

            That's very exciting news. So you have won the quantum Randi challenge. Please give us the references. I hope that the experiment will soon be succesfully replicated.

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            You already have the references. They are in my very first post on this blog, which you have never bothered to read.

          • http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill Richard D. Gill

            Again you are jumping to conclusions and making statements which you cannot know are true or false, but which you should realize are libellous. I *did* carefully read your first post to this blog. I did *not* notice a reference to a "distributed" version of the program which simulates your model.

            If you have a suite of programs for a network of computers, which satisfy the usual constraints on inputs, outputs, timing, communication, and which reproducibly exhibit a violation of the CHSH inequality (with correlations defined in the conventional manner), then you have won the quantum Randi challenge. That will be quite something.

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            Fair enough. I take your word that you did read my first post.
            I have no desire to win any silly challenge. My interest is in reproducing the strong correlation in a strictly local and realistic manner. The analytical model specified on the two pages you have just reread does exactly that. The model strictly complies with Bell's own criteria of locality and reality, as set out in his very first paper. In fact it is almost exactly Bell's own local model of that paper, apart from being set within a 3-sphere. The program that simulates the model thus strictly complies with Bell's criteria of locality and reality. My job is therefore done. If you wish to test the model in a different simulation, then you are welcome to do so. A different way of testing is not going to change the already confirmed analytically local-realistic model by a whisker.

          • http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill Richard D. Gill

            Dear Joy

            The point of the challenge (QRC) is that it will convince everyone. No way any establishment conspiracy can suppress the news. No need for experts to check difficult or original mathematics. No need for experts to check the details of computer programs. Everyone can convince themselves merely by running the programmes on their own (distributed) system, and of course, they can simulate a distributed computer network on a single computer, if they like.

            I have been looking at the Python code written by Michel Fodje ("minkwe"). I notice that the measurement outcomes can be -1, 0 or 1, and that the correlations are computed on the basis of the (+/-1, +/-1) outcomes only, i.e., by post-selection on no "0" outcome in either wing of the experiment.

            It is not difficult to violate CHSH in this way, as has been known for about 40 years, I forget who was the first who came up with this trick (very soon after Bell's original and famous paper). Bell made clear in his later publications that this trick was prohibited ... hence the so-called "event-ready detectors" in the Bertelmann's socks paper.

            Richard

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            You have just confirmed that you have *not* actually read the two-pages linked in my first post above. Or perhaps you do not understand English. I urge you again to read the two-pages and try to understand what the model is, before making any false claims like the above. There is no trick involved here. I know the history of Bell's theorem much better than you do. Don't forget that---let alone Shimony---I learned about Bell's theorem partly form Bell himself. My model is about measurement events, +1 or -1, taking place within a parallelized 3-sphere. The model is crystal clear and extremely easy to understand. Please read the two-pages linked above---especially the few lines after the first equation. If you do not understand something, please ask me before jumping to conclusions. I don't expect everyone to understand all my notations and conventions immediately.

          • http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill Richard D. Gill

            I had read them, and I do understand English. I also understand quite a lot of the mathematics. Furthermore, please do not underestimate my understanding of Bell's theorem and its history.

            Why do (A.9.2) and (A.9.3) also allow a measurement outcome "zero"?

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            They don't. That is the whole point. There are no states for which |cos| < 1/2sin^2, so there are no outcomes "zero." What the two equations indicate is that for |cos| < 1/2sin^2 nothing would happen. If there are no clouds in the sky, then would be no rain, no matter where you go. If there are not states, then there can be no outcomes.

          • http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill Richard D. Gill

            Exactly, according to your model there are sometimes no outcomes. So they're not counted. The probabilities in (A.9.4) to (A.9.7) are actually conditional probabilities given that there are two outcomes. This is called "the detection loophole".

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            No. It is called the geometrical constraint of the parallelized 3-sphere. If there is nothing to count, then there is nothing to count. If there are 10 objects and you count only 7 of them and ignore the rest, then you have a detection loophole. But if there are only 7 objects, then there are only 7 object and no loophole. Then there are only 7 objects, and all 7 of them are counted.

          • http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill Richard D. Gill

            That's your interpretation of your mathematics. Trouble is, as far as I can see, whether or not there is a pair of objects to count depends on what are the settings on both sides of the experiment.

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            No it does not. The settings are completely freely chosen, and can be changed at any time during the flight of the photons.

          • http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill Richard D. Gill

            So what? Whether or not there is a pair of detections depends on the pair of settings at the two detectors. I can't read your mind, but I can read Python.

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            But why read Python when the analytical model is so crystal clear? Python simply implements the model, it is not the model.

          • http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill Richard D. Gill

            Dear Joy

            Well, then I am telling you that, as far as I can see, Michel Fodje's "epr-simple" Python code does *not* implement your model, and hence the beautiful pictures it produces cannot in any way be thought of as supporting your model.

            A couple of hours ago we talked briefly about the QRC. The point of QRC is: no need for experts to verify difficult or original mathematics. No need for experts to verify details of computer programs. Anyone can convince themselves merely by running the programmes on their own (distributed) system. This distributed system can even be a collection of virtual machines on one computer.

            I promise you: I will be convinced you are right when I see that experiment done, and (reproducibly) delivering the goods. More importantly: I'll publicly admit that you were right all along.

            Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. You claim that almost all the research of the last 50 years into quantum entanglement has been totally misguided. If you are right, there is an easy way for you to prove to the whole world that you are right: win the QRC.

            Richard

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            There is no such thing as "extraordinary evidence." Either there is evidence, or there is none. I have presented overwhelming analytical evidence, proving that the singlet correlations are correlations among the binary points of a parallelized 3-sphere (which is the space we live in). The analytical model presented in the two-pages linked above is crystal clear. The mathematics involved is elementary. The four joint probabilities follow immediately and analytically from the definitions of the two measurement functions, which in turn follow from the definition of the complete, or initial state. Moreover, the model fully complies with the criteria of locality and reality specified by Bell. Therefore no simulation is needed prove or disprove its veracity. But the simulations---in particular the one by Michel Fodje---do provide icings on the cake. They do provide a feel-good factor. It is indeed good to see that Michel's simulation so very nicely reproduces what is already proved analytically by the derivation of joint probabilities. And it complements Chantal Roth's simulation in ways that you would only understand if you read my papers discussing the simulations.
            I am not working to convince you or your friends about this. Nor am I making any extraordinary claim of any kind. You and the other followers of Bell are making an extraordinary claim. You are claiming that there is magic in the world. I am only pointing out the ordinary blunder Bell made in his theorem which you and your friends are unable to see. According to your own criterion, it is you who should be providing "extraordinary evidence", because it is you who is making an extraordinary claim. So far no one has presented a convincing evidence for the magic of non-locality or non-reality in the world. Show me where is that magic? I have provided *constructive*, *analytical* proofs that there is no magic of the kind you claim.

          • http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill Richard D. Gill

            To me, Michel Fodje's Python code gives a powerful feel-bad feeling. Inspection of his Python code (which is easy to analyse) shows that he is effectively exploiting the "detection loophole". It's just dressed up in new clothes. It has been around since Pearle (1970). And it keeps coming back: Caroline Thompson's chaotic ball model (reminiscent of your colourful exploding balls), Accardi's colourful chameleon statistics, Hess and Phillip's hidden variable (micro time)... Every time it is just the detection loophole, all over again.

            You could convince the whole world in a flash if you could win the quantum Randi challenge. But you can't (as you yourself used to admit), and this code is no exception.

            Chantal Roth confirms that her simulation fails when the rigorous constraints of decent experiments are imposed. And this is easy to verify, since it is easy to run her code in the framework of a rigorous experiment! Goodbye Bell violation!

            By the way, I do not claim any magic, I do not claim any non-locality. I do tend to believe nowadays in intrinsic (irreducible) quantum randomness. But the jury is still out. And as far as experiment is confirmed, we are still at least five years away from a more or less definitive experiment.

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            The evidence I have presented is exceedingly simple. It is there in the two-pages in the form of eight elementary mathematical equations and one figure. The evidence is purely analytical. No simulation is needed to corroborate the evidence. However, I cannot make you see what you clearly do not want to see.

          • http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill Richard D. Gill

            "I cannot make you see what you clearly do not want to see" - yes, that is mutual. Too bad! Posterity will decide.

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            The evidence I have presented is exceedingly simple. It is there in the two-pages in the form of eight elementary mathematical equations and one figure. The evidence is purely analytical. No simulation is needed to corroborate the evidence. However, I cannot make you see what you clearly do not want to see.

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            The evidence I have presented is exceedingly simple. It is there in the two-pages in the form of eight elementary mathematical equations and one figure. The evidence is purely analytical. No simulation is needed to corroborate the evidence. However, I cannot make you see what you clearly do not want to see.

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            Your comments remind me of Flatland, the movie.

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            My comments are being deleted. Someone is very scared of what I have discovered and proved---*very* scared.

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            The evidence I have presented is exceedingly simple. It is there in the two-pages in the form of eight elementary mathematical equations and one figure. The evidence is purely analytical. No simulation is needed to corroborate the evidence. However, I cannot make you see what you clearly do not want to see.

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            The evidence I have presented is exceedingly simple. It is there in the two-pages in the form of eight elementary mathematical equations and one figure. The evidence is purely analytical. No simulation is needed to corroborate the evidence. However, I cannot make you see what you clearly do not want to see.

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            I give up. There is something bizarre going on with this blog. Why are my comments being shifted around?

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            You are in denial. I have provided a very simple, manifestly local, analytical model for the EPR correlation in just eight elementary equations. And yet you go on about simulating this model. Your demands are as ridiculous as demanding a flight-simulation when I have presented you with the Jumbo Jet itself. You have totally lost the plot.

          • Fred Diether

            LOL! You need to get a grip on this. The way that you have mangled CHSH is such that not even quantum theory can violate it. Anyone can see by simple math inspection that it is impossible for anything including quantum theory to violate it therefore it is useless and just plain nonsense. Again... you are mixing up polarizer settings with results. First pair run the polarizers are a and b in reference to a particular lab frame. Second pair run, the polarizers are a and b'. However because the original polarization angle at pair creation is random, the result A from a, b run is not necessarily the same as the A result from a, b' run even though the polarizer setting for a in both runs is at the same angle. It is very simple.

          • Fred Diether

            Actually, I take it back. Perhaps it is not total total nonsense. What I suspect that you have proved is that if the original polarization angle at creation is held constant then the strong correlation disappears. Which Joy also shows here,

            http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Book-Chapter.pdf

            In section A.3.4

          • Gerhard Ris

            Indeed entanglement is like splitting the gearbox of a car. Having one toothed wheel turn left and the other to the right. Measurement ends the superconductive illusion. No spooky Vodoo or complicated mathematics needed, yet the integral view of all evidence brought to its essence. Circumstantial evidence (as is all evidence BTW Bayes dixit.)

