Quantum views

Paul Arveson (arveson@oasys.dt.navy.mil)
Tue, 27 Aug 96 10:11:22 EDT

Thanks for coming back here and offering a challenging topic for discussion.

I've been reading an interesting book, "The Conscious Universe" by Baratos
and Nadeau, who are respectively physics and English profs at George Mason
University near me. The book came as a freebie when you join the Natural
Science Book Club, which I recommend.

The authors argue for the Bohr interpretation of quantum mechanics, in
which the observer is inextricably part of the experiment. This view leads to
acceptance of non-locality (Einstein's "spooky action at a distance") which in
turn could imply that something other than causality maintains the coherence of
the world (my words here). The authors however do not favor the many-worlds
hypothesis, but try to uphold a strictly instrumentalist or positivist
interpretation of data -- don't infer anything that can't be observed.

Anyway, at the ASA annual meeting I found that George Murphy also got this
book (in the same way) and liked it, but he suggested a new interpretation from
Griffiths that was not mentioned as an alternative in the book: "consistent
histories". I also talked to Jack McIntyre at the meeting. He is an old-timer
in ASA, and a physics professor who has taught quantum mechanics. He also likes
the "consistent histories" approach, which he said does away with a lot of the
weirdness of non-locality and other problems.

I don't know any more than this, but maybe some of you out there do.

Incidentally, in a recent issue of Science, there is an article about
experimental demonstration of Schroedinger's cat, modeled with atoms. It shows
that indeed, interference between the live/dead states can be observed, at least
for cats as small as atoms.

Paul Arveson, Research Physicist
Code 724, NSWC, Bethesda, MD 20084
73367.1236@compuserve.com arveson@oasys.dt.navy.mil
(301) 227-3831 (W) (301) 227-1914 (FAX) (301) 816-9459 (H)