Had this Aeon piece by Philip Ball on my desktop for a day or two, and had it brought to my attention today by Robin.
Firstly I’m already a believer that the wave-particle duality and collapse of the wave function driven by the observer are fudges, as is the idea that many superpositioned states represent any kind of many-worlds model of reality. Quantum weirdness is only weird because we struggle to make it fit our classical common-sense world. A classical common-sense world already conditioned by generations of shared and evolved models of physics.
I don’t buy the full decoherence explanation (yet), but there are several good aspects to this Philip Ball explanation of Zurek’s work.
Each act of observation consumes (captures, processes and changes) information, and the environment between any event and our observation supports that communication. Photons (or some more fundamental info-ons) carry the information in patterns, imprints of the event. This is good. I go further and suggest the information field is the more fundamental aspect of reality than any “objects” we rationalise out of it at either particle or everyday levels. (See also Rovelli and also IIT.) Waves and particles are two different abstractions from the same underlying information patterns. The information is more fundamental than any physical embodiment, even though there must always be one or more manifestation in the natural (physical) world. (What is particularly exciting about recognising an information field underlying “apparent” wave-particle duality in physics itself, is that the same “trick” dissolves any mind-matter duality limiting our explanations of consciousness and will.)
Aside re “fundamental” particles of physics. In the same way as the word “atom” has evolved in the physics it represents, since Democritus original grasping for the most fundamental indivisible objects, “photon” may simply be redefined to be the most fundamental physical information object. Either way, if it really is both indivisible and fundamental (by definition) it may as well be Boscovich’s points in space. Everything observable is patterns of relationships between these; there’s no intrinsic nature or property of these fundamental “particles”. One corollary is that indivisible and fundamental are two different things. There are higher level indivisible (or basic) objects that are integrations (systematic historical outcomes that are more than the sum of their parts, that can never be resolved into their more fundamental parts, even though the more fundamental parts must have existed and interacted to evolve the higher objects.)
The real myth limiting scientific progress is objective reductionism. The above suggests routes out of this fly-bottle.
[Important Boscovich > Mach > Einstein thread behind this that was on the right track before “Copenhagen”.]
Also published on Medium.