          • Gerhard Ris

            Well Fred if you agree on my entanglement post I guess you might agree with my reaction to someones post in an other forum as well to this article of Adrian:

            Quote:

            The reason quantum theorists can (and sometime are) be unconcerned about the issues raised in the article is not because the maths and equations take a back seat to the observations - in fact it is almost the opposite. The "interpretations" of the observations and of the maths - take a back seat to the maths and equations. It is a case of we don't know or care what the the underlying mechanism or "but why" of these equations is - but they work superbly and we haven't found anyway yet to distinguish the various ideas and interpretations so we will "shut up and calculate". And it is this strange split in knowledge that the article was addressing" end quote

            And that is exactly where current quantum theorists go wrong "shut up and calculate". It should be: "don't shut up and calculate".

            1. Get all the observations in their essence as a picture in the minds eye of the people with the most humour, and who can draw accurately 3D. Ergo the ones that can perform relative thought and who can thus prove to actually observe properly. The ones that can come up with adult guesses on issues like this. (Of the fastest thinkers (male/female) in an unsafe environment only (less than) 10% can do that, in a safe environment this on more difficult issues can't rise higher than 50% - of all fastest thinkers - as current psychology shows. They are always in the minority especially in an unsafe environment. ) That you can do the mathematics on relativity doesn't mean you know what you are doing. Extremely fast thinkers with all the knowledge in the world on relativity with no sense of humour nor accurate 3D drawing ability will at best only be able to provide a guess of an average creative six year old. That is what is left after cutting away all the overly complicated humbug they produce, and produce a lot of. The only trick they can perform is shut up and calculate, by extrapolating mathematics. Earning them an honourary doctorate at the famous Escher Institute on water streaming upwards and something from nothing. And indeed sometimes that will work, creating the illusion that they are on the right track, yet it will become less and less gain for effort if you aren't able to guess properly to not only speed things up but also to keep it going. Predictably as we observe and the article points out you run into trouble. The creative can't keep on bailing these authoritative mental six year olds out on part issues. They at a point will have to go integral. Thereby breaking the six year olds rules. Now try and explain this to a majority of mental six year olds on actual relativity who are the authoritative peers only because they know the book by heart. These six year olds can only perform mirroring i.e. see in the other what they them selves are. They always extrapolate their own norms on others, because they simply can't envisage that others could be different and are simply much better at certain (crucial) tasks. You can't blame them for it probably is the DNA and how that is distributed in the different ants of the ants-heap. (Be it nature or nurture because current psychology also dictates this.)

            Mental six year olds hold on to their paradigm until it is to late even in light of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They go in a Bayesian inversion, just like the way how to catch a baboon. This 1 minute film shows how to do that.:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZRz1ETyfu4

            The Baboon clings on to its "paradigm" banana knowing that it is probably going to get caught yet guessing it will still get away if it pulls hard enough. Only when it is actually caught does it lets go when it is to late. The same in humans as history repeatedly shows and current psychology also shows. I guess that the baboon might learn from this and not repeat the mistake in exactly the same situation when using a banana. I guess it will make the same stupid mistake when it is not a banana. (Quite irrelevant what you put in the hole BTW.)

            2. Try in a broad sense to rearrange all the pieces of the puzzle filling in the missing parts via guessing. = Inductive, integral, intuitive like Einstein did. Albeit that Einstein did it via thought experiments on part issues now yet to be married QM & GR.

            3. Take that as a fact and figure out how to test that.

            4. Test it on logic, being fully integral and see which subsequently are most probable and easiest to test. Norm: close is close enough for testing. Logic: when you know that you don't know how it works you are in science PROHIBITED to be to accurate (or inaccurate of course). "To" accurate = pseudo science. This is NOT democratic but a dictate of logic and thus a conditio sine qua non for science, => Bye bye mathematics in this faze as a required norm.

            5. Test of mathematics and / or test of observation. This then finally is to be done in the most rigorous and accurate way. Here then our highly educated experienced extremely fast thinking otherwise mental six year old can do his or her stuff like a near yet then happy robot. In the correct scientific order.

          • Fred Diether

            For those interested, this discussion with Richard Gill concerning his paper is moved to,

            http://www.sciphysicsforums.com/spfbb1/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=6

          • http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill Richard D. Gill

            Dear Joy, It is not a question of the kind of mathematics which you *think* you are using, it is the way you use it which is rather original. So far it did not gain many adherents. But seriously, isn't it rather rude to pursue your vendetta with me on Adrian's blog page? I don't think anyone in the rest of the world is interested (apart from your long-time staunch supporters Tom and Fred).

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            I did not follow me here and attacked my work after reading my comment on Adrian's facebook page, *you* did. The first thing you did on this blog page was to make a blatantly false claim about my work without reading a word of it. Pointing out your errors and lack of objectivity about my work can hardly be called "vendetta." It is my scientific duty to correct the calculated misrepresentation of my work you are trying to perpetuate.

          • http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill Richard D. Gill

            I am sorry you see it that way, Joy. I did not "follow" you here. I came to read Adrian's article, which he wrote about on Facebook. (Excellent article, by the way).

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            This is not the first time you have lied.

          • http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill Richard D. Gill

            I am really sorry you think this. Lying means making an untrue statement with intent to deceive. To accuse someone of lying is to make a very serious accusation.

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            Correct. This time you are not lying. But you have lied again since you wrote this. I have proof, written in your own hands.

          • Gerhard Ris

            Well dear Joy, on your honour then to prove that Richard lied.

            What evidence do you have that Richard willfully stated something untrue? When you also provide the context in which it was stated I can show you what the applicable norm is in most legal systems. Then we can subsequently ascertain if you've succeeded in your burden of proof.

            I guess it would be best if you withdraw your claim, and state that you made a mistake in calling Richard a liar. Maybe you meant to say that he told untruths or something along those lines?

        • Thomas Ray

          Sorry, I don't find realism that obtuse, and metaphysical realism (the objective world) is clearer still. Your model is demonstrably non-relativistic; it should be obvious to you that drawing a domain boundary between past and future events is not only incompatible with classical mechanics, it violates CPT conservation in microscale systems -- where antiparticles may be interpreted in a time-reverse trajectory. Keep locality and freedom (the choice function independent of observer) and you get realism for free.

          • http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill Richard D. Gill

            My paper presents a "toy" version of eventum mechanics. Making it relativistically invariant has been done by Belavkin. Yes: your world view is formed by classical physics in which "realism" was never a problem. You got it for free. But now this world view is a hindrance, not a help. I think that new generations will more easily accept the paradigm shift.

          • Thomas Ray

            Time will tell whose world view is a hindrance.

          • Thomas Ray

            And if I may be permitted to add:

            Your statement I cited earlier ("It seems to us that commutativity should be looked for in quantum field theory where we introduce space as well as time, and express 'locality' in the theory by the commutativity of different regions of space at the same time.") contains the same error that Moldoveanu made in his claim to drive nails into the coffin of local realism.

            That is, the ad hoc (and falsified by relativity) assumption of time invariance at large relativistic scales. It's an elementary error often made by quantum theorists trying to fix the ugly mathematics.

            I sincerely hope you are serious in your wish to engage in a civil discourse over Joy's framework. I have lately been looking at a computationally tractable -- and local realistic -- complex system model that you claim is not tractable to " ... a network of computers connected and communicating as in real-world experiments, and under the standard constraints concerning inputs (binary, random, independent), outputs (binary), and the conventional definition (in experimental physics) of correlation."

        • Fred Diether

          Unbelievable! Even after losing the bet with me on FQXi you still continue to mangle the CHSH inequality in the above linked paper of yours. What you have written in section 2 is irrelevant to any real world situation. Remember... the A from AB is not necessarily the same as the A from AB', etc. in a real experiment. You have mixed up the polarizer settings of a, b, a' and b' with results A, B, etc. You should have a good discussion with Weihs about what you have done.

          The CHSH inequality was designed for experiments like Aspect, et al and Weihs, et al. Only two of the polarizer settings can be chosen per one run of a photon pair. Now maybe you will finally realize the mistake you have made and continue to make.

          • http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill Richard D. Gill

            Wonderful, Fred! LOL.

          • http://libertesphilosophica.info/blog/ Joy Christian

            LOL, indeed. It is only by smuggling-in unphysical assumptions that you are getting an unphysical result, namely 2 instead of 2/2. By taking into account the geometry and topology of the parallelized 3-sphere the correct physical result, namely 2/2, is easily obtained, as I have demonstrated many times in my work before: http://lccn.loc.gov/2013040705.

          • Gerhard Ris

            Adreans
            paper is interesting and it comes a long way towards the way I see it. Fundamentally
            however most scientists in this field miss out on one important aspect. In the
            interpretation of the data you must always include the distortions caused by
            the instruments in use. The one that is left out here is that one between our
            ears: the human brain and what basic psychology and more and more neurology
            teaches us.

            The
            discussion between Richard and you actually is further evidence of this. Let’s
            say for sake of the argument that Richard made a mistake in his algebra. So
            what? Hubble made a mistake in his that would have had the earth older than the
            universe. After accurate correction everyone accepts het Law of Hubble.

            Basic
            psychology shows that it is not only the speed of thought that is important but
            also the personality and the way these are distributed in the group. At all
            levels under pressure of what the authority (peers / boss probably) is deemed
            to think you can divide all of us in as a rule of thumb type A: 10% open-minded
            not afraid of authority goal orientated Yin & Yang fighters. Type B: 80%
            authority minded Ying or Yang (big
            ego or humble small ego) freezing up types
            and Type C: 10% on the relationship orientated rather flee than fight types. In
            a safe environment it becomes more flexible having 50% male/ female types that
            come from Mars and 50% male females that come from Venus. The
            problem is, they don’t understand each other, yet it is essential for survival / reaching the stated goal they work together. A logical organization of science is thus in R&D
            – production – sales issues. Under
            pressure a pure type A is an idiot in issues B and C; B an idiot in A and C
            etc.. Only in a safe environment is this different.

            Peering
            through the “ telescope GR / microscope QM” a B type will think to observe what
            the peer group on the authority paradigm probably expects that should be
            observed. Current neurology points in the direction that we all have the Bayes
            algorithm in our brains. Our brains guess what it probably is on bases of the
            observation and provides us with the illusion that it is rational what we
            do. This leads to a Bayesian inversion
            as history shows us in the march of folly that keeps on repeating itself. The hopelessly
            improbable is deemed true. And fought
            over to the hilt. The more authoritive book
            wisdom is available the bigger the problem becomes. Only after it has hopelessly
            gone wrong does it sink in. Like a baboon can be caught holding on to a
            (paradigm) banana qv YouTube. We act like apes.

