Talk:Interpretations of quantum mechanics

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Quantum Darwinism[edit]

Can Quantum Darwinism considered to be a possible interpretation of quantum mechanics? Veritas cosmicus (talk) 00:22, 4 February 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Veritas cosmicus: The article for Quantum Darwinism states that it proposes to answer the quantum measurement problem, the main interpretational challenge for quantum theory, so I would say yes, it should have an entry here. So should QBism. Crossroads -talk- 05:13, 4 February 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
One could probably argue that Quantum Darwinism is, like quantum decoherence, a theory that any interpretation of quantum mechanics can in principle use. But it certainly is, or can be taken as, an interpretation-like thing, so listing it here would be OK, I think. And QBism seems prominently-discussed enough to be included, too. I'm not sure why many-minds is listed separately from many-worlds (it's a variant of many-worlds that everybody beats up on). XOR'easter (talk) 18:37, 4 February 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Localism: Copenhagen vs Ensemble[edit]

Guys, I'm not an expert at all, but I'm looking at that Comparison Box, where under "Localism," it lists Ensemble as No, and Copenhagen as Yes, and that seems backwards to me. Niels Bohr's Copenhagen interpretation is explicitly non-local. The Copenhagen interpretation is that when a laboratory device observes part of an entangled state, There's a wave function collapse where the other pieces of the entangled function now have new distributions. That's the essence of non-localism. By contrast, the Ensemble interpretation is local. That's the essence of the theory, why Einstein developed it, because he strongly clung to localism. The Ensemble Interpretation does away with this whole business of entangled wave functions that change instantly faster than the speed of light; it's heavily influenced by classical mechanics. There's only one particle in the Ensemble Interpretation. The wave fuctions are statistical averages, not properties of one particle. Am I wrong? 2601:645:8201:E3E0:134:23C6:EC8A:40C4 (talk) 20:14, 15 March 2020 (UTC) Jason CatlinReply[reply]

"Copenhagen" means many things to many people; some variants describe themselves as "local" and others don't. XOR'easter (talk) 20:24, 15 March 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Self-published sources[edit]

Hi, with regard to the recent edit -- (Undid revision 969086743) I would just like to inquire about Self-published sources. It seems that according to Wikipedia, Self-published resources can be accepted. Self-published work: "Self-published works are sometimes acceptable as sources, so self-publication is not, and should not be, a bit of jargon used by Wikipedians to automatically dismiss a source as 'bad' or 'unreliable' or 'unusable'. While many self-published sources happen to be unreliable, the mere fact that it is self-published does not prove this. A self-published source can be independent, authoritative, high-quality, accurate, fact-checked, and expert-approved." The book is a reprint of an article which appeared in a peer-reviewed journal Cosmos and History, and one of the main problems of the self-published sources as stated in The problem with self-published sources, namely "lack of reviewers who are independent of the author", would not apply here: it was peer-reviewed. Unless, someone can provide any source which would suggest otherwise. I believe that it would be a correct thing to do to put that position back in the Further Reading section and not automatically discard it because it is self-published. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mich.Szczesny (talkcontribs) 22:11, 23 July 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

