Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Can Experiments Rule Out Some Interpretations Of Quantum Mechanics?

There are about a dozen or so interpretations of quantum mechanics that physicists float around, and nobody knows which one, if any, is correct. Experiments up until now have been unable to rule out different versions, as they all experimentally predict the same things, even though different interpretations lead to dramatically different ontologies.

But that all may change in the next couple months. As reported by FQXi, a new experiment might be able to falsify certain QM interpretations that fall under what are known as the psi-epistemic models. Interpretations into quantum mechanics diverge into two camps: psi-ontic models, and psi-epistemic models. Psi-ontic models are realist in the sense that they say that the wave function is real and exists independently of our observation. Psi-epistemic models say that the wave function isn't real and represents our ignorance about our state of reality.

If an experiment could rule out psi-epistemic models it would narrow the pool of candidates, and it could lend credibility to the psi-ontic models, of which the many-worlds and bohmian interpretations are a part of. But, one caveat is that the Copenhagen interpretation, which is a psi-epistemic model, can't be ruled out, as it is not able to be falsified, at least not by the pending experiment. Still, what's so great is that experimental technology has improved to such a degree that we now have the opportunity to falsify QM interpretations like we've never had the ability to before.

I certainly hope that in my lifetime we get some experiments that help us narrow down the interpretations of quantum mechanics, hopefully to one. Although I like the many world interpretation as it is the most metaphysically interesting one, the idea of other worlds does make me cringe a bit. Is there a world where I'm homeless now and begging for money on the street? Is there a world where the Nazis won World War II and succeeded in mass-slaughtering millions of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and those they deemed inferior? The idea of that is horrible and it would open the mind up to many disturbing realities. The pending experiment could still leave open several candidates, so narrowing the field down to one is not likely in the near future. We'll have to wait and see what the experiments show. Stay tuned.

See here:

Quantum physics: What is really real?

Quantum Phenomena Modeled by Interactions between Many Classical Worlds

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