            The basic
            rules of science are extremely simple: when you know that you don’t know the
            answer you are in an R&D situation as is the topic. Then we have the
            situation that we must apply probabilistic reasoning because the mathematics of
            Bayes shows that that is in order then. This also forces you and gives you the
            opportunity to guess intuitively / creatively. Bayes thus is a condition sine
            qua non for science. Yet another fundamental
            rule is the Lex Parsimony (LP). So the
            question is in order is the universe infinite or not infinite? Well a neigh probably even infinite shortage
            of data => Bayes + LP => inaccurate guessing in the inductive faze =>
            verbal logic required. Ergo psychology,
            neurology and history and even mathematics shows this. Like solving a crime scene when forced to act
            you must creatively compose scenario’s on the bases of – all – the evidence you
            have. Do that defiantly and it is a recipe for disaster. In law as in science.

            MN probably
            has a set of simple basic rules like E=mc2 and deterministic features that should
            – thus – be found using common sense.
            Even when you are but half the creative intelligence of Einstein. The
            latter is also relative: to a six year old all grownups are Einsteins.

            So what do
            we think we observe? Universe
            expanding? Why not observe that we are
            in a Champagne bubble on a railway track with the tracks diverging to the sides
            getting angular momentum? Time slowing
            down? Why not see that as the atom clock slowing down in such an accurate way
            as to set your clock by? Photon could
            also be seen as to accelerate holding c in the curve like a little toy wound up
            car loosing spin i.e. getting unwound i.e. red-shifted. Curbing in twice the Newtonian value like a
            real car giving gas in a curve holding the same speed. No conflict with mathematics
            of GR. The jumping of an electron from one state to the other => observation
            > c. Adrean says it can’t be Newton’s billiard balls. Oh? Why not? It could
            be a dynamic crystal built up of un-splitable actual atoms. As uncompressible
            moving mass they on average like hale will form a perfect sphere. Each staying
            in its own virtual cube. This you can test
            in a computer simulation in a cube with super conductive walls. (Rigid balls
            => you can delete the mass. Accuracy not attainable with an ideal gas that
            has gravity. ) Keep on testing this on ever better computers until you find the
            observed more order in the system than can at the moment be explained. Having
            two different of such particles one slower and larger both> c, then we get a
            double crystal assuming an infinite
            universe that is both Euclidian and non-Euclidian, whereby both want to go to
            order yet cause disorder in the other. The result is the Yin and Yang order we observe
            as the Higgs field. This you can test as well. For assuming this the large ones
            in spin form strings in a surface tension scenario kept there by the pressure
            of the universe because that causes least chaos. It can then pick up unspun mass from the
            crystal causing an under pressure = gravity = curved space = GR => Newton
            added momentum => acceleration = DE => more mass => DM. Seeing a
            spinning galaxy thus as a gyro scale it down and see if speeding it up causes a
            rise in gravity conforming to DM. Photons are to small => too fast for Higgs
            but are short-tracked in the crystal kept at c. Bouncing and waving in an
            accurate way. Double slit experiment; a photon: the energy packet like a boat going through one gate having its bow wave
            in the crystal hit the sides of the narrow gate causing the boat to slow down,
            and the wave at the stern to catch up through the other gate => interference
            pattern like a Galton board. When you observe by creating a field like spouting
            water at the boat it stays in front of the wave => no interference pattern.
            Also you get tired photons that should from distant galaxies show an anomaly in
            redshift because they even outside gravity fields slightly curve. Testable. Entanglement? Like splitting the gearbox of a car. One
            toothed wheel turns left the other to the right. Superconductivity => keeps
            on doing that until measurement disturbs it => no spooky Voodoo.Two
            interlocked symmetrical counter rotating strings If two counter-rotating strings hit head on
            matter anti matter collision. When they shave side by side => magnetic
            field. Ergo all matter (= stuff that
            exerts gravity) acts like a little black hole. Assuming (what is also most
            probable) that it is a cyclic multi verse affair in which all possible scenarios
            are played out all the time, the Higgs field is thus probably then a glacier of
            unspun large particles moving in and the spinning ones moving out. (easy scenario
            yet never testable only logically consistent. Our visible universe is a sphere
            in the crust of the double crystal like in the crust of our earth. In the center
            it collapses like a magma waterfall to be crushed and due to the law of
            conservation of energy the large ones are brought in spin and shot out into the
            double crystal like a CME of the sun of a yet to form galaxy. There too slowly
            start to form strings speeding up with rising entropy to end up in a large
            black hole in its center to pop out at the other end and disintegrate for the
            pressure there doesn’t exist. The domain where the small fast atom is dominant.
            Pushing the surplus large ones back into the crystal in a never ending cylcle.

            Galloping unicorns?
            Well the SM is filled with former unicorns and since Higgs has a piece of the
            puzzle missing. BTW there is a Polish guy who can build the SM using two
            particles. I can provide those.

            Ergo, there
            is a simple common sense way of looking at it and testing it.

            How do
            psychologists measure creativity? Well they look and see if one has humour.
            Why? Well then you are capable of relativity and out of the box thinking. For that is perceived as funny (and scary for
            laughter is also an emotional response of fear.) Relativity needed in law to
            put one in the place of the other: the victim, the culprit, the photon. Having
            only the mathematical formulas of relativity might lead you to think that you
            know what that is. But that isn’t so because before you know it you will be
            extrapolating the formula out of its domain as Adrean nicely puts it, and you
            end up in the Escher institute thinking that water steams upwards and something
            comes from nothing.

            I thus
            claim to have proven a concept. Yet to be tested. This thus proves a prime
            suspect. The latter not being the culprit. It could be something completely different.
            Indeed.

          • Skanik

            Everyone accepts Hubble's Law ?

            I don't, I think there is something radically wrong with
            our estimates of the size and age of the Universe.

          • Gerhard Ris

            Well, I trust science to provide us with accurate observations that mathematically correlate according to the formulas of Hubbles law. Everyone in his/her right mind should IMO. Yet what the observations mean in the sense whether or not there is more to be found out, is a different matter. As you see I don't rule out the possibility that a Champagne bubble scenario exists. On the circumstantial evidence of a probable integral and testable concept. If what I stating is halfway correct then indeed as you state our universe must be extremely larger then current science very accurately seems to be able to predict it to be. What you for your reasons also believe. So then the quantum reality problem is potentially solved. Specifically the anomalies in redshift should be there if I'm right, yet if this will be in a measurable way I don't know. Photons that have traveled billions of years have also gone trough different gravity fields messing things up.

          • Skanik

            Gerhard,

            I agree. I think it is rather dodgy to assume the little corner
            of the Universe we live is is absolutely indicative of the
            whole Universe.

          • http://www.math.leidenuniv.nl/~gill Richard D. Gill

            Fred and my discussion may be continued here:

            http://www.sciphysicsforums.com/spfbb1/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=6

    • G

      Yo everyone, this turns into a nasty arguement that's something of a digression from the discussion of the article. To avoid it, skip down to the bottom of the page and click the link for "load more comments," that gets you into the next page, where hopefully the present digression doesn't continue.

    • Gerhard Ris

      This thread system takes some getting used to but still: Rereading your discussion with Joy et al, I’ve come back to your initial posting. Indeed you are IMO correct in seeing the heart of the problem lies in getting the cat to meet Occam. I also agree with your what I guess is having the future branch out as a game of pure chance within deterministic boundaries. Yet you guess wrong IMO when you put the many worlds off as a many words smokescreen. Where you as a statistician have gone wrong is not seeing
      that you should go even further away from Rutherford than current physicists have finally understood is needed (finally accepting statistics). You need to go all the way to Bayes. I guess that all mathematics can be reduced to Bayes’ theorem and that Gödel who states that not all mathematics can be stated in one axiomatic way is thus wrong. Bayes lets you guess and approximate infinitely if need be, Gödel doesn’t. Creative guesswork is in order. That is inherently inaccurate. Bayes and Occam of which the lex parsimony forces you to use words and not mathematics, in a court room looking at a CSI as on questions like this one. That inaccuracy (a bandwidth thereof) doesn’t matter as long as it leads to accurate testing.

      As Adrian IMO correctly points out within their respective domains both GR & QM will collapse. This collapse can be seen as a metaphor of mathematically squeezing out a GR citron & a QM orange, knowing that MN
      must be one sort of citrus fruit. Physics is going to get less and less return
      on investment trying to squeeze more juice out trying to marry the two. You
      only get more relevant data. That should mean that getting to the solution should become more simple instead of harder. With DE and DM the picture is becoming more difficult (we observe more apples falling up instead of down.) with rise in relevant data. => a garbage in problem is most probable.

      Believing in something from nothing like Krauss et all or hoping to solve the problem via not addressing all fundamental questions via current physics dogma such as: do you assume the universe is infinite or not or that the question is irrelevant? Is in effect making a guess done by a mental six year old. If you take it to be infinite and filled with an infinite amount of moving un-split-table mass you’ve got pressure in the system. All matter acting as little black holes. This could be so, and if so current physics will – thus -never – solve it holding on to the dogma like a baboon to a paradigm banana. Of which current psychology shows that they must then be in a confirmation bias.

      What is physics garbage in assumption? Well easy: speeds max c; and light has no inference => not moving physical mass but a photon is a massless gravity exerting energy packet causing waves. But that is a never observed galloping unicorn. As a pure paradigm shift (i.e. same evidence different view). We already observe photons > c, just see it accelerate. When it is moving un-split-able mass, brought in spin no problem with the law of conservation of energy because it turns red-shifted in order to pay the price. We also observe that light has interference in the double slit
      experiment. Not something from nothing but same stuff in and out of spin is the most probable and simple testable answer. So support doing those tests.

      ps I've not committed the fallacy of metaphor because the metaphor are used as clarification of the argument, and no more. And I've only supplemented one galloping unicorn photon, with two other yet to be discovered via the proposed testing. If true however one will remain in the cave of Plato. Yet when you strike it rich the formula's will prove to work. Remember all of the SM is filed with former galloping unicorns.

  • DrPeebles

    Life is not "happening to" us ......its something we're doing.
    I love Norman Friedman's book:
    "Bridging Science and Spirit: Common Elements in David Bohm's Physics, the Perennial Philosophy and Seth"
    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/151888.Bridging_Science_and_Spirit

  • vervy1

    "If we do an experiment with an uncertain outcome, Everett’s proposal says that everything that could possibly happen (including the very unlikely outcomes) will in fact take place. It’s possible that Everettians can sketch some explanation of why it seems to ‘us’ (really, to any one of our many future successors) that ‘we’ see only one outcome."