As I understand it, though not being authoritative, self published refereed sources are fine, but it is best not to be added by the actual author, or someone closely related. You are also not supposed to use your own papers, even when not self published. Preference is for secondary or tertiary sources, which I don't know if applies to the one you mention. Discuss in talk the reason(s) why you think it should go in, and maybe someone else will agree, and add it. That is the best way. Gah4 (talk) 22:34, 23 July 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
See: WP:SELFCITE. Gah4 (talk) 22:39, 23 July 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
OK, if it isn't WP:SELFCITE can you explain any connection between you and the author or publisher? How is it that you happen to know about this one? Is it really a secondary source? That is, mostly referencing others for its conclusions? Those are the kind of questions that come up when sources like this are used, though it isn't always easy to know. Gah4 (talk) 22:45, 23 July 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thank you for your comments. Hopefully, there are editors who will also think that it is a good idea to add this resource. I happen to have read that article, found it very interesting and thought that it would be beneficial for Wikipedia readers to know about it; it's an interpretation of QM after all and the author discusses other QM interpretations as well like Many worlds, Copenhagen, Bohmian Mechanics, QFT, Consciousness-Dependent Reality, Observer-Created Reality, some of which are on this page.--Mich.Szczesny (talk) 07:52, 24 July 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Cosmos and History is a dubiously reliable journal at best, and everybody and their brother has an "interpretation" of quantum mechanics. This article is for those which are historically significant. That is a standard which the addition does not meet. And while the comment above does not address this, the addition is definitely a primary source: it is Christopher Langan talking about his own "Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe". I concur with PaleoNeonate's removal of it. XOR'easter (talk) 16:17, 24 July 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Langan is a blocked sock-puppeteer, so if single-purpose accounts come along to offer their opinions here, well, take that under advisement, I suppose. XOR'easter (talk) 16:43, 24 July 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agree with XOR'easter and PaleoNeonate. Please. This is not even close to reputable science, let alone a theory with the standing to make our list of QM interpretations. Langen says with his theory "you can prove the existence of God, the soul and an afterlife, using mathematics". His theory hasn't been mentioned in a single reputable scientific journal, just a bunch of pay-to-play alt-science catbox liners. Langen's Intro to Quantum Metamechanics is published by a foundation set up by him. Chris Langen is just an ambitious individual trying to promote himself as "The smartest man in America". He and his theory have gone viral with a segment of alt-right fanboys, because he supports their white genocide conspiracy theories. --ChetvornoTALK 01:39, 25 July 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Teller Copenhagen interpretation[edit]

Anybody have scholarly sources for Edward Teller's Copenhagen interpretation? I find it very convincing but I'd prefer a formal treatment instead of the colloquial explanation he gives on Web of Stories:[1]

With one special remark; if you make a measurement which defines the position precisely, this measurement does not require an observer. Indeed, it is entirely independent. Something might happen a billion years ago and I can find in the geological remains that this or that has happened, no observer. What happens in a measurement is what is called - excuse me for introducing a new concept, which I will explain - something must happen which is called an Irreversible Process. And I will show you an irreversible process right here. Here is this hopefully empty cup and I drop it. Now, what happens in physics forward can also happen backward. The equations are so constructed that everything that happens one way can happen also the opposite way. So therefore, having stopped this- dropped this cup, I stand here with my hand open and wait for the cup to rise again, not as I do it, lifting it, but of its own accord, redoing the whole thing and landing in my hand. You all know that if that can happen at all you have to have a lot of patience, a patience greatly exceeding the age of the universe which is about as good as saying it never can happen. And the interference phenomenon, a peculiar thing in quantum mechanics, will show up its consequences in whatever else I do with this object. Because from the end state, I can reconstruct the initial state, except if there is an irreversible process. A measurement is not defined by Eugene Wigner knowing about it, or anybody else, it is defined by an irreversible process which does not allow the original state to be reconstructed from the final state. It is in this sense that Heisenberg should be understood. And he's talking of it- about an observer. It's simply justified as a didactic device, as a device to explain things, so people understand more easily what an observer is than to say what an irreversible process is.


  1. ^ "Edward Teller - Interference Phenomenon (29/147)", Web of Stories, 1998

It appears Teller eliminates the observer and the wavefunction collapse out of the Copenhagen interpretation and replaces them with a statistically "irreversible" wavefunction, which doesn't appear to be formally irreversible, just that it has a near zero probability. HueSurname (talk) 16:45, 1 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Teller says some words, that's for sure. Plenty of other Copenhagen-ish people have also spoken about "irreversible amplification" and the like. Do any secondary or tertiary sources discuss Teller's take? Offhand, I don't know of any. XOR'easter (talk) 19:03, 8 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The last thesis according to Hans Primas[edit]

I think Omnès's treatment of the subject is not very good, but it does fit in half a page and is all in one place, which makes it a good fit for sourcing on Wikipedia. Some quotes from the source about the last thesis:

The Last Thesis

This thesis, according to which the quantum states are objective, though not real, is very interesting but it would take us outside the proper domain of physics into philosophy. We shall therefore leave it aside, not to exclude it forever but to keep it waiting till the last chapter of this book.

