Quantum Mechanics and Observation

· physics, quantum mechanics

David Albert kills the new book A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather Than Nothing by Lawrence Krauss in the NYT review On The Origin of Everything with

  • Where, for starters, are the laws of quantum mechanics themselves supposed to have come from? Krauss is more or less upfront, as it turns out, about not having a clue about that.

In Newtonian Gravitation of Matter and Anti-Matter I present some aspects of creation out of nothing related to the instability of the local operation of computing derivatives (as opposed to the stability of the global operation of computing integrals.

Financial bubbles emerge out of nothing, by instability, and so there may be something that is no altogether crazy in what Krauss is saying, even if Albert does not think so.

And what about David Albert himself? His magnum opus is Quantum Mechanics and Experience with main focus  on the measurement problem:
  • What is the effect of the observer on an observed quantum mechanical state?
  • Can the effect be made smaller than any given limit with suitable equipment or is there a smallest possible precision which cannot be surpassed?
  • Is the “collapse of the wave function” under observation determined  by the observer?

David Albert advocates the de Broglie-Bohm pilot wave theory but seems to be fully convinced that observation necessarily  must have a non-neglible impact on what is observed: Even if an initial configuration could be known or specified exactly, the following evolution would necessarily have to be affected to some degree by observation.

Is this necessarily so? Is it possible to observe without influencing what is being observed, like an invisible observer or ideal paparazzi?

Yes, maybe if observation is allowed to be mean computational solution of the Schrödinger equation. Suppose we solve the evolution problem specified by the Schrödinger equation on the computer with given initial conditions and we take as observation the computed wave function at a later time. Then the measurement problem would be transferred to a problem of computational precision in solving the Schrödinger equation, which may have a more accessible solution than a measurement problem involving the physics (and maybe mind) of the observer.

I explore this idea in Many-Minds Quantum Mechanics based on an electron-by-electron computational algorithm for solving the Schrödinger equation, which in a sense can be viewed as an “invisible observer”.

I have sent David Albert my reflections and will report if I get any response.

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