    Answer: The one that happens, the one we observe, is the one from "our" perspective that requires the minimum amount of additional energy (similar to why a ball falls down, rather than sideways). Inject additional energy, at the right "angle," from the perspective of the observer, and you will get a less probably outcome.

  • Kyle Childers

    You're looking at now, sir. Everything that happens now, is happening now.
    What happened to then?
    We passed then.
    When?
    Just now. We're at now, now.
    Go back to then.
    When?
    Now.
    I can't.
    Why?
    We missed it.
    When?
    Just now.
    When will then be now?
    Soon.

    • Per Sterud

      "I knew it! I'm surrounded by Assholes!" - Hugh Everett III

  • Rusty

    It is depressing to see that as usual the physicists spend far more time attacking each other's theories than they do thinking about ways to rescue the cat.

    • G

      Here's your cat-rescue: my nonviolent version of the Schroedinger thought-experiment.

      Schroedinger was of the generation who had witnessed the horrors of WW1 including the use of poison gas on the battlefield. Thus, to provoke an emotional reaction among his peers, that would emphasise his point that the Copenhagen interpretation was counter-intuitive, he used a vial of poison gas in the box with the cat, and the blunt self-contradiction of the cat being simultaneously alive and dead.

      Let's replace the poison gas with a harmless vial of anaesthetic.

      Now our cat is simultaneously awake and asleep, until we open the box to observe the macro outcome of the wave-function collapse.

      Thereby we rescue the cat from a WW1-era horror, and provide at most a brief period of anaesthetised slumber to make the point. Meoww!

      • Rusty

        I like it! And he history lesson is interesting.

        Oddly enough I seem to spend a large amount of time in a quantum state of being half asleep. I feel research paper coming on . . . zzzzzz

      • wannabe

        Since the normal state of a cat is asleep, this would be a distinction without a difference.

  • johnmerryman

    As extremely complex conscious organisms on the surface of a small planet, who knows what effects our own perceptions and assumptions have on these efforts to disentangle this reality.
    I would offer two basic observations about our relationship with nature which might play into our interpretation of it; As points of perception, we experience our dynamic environment as a sequence of events and so perceive this effect called 'time,' where the point of occurrence, called the present, moves along a vector from prior events to subsequent ones. Given much of civilization, from narrative to causal logic, is based on this perception, it seems rather fundamental, yet the larger process is not so linear. It is the constantly changing configuration of what is, that turns future potential into past circumstance. It is the future becoming past. For example, the earth does not need to travel some extra dimensional passage from yesterday to tomorrow, because tomorrow becomes yesterday because the earth rotates. We only experience the present because that is what is physically real. Duration is not a timeline with points of present stuck on it. It is what is physically happening between particular events.
    This makes time an effect of action, similar to temperature. Different clocks run at different rates because they are all separate actions and subject to separate influences. Faster clocks don't move into the future quicker, so much as they age and burn out faster, thus receding into the past more rapidly.
    So it is that probability collapses into actuality. It is the dynamic process itself which determines the outcome. The future is probabilistic because it is only the actual occurrence of the event that can calculate all possible input into it.
    On top of that, since this process is constantly reconfiguring the form of reality, the past is rapidly lost as well. Even as they occur, events are subject to interpretation and perspective, so as they recede into memory, this perception continues to be affected and changed.
    This then goes to my second point; Knowledge is necessarily static, but the underlaying reality is inherently dynamic. Think of the words we use; If they did not retain consistency of meaning, as well as our quest for patterns that remain constant and can be described as laws, how would we even hold this conversation? Yet the underlaying reality is of near phantom energies flitting about at speeds that defy comprehension. To put it bluntly, understanding this reality is like putting postit notes on the wind.
    So yes, our scientists and physicists have done brilliantly in extracting the knowledge they have and the potential to extract more is vaster than we will likely ever conceive, but we should be careful not to overlook our own blind spots, or we start chasing after dark energies that have no real proof, other than filling gaps between that we think and what we see.

  • Guest

    I really don't get this article. I understand what it's saying, I just don't see the problem. First, it uses what seems like a poor analogy (the mystery friend who delivered flowers is not like a high speed particle collider). We're complex organisms, easily distinguishable from one another, whereas elementary particles have (at most) a few distinguishing signatures, which are obviously altered (or destroyed) in high speed particle collisions. A better analogy might be firing two identical nuclear missiles at one another (distinguishable by only a serial number imprinted on the missiles), and after they collide and explode (where they're both destroyed, releasing their energy), trying to then determine which of the two missiles destroyed a particular building on the earth below. Moreover, what's to say we won't acquire this ability in the future? Finally, why is this even important in the context of describing nature? Disclaimer: while I have a scientific background, it's not in QM (although I've taken some physics). Also, I thought the Copenhagen interpretation does provide a physical description of the wave function; although, admittedly, the idea of quantum superposition seems to be nonsensical. Why can't a wave be the energy emanating from a particle, and why isn't interference a sufficient explanation (without the need to imagine a particle in all possible eigenstates)?

  • Guest

    I really don't get this article. I understand what it's saying, I just don't see the problem. First, it uses what seems like a poor analogy (the mystery friend who delivered flowers is not like a high speed particle collider). We're complex organisms, easily distinguishable from one another, whereas elementary particles have (at most) a few distinguishing signatures, which are obviously altered (or destroyed) in high speed particle collisions. A better analogy might be firing two identical nuclear missiles at one another (distinguishable by only a serial number imprinted on the missiles), and after they collide and explode (where they're both destroyed, releasing their energy), trying to then determine which of the two missiles destroyed a particular building on the earth below. Moreover, what's to say we won't acquire this ability in the future? Finally, why is this even important in the context of describing nature? In the case of the nuclear missile hypothetical, isn't it enough to be able to determine that two nuclear missiles collided with one another (is there any value in knowing which missile did what)? Disclaimer: while I have a scientific background, it's not in QM (although I've taken some physics). Also, I thought the Copenhagen interpretation does provide a physical description of the wave function; although, admittedly, the idea of quantum superposition seems to be nonsensical. Why can't a wave be the energy emanating from a particle, and why isn't interference a sufficient explanation (without the need to imagine a particle in all possible eigenstates)?

  • Guest

    I really don't get this article. I understand what it's saying, I just don't see the problem. First, it uses what seems like a poor analogy (the mystery friend who delivered flowers is not like a high speed particle collider). We're complex organisms, easily distinguishable from one another, whereas elementary particles have (at most) a few distinguishing signatures, which are obviously altered (or destroyed) in high speed particle collisions. A better analogy might be firing two identical nuclear missiles at one another (distinguishable by only a serial number imprinted on the missiles), and after they collide and explode (where they're both destroyed, releasing their energy), trying to then determine which of the two missiles destroyed a particular building on the earth below. Moreover, what's to say we won't acquire this ability in the future? Finally, why is this even important in the context of describing nature? In the case of the nuclear missile hypothetical, isn't it enough to be able to determine that two nuclear missiles collided with one another (is there any value in knowing which missile did what)? Disclaimer: while I have a scientific background, it's not in QM (although I've taken some physics). Also, I thought the Copenhagen interpretation does provide a physical description of the wave function; although, admittedly, the idea of quantum superposition seems to be nonsensical. Why can't a wave be the energy emanating from a particle, and why isn't interference a sufficient explanation (without the need to imagine a particle in all possible eigenstates)? Finally, what's so problematic about not being able to pin point certain phenomena with exactness (we still understand what's happening in most cases)?

  • Guest

    I really don't get this article. I understand what it's saying, I just don't see the problem. First, it uses what seems like a poor analogy (the mystery friend who delivered flowers is not like a high speed particle collider). We're complex organisms, easily distinguishable from one another, whereas elementary particles have (at most) a few distinguishing signatures, which are obviously altered (or destroyed) in high speed particle collisions. A better analogy might be firing two identical nuclear missiles at one another (distinguishable by only a serial number imprinted on the missiles), and after they collide and explode (where they're both destroyed, releasing their energy), trying to then determine which of the two missiles destroyed a particular building on the earth below. Moreover, what's to say we won't acquire this ability in the future? Additionally, why is this even important in the context of describing nature? In the case of the nuclear missile hypothetical, isn't it enough to be able to determine that two nuclear missiles collided with one another (is there any value in knowing which missile did what)? Disclaimer: while I have a scientific background, it's not in QM (although I've taken some physics). Also, I thought the Copenhagen interpretation does provide a physical description of the wave function; although, admittedly, the idea of quantum superposition seems to be nonsensical. Why can't a wave be the energy emanating from a particle, and why isn't interference a sufficient explanation (without the need to imagine a particle in all possible eigenstates)? Finally, what's so problematic about not being able to pin point certain phenomena with exactness (we still understand what's happening in most cases)?

    • G

      Re. a couple of your points:

      First, don't get stuck on the 'flowers' analogy if it doesn't make sense to you. The point was that the probabilities of the outcomes of certain QM experiments don't add up in the expected manner. This suggests some kind of nonlocal variables, and in fact we do find nonlocality, so there is at least a rough approximation of a solution for this part of the puzzle. Pinning it down with greater precision will be difficult.

      Second, what's problematic about pinpointing certain phenomena, is that certain kinds of measurements are mutually exclusive. Mundane macro examples are easy to see: for instance you can't measure the exact position and velocity of an automobile at the same point in time, because by definition any velocity above zero, relative to the point of measurement, entails a changing position. (However this line of arguement won't get you out of a speeding ticket.)

      And as you said, inability to pinpoint phenomena with complete precision does not stop us making practical uses of them.

  • Guest

    I really don't get this article. I understand what it's saying, I just don't see the problem. First, it uses what seems like a poor analogy (the mystery friend who delivered flowers is not like a high speed particle collider). We're complex organisms, easily distinguishable from one another, whereas elementary particles have (at most) a few distinguishing signatures, which are obviously altered (or destroyed) in high speed particle collisions. A better analogy might be firing two identical nuclear missiles at one another (distinguishable by only a serial number imprinted on the missiles), and after they collide and explode (where they're both destroyed, releasing their energy), trying to then determine which of the two missiles destroyed a particular building on the earth below. Moreover, what's to say we won't acquire this ability in the future? Additionally, why is this even important in the context of describing nature? In the case of the nuclear missile hypothetical, isn't it enough to be able to determine that two nuclear missiles collided with one another (is there any value in knowing which missile did what)? Disclaimer: while I have a scientific background, it's not in QM (although I've taken some physics). Also, I thought the Copenhagen interpretation does provide a physical description of the wave function; although, admittedly, the idea of quantum superposition seems nonsensical. Why can't a wave be the energy emanating from a particle, and why isn't interference a sufficient explanation (without the need to imagine a particle in all possible eigenstates)? Finally, what's so problematic about not being able to pin point certain phenomena with exactness (we still understand what's happening in most cases)?