17. Is the Theory Objective? [...] So, to conclude, the theory is plainly objective.

18. Is the Theory Realistic? [...] Realism is not as clearly defined as objectivity. [...] Our conclusion will be therefore that quantum mechanics is probably as realistic as any theory of its scope and maturity ever will be.

I think these quotes show that describing the last thesis as "that quantum descriptions are objective but not necessarily real" is much more accurate to what Omnès is saying compared to "quantum descriptions are independent of physicists' personal preferences", especially since Omnès never uses the latter phrasing anywhere.

I think it's better to stick to the source's phrasing. This applies to the rest of the article too, but one thing at a time. HueSurname (talk) 21:26, 14 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't think a typical reader will get anything at all out of "objective but not necessarily real". What's the difference between "objective" and "real"? We're not trying to come up with a catchy koan here ("the opposite of a profound truth is another profound truth", etc.), but to convey an idea as clearly and succinctly as possible. Well, Omnès spends pages 512–531 discoursing on "realism" by invoking Kant, Mach, d'Espagnat, Duhem, and others. It's not exactly a light read. But before getting into that, he concludes his discussion of "objectivity" as follows:
One must work harder and recognize that classical physics was in fact rather naive when it considered its own objectivity as obvious, but these subtleties do not affect the basic question, which is whether the theory refers to anything having to do with the mind. The answer is no. The theory only refers to the facts, to all of them even, as a matter of principle, and not necessarily only to the known ones. The consequences it draws from these facts are completely free from any arbitrariness originating in the mind, at least as long as one sticks to what can be said to be true. So, to conclude, the theory is plainly objective.
The bit about personal preferences was my attempt to summarize Omnès' turns of phrase like arbitrariness originating in the mind. I doubt my choice was the best possible, and I'm definitely open to suggestions on how to improve it. I just don't think "objective but not real" is clarifying. XOR'easter (talk) 21:45, 14 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Objective is "the measurement is real" and real is "the quantum state is real". How about taking It has accordingly no more difficulty with objectivity than classical physics and as realistic as any theory of its scope and maturity ever will be and phrasing them as "that quantum physics is no less objective than classical physics, and that the quantum description of reality is not necessarily less real than the classical description." HueSurname (talk) 22:22, 14 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Okay, you covered the objective part (with the weird phrase "arbitrariness of the mind") but it's a two-parter, objectivity and realism. HueSurname (talk) 23:43, 14 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hmm, I like the direction you're going with the quantum description of reality is not necessarily less real than the classical description, but I'm not sure it's at the destination yet. Maybe quantum physics is not necessarily less realistic than classical physics was? XOR'easter (talk) 18:49, 15 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sure, you could sum it up in a single "not necessarily less real" and that's fine for the lead. I still think the distinction between objective (the "realness" of the result of the measurement) and real (the "realness" of the state itself) is an important distinction, but the phrasing you offer is better than "arbitrariness of the mind" for sure. HueSurname (talk) 11:53, 16 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Removal of stochastic mechanics[edit]

Hi XOR'easter, I'm having trouble understanding your removal of the section on stochastic mechanics – It seems to me that everything in the comparison table should have a section written about it. I also don't see why it's listing at minority interpretations of quantum mechanics warrants its removal, effectively all (bar a couple) of the sections on interpretations have a corresponding listing over at that page, so I'm not sure what you mean here. Is there some other reason for the removal? Volteer1 (talk) 18:06, 28 February 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The Nelsonian stochastic interpretation is so obscure it's not even asked about in surveys of which interpretations physicists prefer. Per WP:UNDUE, it doesn't really fit in a big-picture overview of quantum interpretations. XOR'easter (talk) 18:11, 28 February 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Okay, that makes a little more sense. All good. Volteer1 (talk) 18:19, 28 February 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]