Suck that up, Copenhagen

The paper referenced in the previous post is well worth a read, if you find probabilistic collapsing wave-functions, and the suggestion that thanks to quantum mechanics there is no actual single physical reality, too weird to actually believe. Einstein was right for knowing Bohr was wrong, even if he never cottoned onto De Broglie’s pilot wave model, later picked up by David Bohm. Chaotic and difficult to predict individual histories, sure, but deterministically so. May Shroedinger’s cat forever rest in peace never to be heard of again. (Must actually watch Jim’s series and read his book, to see where his beliefs lie.)

A century down the line, the standard, probabilistic formulation of quantum mechanics has been combined with Einstein’s theory of special relativity and developed into the Standard Model, an elaborate and precise description of most of the particles and forces in the universe. Acclimating to the weirdness of quantum mechanics has become a physicists’ rite of passage. The old, deterministic alternative is not mentioned in most textbooks; most people in the field haven’t heard of it. Sheldon Goldstein (*), a professor of mathematics, physics and philosophy at Rutgers University and a supporter of pilot-wave theory, blames the “preposterous” neglect of the theory on “decades of indoctrination.” At this stage, Goldstein and several others noted, researchers risk their careers by questioning quantum orthodoxy.

The key thing about the article is that it’s an empirical demonstration at human visible scale, using oil drops on water surface waves. Suck that up Copenhagen. Interesting that the cautiously informed responses are all about how “hard” the pilot-wave model is going to be to create all the mathematics needed to replace Copenhagen, but no suggestion that it’s demonstrably wrong.

Aside – I’m wondering if, like fluid mechanics, the practicalities will always be calculated and predicted using statistical approximations, ratios and scale factors determined from historical measurement. Tracking the real “particles” of fluid is always too complex and therefore performed computationally at “finite element” level with fluid properties based on the empirical factors – whether Roman water in pipes or 21st century aircraft in the air, maybe now for elementary particles in the ether.

[(*) First husband of Rebecca Goldstein cited previously as also being a supporter of Bohmian Mechanics.]

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