  • Frank Jenkins

    I really don't get this article. I understand what it's saying, I just don't see the problem. First, it uses what seems like a poor analogy (the mystery friend who delivered flowers is not like a high speed particle collider). We're complex organisms, easily distinguishable from one another, whereas elementary particles have (at most) a few distinguishing signatures, which are obviously altered (or destroyed) in high speed particle collisions. A better analogy might be firing two identical nuclear missiles at one another (distinguishable by only a serial number imprinted on the missiles), and after they collide and explode (where they're both destroyed, releasing their energy), trying to then determine which of the two missiles destroyed a particular building on the earth below. Moreover, what's to say we won't acquire this ability in the future? Additionally, why is this even important in the context of describing nature? In the case of the nuclear missile hypothetical, isn't it enough to be able to determine that two nuclear missiles collided with one another (is there any value in knowing which missile did what)? Disclaimer: while I have a scientific background, it's not in QM (although I've taken some physics). Also, I thought the Copenhagen interpretation does provide a physical description of the wave function; although, admittedly, the idea of quantum superposition seems nonsensical. Why can't a wave be the energy emanating from a particle, and why isn't interference a sufficient explanation (without the need to imagine a particle in all possible eigenstates ... maybe it's just a matter of mathematical convenience, but still, I think the article makes quite a leap)? Finally, what's so problematic about not being able to pin point certain phenomena with exactness (we still understand what's happening in most cases)?

  • MandoZink

    I was deeply immersed in the subject of this article when I began to experience a peculiar simultaneous unfolding of the many-worlds multiverse of Frank Jenkins's comments. Am I the only one?

  • Emily

    I think the fundamental problem is that they're looking at things on completely the wrong scale. Instead of the Large Hadron Collider, we should be looking at the opposite end of the spectrum and look at the very tiny. The Tiny Hadron Collider if you will or THC - It'd be a lot easier to build and would take up a ridiculously small footprint. Think Tiny !

    • Zaoldyeck

      We have an entire branch of physics dedicated to studying very low energetic interactions, condensed matter physics. CERN has plenty of condensed matter physicists working there as well.

      Although colliding low energy hydrogen atoms wouldn't yield much of scientific value, since either you'll end up with H2, or just hydrogen ions bouncing off each other. We've covered that area of the spectrum quite well.

      That will tell you very little about the structure of hadrons, or the nature of quarks.

      • Emily

        I believe it is possible that even the condensed matter physicists are still thinking too big. I'm talking about matter that is so small it can almost co-exist between dimensions

        I also worry that so much boshing and bashing of atoms is not going to yield the results you might expect. For example; working within the flow of an atom or a wave or a particle rather than violently hitting it until you get the answer you want.

        • Zaoldyeck

          "I'm talking about matter that is so small it can almost co-exist between dimensions"

          I am not sure what you mean by this, nor what your definition of a 'dimension' is, but if you want very small particles, then your ONLY hope is to break up bigger particles and study the interactions that happen between them. That requires high energy physics, that is, the LHC.

          Think of it like this, one of the major foundational axioms of physics is the "principle of least action". It has a robust mathematical form, but basically it states nature tends to be boring. Low energy states go to their most natural dense configuration. You can study some interesting quantum mechanical phenomenon when you get matter in low energy states, but you can't go looking at the constituent elementary particles that make up atoms.

          I get the feeling that you believe nature happens to function differently from how reality has demonstrated.

          • Emily

            Nature is probably the least boring thing you will ever encounter. Is it possible that the "principle of least action" is a flawed and incomplete theory?

            The title of this article is "Our Quantum Reality Problem" - I put it to you that the reason this problem exists is that reality does indeed function quite differently from how it has demonstrated thus far. .

            You're still not thinking in a tiny enough way -until Macro Quantum Entanglement starts being considered seriously you will never find the answers you're seeking.

          • Zaoldyeck

            "Nature is probably the least boring thing you will ever encounter."

            Depends on your perception of "exciting". There's a beautiful thing about the cleanness of "things abide by the easiest most likely path", but there's very little room to argue that this is less boring than "things abide by totally random chaotic and weird paths"

            Physics really doesn't make much sense without it. I mean, even explaining something as simple as "why does an object knocked from my desk fall to the ground?" Or, even more importantly, "why can I draw out trajectories for the path of the object at all?"

            It's built into our equations from General Relativity all the way down to Quantum Mechanics, and if it is flawed, is certainly not flawed over any energy scales we've already investigated.

            Now the interactions between atoms at very low energies IS quite interesting, but it's a very different thing from understanding the constituent building blocks of matter.

            You also have to keep in mind that getting lower and lower energies, likewise, requires a LOT of energy. So basically you're stating "well we should push the other side of the envelope, really highly complex bose enstein condensates and the like", but pretty quickly you've got major billion dollar laser setups to bring a speck of dust to close to absolute zero.

            I'm not saying we shouldn't continue to do condensed matter research, but I am saying that it's silly to expect breakthroughs to come from cold matter physics as opposed to high energy physics, especially when it's high energy physics that has given us the structure of hadrons in the first place.

  • Thomas Ray

    Nice article, Adrian.

    This statement:

    "To do science, we need to able to test statements such as ‘there’s a one-in-three chance X will happen to us’ and ‘it’s incredibly unlikely that Y will happen to us’ – but it isn’t at all obvious that Everett’s ideas support any such statements."
    is due, I think, for re-examination. It assumes a priori that foundational reality is probabilistic, and the proof of Bell's theorem only exacerbates the belief, because it cannot survive without a prior assumption of probability and nonlocality. It is nonconstructive, proving only what it assumes.
    Mathematically complete theories -- Einstein's relativity -- do not suffer from this incompleteness. Their predictions are one to one correspondent with experimental phenomena.

  • andrewp111

    What kind of experiment could show that the Many Worlds Interpretation is true? It seems to me that you would have to show that time is multidimensional in some manner. You would have to send a signal faster than light or backward in time, and by doing so communicate with an alternate world.

    It could be that the invisible web of lightspeed quantum connections between every particle in the universe is what holds our self-consistent history together. If that is the case, transmitting any signal off of the light cone would be communicating with an alternate history. How it all fits together could be very complicated if there is finite room for alternate histories - in which case nature would be continually collapsing alternate time paths to minimize the hyperspace they occupy. The notion that there is a direction to history, or that mystical forces guide human history could ultimately come from such physics. Now, devise an experiment that can confirm or refute such notions. Can anyone?

    • G

      Entanglement enables producing effects outside the local light cone, but per theory and thus far empirically, it's not possible to send an actual signal that way.

      -- Wild speculation below, outside of mainstream science --

      I'm inclined to believe that a hypothetical setup with sufficient redundancy might partially bypass the non-signalling constraint by being able to send "signals" that are necessarily imprecise to some estimable degree of uncertainty. For example in conventional nonlocality experiments, Alice manipulates a polarising filter and Bob receives photons that are either vertically or horizontally polarised, but Bob can't determine exactly which photons were affected by Alice's action at the other end of the circuit.

      In the hypothetical 'sufficiently redundant' experiment, Bob receives (for example) a statistically significantly higher number of vertically polarised photons compared to horizontally polarised ones, and then can reasonably infer that Alice's actions caused that outcome. However Bob still has no way of ascertaining exactly which of his vertically polarised photons were the ones that Alice affected. This to some extent preserves the non-signalling aspect of nonlocality in mainstream theory.

      Where the speculation becomes wilder is that if you can bias the statistics of the outcome for a given batch of photons, you can use that bias as the equivalent of a digital bit. A batch of photons with more vertical photons counts as a 1, and a batch with more horizontal photons counts as a 0. Someone around here with a physics degree can probably tell me where this is 'not even wrong,' but until then it's at least mildly tempting;-)

      The idea that such a thing could be used to communicate across time, is useful in philosophical thought-experiments involving time paradoxes. For example, the idea that information is transmissible but kinetic interactions are not: you can't 'shoot your grandfather' before he conceived your mother or father, but you could 'call him on the tele-time phone and ask him to use contraceptives'. There are still elements of uncertainty, as he might or might not use contraceptives, and the contraceptives might or might not work, but in the observable universe you still continue to exist.

      I'm more sceptical that redundant nonlocal transmission could be used to communicate between diverged universes. The reason for this is, the past eventually converges with the present, but multiplying universes diverge permanently.

      --- end of wild speculation ---

      In general I'm sceptical of multiple-universe theories specifically because at present they appear to be untestable. If Adrian's ideas turn out to be correct, there may be a scale of observation on which we could begin to detect the divergence of universes, so I'll be alert about any findings that point in that direction.

  • jimbo in limbo

    Maybe the math is just wrong. It's an electric universe.

  • Randy

    Excellent article. It is unusual to find an article that correctly describes the collapse and many worlds dilemma, which has driven many a physics student up the wall. The spontaneous collapse models are currently ad-hoc, but as pointed out, so was QM itself at it's inception.

  • johnwerneken

    I actually think I understand the question! And may possibly live to see some kind of answer.

  • hvaiallverden

    What if, and this requires a 3 part cooperation.

    Reality.
    If you have potetiale initiating probabilitys, then stil there is nothing if not obsreved.
    The many world theorem only works if the manipulation of the initiator, by manipulatin the initiator, both possibilitys and/or probabilitys can be altered or colapse into other physical realitys, not bound by any law, of time/space-
    The ability to manipulate, will rise, since all possible outcomes are there, the conditions are already there.
    Its not many universes, its the interpitation/obsrevation of it that alters and thereby also the constrains of this physical reality, entagled into the other side, this ables time travel and so on, the problem is to utelise the abilitys to brake the weild.

    Like a holograpich image, the angles/momentum of the observable light, and since its in a invirioment capable of prodject an image, then matter/image/information rises, but what we define as our reality, is not "unreal", but when the rise of consciousness ocures, the "weild" is been made able to be manipulated. And this can even have the effect of matter once manifested right infront of you may either go away, or transform to something else.
    This is why I belive Consciousness, at least, is the ruling fundament of the present interpitations of a possible multiverses theory.
    All there, but needs to be made real.

    I see this also in the light of entanglement of photons, and hopefully this description is claryfing.

    I all humbleness, a wery god article, clarifying to..

    peace

  • Kieran Garland

    Another superb article.

  • Howard Treesong

    Cute piece. -If- it is true that all possible iterations of all possible interactions are already available, then it must mean that the underlying physics applies all across the spectrum of realities that exist. Unless, and here is where my left hemisphere starts to hurt: all possible laws and values for the building blocks of the universe -also- fall under that equation.

    If this is an experiment, where we are the thing that goes on between the start [Big Bang] and the end of the experiment [Big Crunch?] then an outside observer is just running this experiment. We are then a product of a mind-state. We have just achieved enough sentience to understand something like this is happening without knowing how it happens.

