Uncertain for A Century: Quantum Mechanics and The Dilemma of Interpretation

Por • 26 may, 2016 • Sección: Crítica

Adam Frank

Abstract: Quantum Mechanics, the physical theory describing the microworld, represents one of science’s greatest triumphs. It lies at the root of all modern digital technologies and offers unparalleled correspondence between prediction and experiments. Remarkably, however, after more than 100 years it is still unclear what quantum mechanics means in terms of basic philosophical questions about the nature of reality. While there are many interpretations of the mathematical machinery of quantum physics, there remains no experimental means to distinguish between most of them.  In this contribution, (based on a discussion at the NYAS), I wish to consider the ways in which the enduring lack of an agreed upon interpretation of quantum physics influences a number of critical philosophical debates about physics and reality. I briefly review two problems effected by quantum interpretations: the meaning of the term ‘Universe’ and the nature of consciousness. In what follows I am explicitly not advocating for any particular quantum interpretation. Instead, I am interested in how the explicit inability of modern physics to experimentally distinguish between interpretations with wildly divergent ontological/epistemological implications plays into discussions of physics and its description of the world.

arXiv:1604.06488v1 [physics.hist-ph]


History and Philosophy of Physics (physics.hist-ph); Quantum Physics (quant-ph)

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