Monday, February 16, 2015

Two unenviable choices


More quirky writing from Dr Michelsen, describing the two main options for understanding what quantum mechanics really means. This surely answers the question; "How would Jesus have explained it?"
"Dr. Xavier E. Rox believes in predictability. There can be no collapse, no random events. Physics is deterministic, just like the old classical physicist, Dr. Diehard, says. Dr. Rox observes, “Diehard’s only problem is that his math is wrong. Physics follows the Schr√∂dinger equation.”

Of course, to be consistent with experiment, Dr. Rox must assume that at every instant, the quantum state of the entire universe, including himself(!), splits into a new superposition of all possible results. “Better complexity and confusion than uncertainty,” he declares, much to the dismay of Werner Heisenberg.

On Sunday, Dr. Rox goes to the Church of Duplicity, and worships a rapidly growing list of very similar gods.

***

Dr. Ophelia C. Cam retorts, “Stuff and nonsense! I can only ever perceive one world, so it is unscientific to talk about others. They are, by definition, outside the possibility of observation, and therefore, also by definition, outside the realm of science.” She believes that each observer, with each observation, collapses her own wave-function of the universe. That is, to be consistent with experiment, she must assume that each observer has her own wave-function for the universe, which collapses only when its owner makes an observation. This means the quantum state of the universe is different for different observers.

How can a wave-function collapse? How can a wave-function be subjective, and not absolute? “I don’t know, and I don’t care,” says Dr. Cam. “Like it or not, it is what it is. The measured results provide a single reality for all observers, so there is no physical consequence of personalized wavefunctions.”

On Wednesdays, Dr. Cam goes to the Church of One Mind, where she prays to a very lonely God.

Who is right, then, Dr. Rox or Dr. Cam? This is not a scientific question, since both professors make the same experimental predictions. Whom you believe depends on which church you attend."
You see what he did there? With the names?

Satire aside, it's interesting that this is the best that the greatest minds on the planet have been able to come up with, in a century of trying. We're missing something important.