    Conversely: -if- we are what is happening between the start state and the end state, maybe we are the thing that happens to stuff on the way from one end of the equation to the other. We would then be the thing Schrodinger's cat encounters in the box. We are then a self-aware recursive loop inside the universe.

    I'm pretty happy with that conclusion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Boon-Tee-Tan/1068880297 Boon Tee Tan

    "While the mathematics of quantum theory works very well in telling us what to expect at the end of an experiment, it seems peculiarly conceptually confusing when we try to understand what was happening during the experiment. To calculate what outcomes we might expect when we fire protons at one another in the Large Hadron Collider, we need to analyse what – at first sight – look like many different stories. The same final set of particles detected after a collision might have been generated by lots of different possible sequences of energy exchanges involving lots of different possible collections of particles. We can’t tell which particles were involved from the final set of detected particles."

    I like this particular paragraph. Just wondering if it indirectly questions or negates the real existence of Higg's boson. Math should be a very essential and useful tool of physics, not the master. (btt1943)

  • contravariant

    As far as I'm aware QM doesn't encompass gravitation, so we know it's not 'complete'. Perhaps when that unification is achieved we can stop busting our heads over the 'meaning' of it all. Perhaps...

  • Matt

    This article was great until you started talking about Higgs boson as if we knew what the hell you were talking about. Continuing to read...

  • Skanik

    It might help if those interested in the Paradoxical Nature of Quantum Theory
    read Plato's Parmenides and paid very close attention the last part where
    Aristotle and Parmenides discuss how what is most fundamental can be recognised
    and ultimately known. Then read Leibniz's Monadology.

    Then you will understand why there cannot be a Theory of Everything and
    why whatever is Fundamental cannot be expressed.

    • skanik

      Also the Cratylus by Plato will help explain

      why the search for an ultimate particle/manifold/wave

      cannot be successful - let alone understood - thus unexplainable.

    • G

      Even simpler: Godel's incompleteness. One can't prove every axiom in a system from within that system.

      However this does not mean that the universe is incomprehensible, only that there will necessarily be areas of uncertainty in our best available theories. But even those uncertainties will not prevent making testable predictions and putting the results to use in practical ways.

      • Gerhard Ris

        I don't agree with you. The fact that we know since Plato that absolute truth can't be known (i.e. the cave of Plato) doesn't mean that there isn't an absolute truth. And it doesn't mean you can't guess this truth correctly. It only means you will never be able to absolutely prove it.

        As for Gobel I don't agree with you either. Gobel doesn't deal with Bayes IMO, or is otherwise complete as a theorem on everything being the topic. See this Wiki:

        Limitations of Gödel's theorems[edit]

        The conclusions of Gödel's theorems are only proven for the formal theories that satisfy the necessary hypotheses. Not all axiom systems satisfy these hypotheses, even when these systems have models that include the natural numbers as a subset. For example, there are first-order axiomatizations of Euclidean geometry, of real closed fields, and of arithmetic in which multiplication is not provably total; none of these meet the hypotheses of Gödel's theorems. The key fact is that these axiomatizations are not expressive enough to define the set of natural numbers or develop basic properties of the natural numbers. Regarding the third example, Dan Willard (2001) has studied many weak systems of arithmetic which do not satisfy the hypotheses of the second incompleteness theorem, and which are consistent and capable of proving their own consistency (see self-verifying theories).

        Gödel's theorems only apply to effectively generated (that is, recursively enumerable) theories. If all true statements about natural numbers are taken as axioms for a theory, then this theory is a consistent, complete extension of Peano arithmetic (called true arithmetic) for which none of Gödel's theorems apply in a meaningful way, because this theory is not recursively enumerable.

        The second incompleteness theorem only shows that the consistency of certain theories cannot be proved from the axioms of those theories themselves. It does not show that the consistency cannot be proved from other (consistent) axioms. For example, the consistency of the Peano arithmetic can be proved in Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory (ZFC), or in theories of arithmetic augmented with transfinite induction, as in Gentzen's consistency proof.

        • Skanik

          Gehard,

          Good points about over extending Godel.

          My point was not about the Cave, but about the simple

          reality that if I explain something to you it must be in terms

          of something else.

          I present you with a monad - with what terms/concepts

          will you explain it to me ? If it is an absolute simple,

          as Aristotle pointed out, there is nothing to compare

          it to/with - no way to explain it as it exists outside

          our linguistic context.

          • Gerhard Ris

            I agree. Yet you should IMO distinguish between what absolute reality might exist and our perception of that. Let's say for sake of the argument that my concept of everything is correct. Then the entire infinite universe is built up of only three things: absolute nothing and two very small particles one yin small and one Yang larger and slower. Both > c. So we take in any point of time a very short time frame t1-t2 a deterministic beginning and if we assume these two particles to be un-splitable and containing mass then these actual atoms will in my concept mathematically lead to a stable multiverse that has always been there and will always remain in an infinite cycle in which all - possible - scenarios are played out all the time. So a yin and yang of order and chaos from a yin deterministic yang chance. Our perception of this reality is indeed as you say dependent on the reference we have. A very nice example (can't remember if I already gave it in an other post) was in a BBC documentary with neurologist Oliver Sachs who got a patient who had been permanently blind and had a successful eye operation. He could view but not see. So he was taken by Sachs to the zoo to see a gorilla. He indeed saw nothing. Then he was taken to a bronze statue for the blind of a gorilla. After that he quickly spotted the gorilla and subsequently the trees etc..Yet our perception of reality is our reality and not the actual reality. Yet if we go at it in the correct way, we should be able to get very close to this actual reality by guessing correctly. Because then all predictions will be very accurately be proven correct. We humans are very good guessers. Some better than others. This not only has to do with speed of brain but also personality i.e. openness. I.e. the perception of different personalities is different. The correct way of doing it is by verbal logic integrating all observations taken in their essence and making a guess. take the guess as fact and see if you can accurately test that. You can IMO thus both proving and disproving the topic.

          • Gerhard Ris

            To add to what I stated my two particles in my concept can be formed into two strings being then can be formed probably into the SM via a route that has been made by this polish guy: http://www.ultimate-theory.com/en/2012/12/21/how-to-build-universe-with-just-two-particles

  • Dellenbaugh

    I really enjoyed this article - I would have enjoyed seeing the author chew on the idea of observer participation as put forward by Wheeler in 1984; surely there is a place for that idea within this discussion?

    I am sometimes struck by a comparison between pre-renaissance scholasticism on the Nature of God and the back and forth epistemological hand-wringing that seems to go in in theoretical physics. Even the greatest minds (much greater than mine) must remember that for all mathematic's ability to reveal insights into the universe it is nevertheless a human construction, formed from our imaginations: it is not Reality.

    To quote (what I think is an error) from the author's own account:

    'Quantum theory might not be fundamentally correct, but it would not have
    worked so well for so long if its strange and beautiful mathematics did
    not form an important part of the deep structure of nature.'

    Should read:

    'Quantum theory might not be fundamentally correct, but it would not have
    worked so well for so long if its strange and beautiful mathematics did
    not DESCRIBE an important part of the deep structure of nature.'

    I hope this is an interesting point to some. I look forward to reading more of Adrian Kent's work in Aeon, my new favourite read.

    • G

      Agreed, I see a lot of commonalities between present debates in core sciences, and the philosophical and theological debates that were at the intellectual cutting-edge in earlier times. One might even speak of "denominations" in e.g. physics, chemistry, and biology

      • Dellenbaugh

        If you had a chance, I'd be interested to read more of your thoughts on the comparison. I don't understand your thoughts on denominations being similar to the divisions in core sciences; can you explain?

        For me the over-riding comparison is the use of mathematics as a start to finish tool of intellectual inquiry with the pre-renaissance mindset that all philosophical pursuit must begin and end within the confines of an all-encompassing God.

        For the Scholastics, this meant that their inquiry into the natural world was limited, and yet it lead to a very interesting method of inquiry, the didactic back and forth of reason; the perfection of logical arguments. I sense (from an arctic waste of intellectual no man's land) that physics is going through a simlilar phase of development, where the problems arise from the method; not so much the Universe to which the method is pointed.

  • Skanik

    I am struck that the competing physicists who have made previous comments

    cannot play nice.

    Why do we suppose that the 3 pounds of porridge between our ears must, must

    be able to understand the universe ?

    Because Scientists, whether they realise it or not still believe in the

    Philosophical/Theological tradition that the human Mind is in someway

    semi-divine and God has constructed the Universe to be understandable.

    [A view I hold. ] Why atheistic/agnostic scientist sbelieve that we will one

    day understand the Universe seems astounding given how small our

    porridge bowls are.

    • G

      "The porridge between our ears" is the most complex object in the known universe, having something on the order of 2^26 computational elements. Whether that object partakes of divinity is a subject for theology, and is undecidable from within empirical science.

      You raise an interesting point that the assumption that the universe is comprehensible is effectively a Deist belief, even among those who profess atheism. I like that; it's somewhere between mischievous and subversive in a positive way, that calls for us to think more clearly about our assumptions.

      In general, we do see the widespread belief among scientists and laypeople alike, that the universe is comprehensible. This does not correlate with their beliefs about the existence or nonexistence of deities. But the prospect of a Deist streak in atheists is intriguing in the same way as the prospect of a sceptical streak in theists.

      The belief that the universe is not in any way comprehensible to humans, would seem to entail a kind of thorough nihilisim as a precondition, and that in turn would implicate chronic depression as a proximate cause.

      • Skanik

        Hi G,

        I remember finding out that E = MC^2 is not the exact form of

        the equation but a truncated version of it.

        [ Evidently it is E = MC^2 + 1/2(v/c)^2 + 3/8(V/c)^4...]

        And I thought, well it is all approximations...this is not Truth,

        this is not even an approximation of the Truth but only man made

        models based up statistics and infinite expressions.

        I have no idea if the neuronal porridge between our brains will

        understand Quantum Mechanics or not - but it is quite a stretch -

        if you do not believe a Divine Hand constructed the Universe to

        be understandable by Minds like ours - to think that it must

        be understandable by us.

  • Phillip Young

    The multiverse, many-world interpretation seems the most parsimonious from a mathematical point of view, but it seems difficult to make the jump that these other realities exist empirically. The implications cannot but eventuate absurd universes that violate everyday commonsense or narrative continuity. I prefer Heisenberg's notion of Potentia that satisfies the mathematical demands of quantum theory, yet reserves empirical reality to as yet mysterious reification that slices through Potentia to confer qualia (and drama) to all those witnessing minds (or Mind).

  • Earthstar

    What? No amplituhedron? Must be living in a dream.

  • jake kenner

    Excellent discussion, but what is needed is not a collapse, but a re-interpretation. The only problem is to get the first assumption correct, and then everything else naturally follows from the correct first assumption. Begin with the existence of the observer. The observer is only a point of consciousness present at the center of its own world. In the sense of the principle of equivalence, only the observer enters into a frame of reference, follows a world-line, and makes observations in its own world. This is a natural consequence of Mach's principle and the unification of relativity theory with quantum theory along the lines of non-commutative geometry. The natural consequence of this unification is the holographic principle of modern theoretical physics and the one-world-per-oberver paradigm of modern cosmology (Cosmic Solipsism) which Tom Banks and Amanda Gefter have written about in a very intelligent way. The mathematical formalism of both quantum theory and relativity theory make perfectly good sense as long as they are interpreted in this way, but this interpretation requires the existence of the observer, which must exist before the observer's world is created in a big bang event. The observer's existence as a point of consciousness present at the center of its own world must have a underlying reality. In physics we call that underlying reality the void, which is the same term used in most metaphysical discussions of Absolute reality. Think about it clearly and it all makes sense.

    • joymars2

      There is no such thing as a void, the void, or no thing. It's a concept but can never be an actuality.

      • jake kenner

        To say there is no such thing as the void (a tautology, as the void is the no-thing), is the same as to say there is no such thing as the source of consciousness, or to say there is no such thing as Absolute Reality. In the sense of quantum theory, the void is not an actuality. The void is pure potentiality. All actualities occur in consciousness, while the void or source of consciousness is pure potentiality. In the sense of quantum theory and the holographic principle, all actualities are no more real than projected images composed of bits of information and animated in the flow of energy. Those images are projected from a holographic screen to the central point of view of an observer, just like images on a computer screen. The observer of those projected images can only be described as a point of consciousness, and the source of every observer is the void. The void is also the nature of Absolute Being. The void is what exists before anything is created in the observer's world. As quantum theory tells us, that world only exists because it is being observed, and the observer of that world must exist before that world is created. Before creation occurs, the observer exists as void. It is only the observer that enters into a frame of reference, follows a world-line, and makes observations. As Tom Banks and Amanda Gefter have written about in the one-world-per-observer paradigm, that is how the observer's world is created. Creation is inherently an observer-dependent process. It is logically impossible for the observer to be an image that it can observe. Only the observer is real and has a sense of being present. The source of that sense of being present is the Absolute Being of the void. The observable images are all unreal in the same sense that images of a virtual reality world displayed on a computer screen are unreal. The images have no being. As expressed in the Bhagavad-Gita: "The unreal has no being; the real never ceases to be". As Robert Oppenheimer realized many years ago, the Bhagavad-Gita is required reading if one really wants to understand what theoretical physics is telling us.

  • DrMr

    I disagree with the claim that the Copenhagen interpretation would require an observer to the universe outside of it. Because consciousness might serve as the observer (there are double slit experiments confirming consciousness can impact the result of measurment) and besides that, any thermodynamically irreversible interaction with a quantum system in superposition can determine it's outcome and put it in a definite state without us actually observing it. This is why the principles of quantum mechanics stop at macroscopic levels.

    • DrMr

      I forgot to add, that by consciousness, i don't restrict to human consciousness but implying a universal consciousness, as if the universe posses consciousness required so that the universe would exist in a determined state at macroscopic levels. I am not claiming nothing new, this are existing theories about the quantum mechanics problem, or at least how i see them.

      • Gerhard Ris

        DrMr I don't quite agree with you, yet do agree that the psychology / neurology of the observer should be taken into account. This isn't done properly i.e. we already know quite a bit about this (besides the hell of a lot that we know we don't).BTW the double slit experiment can have a very nice common sense explanation as well, without the need for magic. And, the underlying principle is testable. (the same goes for entanglement BTW)

        Current neurology points more and more in the direction of Bayes in all our brains, and that our perception of consciousness is an illusion. Yet you might see the notion of free will as an algorithm which we differently wired robots need in order to reach the pareto optimum on a collective goal. This all colors the interpretation of anything we think we observe.

        A few years ago there was a very nice BBC documentary with neurologist Oliver Sachs who was asked by a eye doctor who had successfully operated on a born blind person. The eye worked but the patient couldn't see. So Sachs took the guy to a zoo and said look a gorilla. He saw nothing coherent. Only after Sachs had let the guy feel the bronze gorilla for the blind did he spot the gorilla, and soon after that the trees etc. He could see.

        Our brains interpret what we see. Different personalities in different ways.That IMO is at the heart of the problem Adrian is addressing.

        If you have a simple common sense testable prime suspect yet you choice not to test, yet go for the counter intuitive bizar because the mathematics seems to show it, and thus not spotting to be in a whopping garbage in problem, you are in a Bayesian inversion.

        What is needed is a paradigm shift: i.e. a reinterpretation of existing evidence and thus also a look in how we humans do this interpreting. Which again must lead to a paradigm shift, namely on how to organize correct interpretation of data, in (astro-) physics conforming to BTW current psychology / neurological insights. In this respect for the latter no such shift is needed in psychology and neurology but in (astro-)physics.

  • Felix Erwin

    The understanding of apparent superluminal communication might require the assumption that the act of observation be itself a higher level dimension. Entanglement could be rationalized in the lower order, and consciousness create the higher order, rather than just passively observe.

  • Lawrence Trevanion

    The traditional problem of interpreting QM is a problem of self reference - it is an attempt to explain something in terms of itself. We explain A in terms of B and if B is A then we regard the explanation as a circular non-explanation. If quantum mechanics serves as an explanation for the real world as we know it then it itself cannot be 'realistic'. A concrete example makes it clear - we see things because of the way scatters off objects. We don't see light itself. Furthermore, light itself cannot be visualized because this would lead to a regressive explanation.

    • Felix Erwin

      That is an interesting perspective, but does not do much to advance a solution. It is true that studying the human intellect with the human intellect is almost preposterous, but that is all we have.

      This is a 100 year old quest to decipher the fundamental nature of reality. All that we have accomplished since is based on a fallacious assumption, that QM is just weird, but nonetheless trustworthy.

      I believe we need to fundamentally shift the paradigm, perhaps we need a weird solution. What I am proposing is that consciousness creates reality, and is conservative. That is, we only get just enough information.

      • Lawrence Trevanion

        I take it you think the problem is "to decipher the fundamental nature of reality".

        I think the problem is one of trying to comprehend the world as we perceive it - 'comprehend' meaning that we use words (words being shared items of the real that have shared meaning). In my view, the evolution of language is a key area of research.

        We use words and they work because the world around us is summarisable - it contains common features. So the question is not whether the universe is perfectly summarisable in language (it may appear to be because, afterall, language works) but rather, what power can language have in the universe?

        What can a language user, who perceives the world as we do, achieve?

        I think it is wrong to say that light IS a wave and light IS a particle. I think the correct understanding is to say that we have combined wave and particle mechanics to 'comprehend' (meaning 'gather together' or 'summarise') the evidence. The way forward is to generalise this remarkable achievement:- generalise perception, generalise languagable regularities. The power of mathematics should be viewed in this light.

        Language reflects the regularity of the world. We use language to deepen our appreciation of the regularity of the world. A final destination such as 'the fundamental nature of reality' can at most be an illusion. The universe is a great deal more interesting.

        Consciousness is likewise a self-reference problem. I find it marvellous that philosophers look at something and then theorize that this something exists and also that their perceptions of that something exist. Berkeley put paid to this theory a long time ago but it has persisted for lack of an alternative. Quite simply, our experience of the world does not imply two types of existences. The world is real, it exists and when we perceive it (experience it) we say "I perceive X" and NOT "I have perceptions of X in my mind."

        So yes, perception and language are interesting, but consciousness is not. Two confusing self reference problems are not the solution to each other.

        • Felix Erwin

          I agree that we cannot yet fathom the depths of what the Universe has to offer, for that we would need to conquer time, but I do believe that it is possible. I also agree we do not need to think of there being two types of existences. This kind of modeling (particle duality), has been helpful for harnessing the power of QM, but it has not lead to an understanding.

          What I do know is that my reality appears to be much larger than my physical body. Since I can use language to convey this, I have to assume concordance. This can be modeled mathematically as a hologram, though the direction of time could be quite arbitrary.

          If consciousness plays any role in QM, that is, affects probability, then I have to believe it is very interesting indeed. After all it did come up with the theory.

          Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so. Douglas Adams (1952 - 2001)

      • Lawrence Trevanion

        I expect my previous comment looks obscure.

        We now understand that an animal or ANOTHER person is a biological machine. My comment about the correct way to articulate, to speak about, OUR OWN experience has this point in mind. It answers the question - what is the correct way for an object that perceives the world to speak about its OWN experience and the relationship of that experience to the world. 'Consciousness' is bad theory and any conception that treats it as an entity or existence is worthless.

        Like perception, we can now see that language is similarly mechanical EXCEPT that the process involves a network of perceivers. How language feels to individual users is not the point. The point is that language is signalling in the real i.e. it depends upon items of real - the auditory or visual (or tactile) items we call words. Thought is nothing more than the imagination of the same. Language involves the development of uniform/conventional responses, which is why the evolution and learning of language is so interesting. But for language to be possible requires a shared perceived world with common features for which words act as a summary. Leastwise, that is how it looks from another planet.

        What can real signallers achieve? Who knows because they are us.

        What can real signallers know about the real and hence themselves? Who knows, but the mechanical process of perception is obviously limiting. Traditionally thinkers have supposed the real was pretty much as we experienced it and that experience was the mystery: - to such an extent that reality was despised and experience was thought to transcend it. It is now clear that the real is not as we experience it and that the mystery of ourselves is the mystery of the real.

        What are we to make of a signaller's boast "to decipher the fundamental nature of reality"? Well its an empty boast because 'reality' is an unknown term. And supposing signallers thought they'd reached the limits of language, how do they preclude the possibility that the universe(s) of this limit may change?

  • joymars2

    Per the comments here, the QM conundrum is really a problem of what consciousness is and isn't. When we get that there are limits to science because it is a creature of our intentionally limited consciousness we will settle down and become better stewards of what we can perceive.

  • MJA

    Einstein was a true searcher looking for this: =

  • Lawrence Trevanion

    "A number of experimental groups around the world are now trying to find the boundaries of (the QM) domain..."

    It is obvious that when we talk about the real world we mean the world as we perceive it. The idea that an explanation of the real world as we perceive it can only be satisfactory if it is in terms of the world as we perceive it is obvious nonsense, all the more so when we consider that we customarily interpret the world, not as we see it, but in terms of atoms, chemistry, and the mechanisms of perception by which we perceive it. The idea that there is or could be a realistic explanation for quantum mechanics is so contrary to the nature of explanation that one marvels at its persistence.

    But the explanation of what something is made of does raise the question of boundaries and this question is not peculiar to QM. Take, for example, wind. We explain wind as an average movement of many atoms and molecules in a particular direction. Enquiring into where wind ends and particles begin may not be an interesting question. And the idea that there IS a boundary with 'wind domain' on one side and 'molecular domain' on the other seems unlikely, to say the least.

  • Bogs_Dollocks

    The search for the classical mechanistic gears and levers clockwork underlying QM goes on . . . and will probably continue forever . . . without success.

  • steve agnew

    "To get a sense of the conceptual mystery we face here, imagine you have three friends, John, Mary and Jo, who absolutely never talk to each other or interact in any other way. If any one of them is in town, there’s a one-in-four chance that this person will bring you flowers on any given day."

    When we finally have a unified quantum gauge, these macro to micro confusions will all go away. You have created macroscopic and coherent people in your example and then applied coherent phase relationships among them that persist over time. You are actually correct in that there is some degree of coherency in all of reality, but the dephasing times are quite small for any macroscopic object.

    There are coherent phases between amplitudes of microscopic objects that are the bases for entanglement, wavefunction collapse, etc. The possibility of such object can realized on any number of different world lines. So what? The fact is that the object will only be realized or observed on one world line. Although such superluminal effects seem mysterious, every particle in the universe goes into and out of existence as it oscillates in time...is that mysterious?

    All of these mysteries are due to a confusion of macro and micro realities and basically these mysteries will go away when we get a unified gauge, i.e., whenever charge and gravity end up with the same quantum action.

  • Gordon Rouse

    The writer talks about the dilemma of quantum mechanics describing infinite by infinite outcomes, yet us the observer seeing only one outcome. I have no solution, however I must point out that this question has another side to it which the writer missed: The very nature of who the observer is.
    Our animal self-awareness should not be forgotten in this mystery, we cannot assume self-awareness is the impartial observer that is separated from the process. If we bring back the possibility of infinite possible outcomes, is the mystery then why we only see one of these, or is it possible that we only choose one of these?
    The "beables" brings back the old universe of pre-determinism and the inevitable dilemma of free-will being an illusion. Everett offers back our free will by allowing our conscious mind to choose a reality. I cannot speculate further, but I see that the mystery of Cosmology is part of the same mystery of self - and cosmology will need to develop a coherent theory of what is an observer to make sense of the observations the observer makes.

  • mpc755

    The problem with mainstream physics is its denial of understanding aether has mass and is displaced by the particles of matter which exist in it and move through it.

    'Interpretation of quantum mechanics by the double solution theory - Louis de BROGLIE'

    http://aflb.ensmp.fr/AFLB-classiques/aflb124p001.pdf

    “When in 1923-1924 I had my first ideas about Wave Mechanics I was looking for a truly concrete physical image, valid for all particles, of the wave and particle coexistence discovered by Albert Einstein in his "Theory of light quanta". I had no doubt whatsoever about the physical reality of waves and particles.”

    “any particle, even isolated, has to be imagined as in continuous “energetic contact” with a hidden medium”

    The hidden medium of de Broglie wave mechanics is the aether. The “energetic contact” is the state of displacement of the aether.

    "For me, the particle, precisely located in space at every instant, forms on the v wave a small region of high energy concentration, which may be likened in a first approximation, to a moving singularity."

    A particle is a moving singularity which has an associated aether displacement wave.

    In a double slit experiment the particle travels a well defined path which takes it through one slit. The associated wave in the aether passes through both. As the aether wave exits the slits it creates wave interference. As the particle exits a single slit the direction it travels is altered by the wave interference. This is the wave piloting the particle of pilot-wave theory. Detecting the particle strongly exiting a single slit destroys the cohesion between the particle and its associated wave in the aether and the particle continues on the trajectory it was traveling.

    In a boat double slit experiment the boat always travels through a single slit and the bow wave passes through both.

    The boat travels through a single slit and the bow wave passes through both whether you detect the boat or not.

    The bow wave is the boat's water displacement wave.

    In a double slit experiment the particle always travels through a single slit and the associated aether displacement wave passes through both.

    The particle travels through a single slit and the associated aether displacement wave passes through both whether you detect the particle or not.

    'New 'Double Slit' Experiment Skirts Uncertainty Principle'

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=new-double-slit-experiment-skirts-uncertainty-principle

    "Intriguingly, the trajectories closely match those predicted by an unconventional interpretation of quantum mechanics known as pilot-wave theory, in which each particle has a well-defined trajectory that takes it through one slit while the associated wave passes through both slits."

    'Team 'sneaks around' quantum rule'

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13626587

    "For his part, Professor Steinberg believes that the result reduces a limitation not on quantum physics but on physicists themselves. "I feel like we're starting to pull back a veil on what nature really is," he said. "The trouble with quantum mechanics is that while we've learned to calculate the outcomes of all sorts of experiments, we've lost much of our ability to describe what is really happening in any natural language. I think that this has really hampered our ability to make progress, to come up with new ideas and see intuitively how new systems ought to behave."

    Seeing intuitively how a double slit experiment behaves is understanding the particle always travels through a single slit and the associated wave in the aether passes through both.

    "The word 'ether' has extremely negative connotations in theoretical physics because of its past association with opposition to relativity. This is unfortunate because, stripped of these connotations, it rather nicely captures the way most physicists actually think about the vacuum. . . . Relativity actually says nothing about the existence or nonexistence of matter pervading the universe, only that any such matter must have relativistic symmetry. [..] It turns out that such matter exists. About the time relativity was becoming accepted, studies of radioactivity began showing that the empty vacuum of space had spectroscopic structure similar to that of ordinary quantum solids and fluids. Subsequent studies with large particle accelerators have now led us to understand that space is more like a piece of window glass than ideal Newtonian emptiness. It is filled with 'stuff' that is normally transparent but can be made visible by hitting it sufficiently hard to knock out a part. The modern concept of the vacuum of space, confirmed every day by experiment, is a relativistic ether. But we do not call it this because it is taboo." - Robert B. Laughlin, Nobel Laureate in Physics, endowed chair in physics, Stanford University

    Matter, a piece of window glass and stuff have mass.

    In a double slit experiment it is the *stuff* which waves.

    • Felix Erwin

      This idea has echos of the push-gravity theory where matter casts a shadow. In light of the recent CMB observation, I wonder if this pilot-wave could be interpreted as gravity?

      • mpc755

        The pilot-wave is not gravity itself. The pilot-wave is the same physical phenomenon as a gravitational wave.

        'Hubble Finds Ghostly Ring of Dark Matter'

        http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/news/dark_matter_ring_feature.html

        "Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope got a first-hand view of how dark matter behaves during a titanic collision between two galaxy clusters. The wreck created a ripple of dark mater, which is somewhat similar to a ripple formed in a pond when a rock hits the water."

        The 'pond' consists of aether.

        The ripple is an aether displacement wave.

        The ripple is a gravitational wave.

        What ripples when galaxy clusters collide is what waves in a double slit experiment; the aether.

        Einstein's gravitational wave is de Broglie's wave of wave-particle duality; both are waves in the aether.

        Aether has mass and is displaced by the particles of matter which exist in it and move through it.

        Displaced aether pushing back and exerting inward pressure toward matter is gravity.

        The state of displacement of the aether *is* gravity.

        A moving particle has an associated aether displacement wave. In a double slit experiment the particle travels through a single slit and the associated wave in the aether passes through both.

        • Felix Erwin

          I think you are saying dark matter is transparent to light and opaque to aether, unlike baryonic matter which is generally opaque to both. DM is like a glass planet. The bow wave of a boat would not stop instantaneously, nor does gravity if it travels in waves. Bell's inequality might be explainable as a function of the aether.

          • mpc755

            There is no such thing as non-baryonic dark matter anchored to matter. Matter moves through and displaces the aether.

            What is referred to as the Milky Way's dark matter halo is the state of displacement of the aether.

            Gravity itself does not travel in waves.

            Displaced aether pushing back and exerting inward pressure toward matter is gravity.

            The state of displacement of the aether *is* gravity.

          • Felix Erwin

            We know of DM indirectly from relativistic effects. I think you could explain gravitational lensing this way. In QM, the collapse of the wave might point to the holographic nature of reality, where there is universal conservation, not unlike a video game. All options are possible, but your view corresponds to (interaction with) a frame of reference. This is not necessarily inconsistent with a shared reality, as the wave could simply stop propagating but continue displacement.

          • mpc755

            The ether is relativistic. Meaning there is no universal reference frame.

            "The word 'ether' has extremely negative connotations in theoretical physics because of its past association with opposition to relativity. This is unfortunate because, stripped of these connotations, it rather nicely captures the way most physicists actually think about the vacuum. . . . Relativity actually says nothing about the existence or nonexistence of matter pervading the universe, only that any such matter must have relativistic symmetry. [..] It turns out that such matter exists. About the time relativity was becoming accepted, studies of radioactivity began showing that the empty vacuum of space had spectroscopic structure similar to that of ordinary quantum solids and fluids. Subsequent studies with large particle accelerators have now led us to understand that space is more like a piece of window glass than ideal Newtonian emptiness. It is filled with 'stuff' that is normally transparent but can be made visible by hitting it sufficiently hard to knock out a part. The modern concept of the vacuum of space, confirmed every day by experiment, is a relativistic ether. But we do not call it this because it is taboo." - Robert B. Laughlin, Nobel Laureate in Physics, endowed chair in physics, Stanford University

            Matter, a piece of window glass and stuff have mass.

            In a double slit experiment it is the stuff which waves.

            "any particle, even isolated, has to be imagined as in continuous “energetic contact” with a hidden medium ... If a hidden sub-quantum medium is assumed, knowledge of its nature would seem desirable. It certainly is of quite complex character. It could not serve as a universal reference medium, as this would be contrary to relativity theory." - Louis de Broglie, Nobel Laureate in Physics

            "According to the general theory of relativity space without ether is unthinkable; for in such space there not only would be no propagation of light, but also no possibility of existence for standards of space and time (measuring-rods and clocks), nor therefore any space-time intervals in the physical sense." - Albert Einstein, Nobel Laureate in Physics

            The relativistic ether referred to by Laughlin is the hidden sub-quantum medium referred to by de Broglie is the ether which propagates light referred to by Einstein.

          • Felix Erwin

            Most of the proponents of push-gravity are deceased and the theory discredited. Stuff is not a scientific term. Aether which has been around since Newtonian times was thought to be a static frame of reference. I seen no evidence to support it, or a relativistic a/ether, nor does it offer a solution to any of the problems relating to QM weirdness. The collapse of the wave appears to be an interaction of the universe with a mental process in sentient beings, not some ethereal stuff.

          • mpc755

            There is evidence of the aether every time a double slit experiment is performed; it's what waves.

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