Re: [asa] Fw: Pilot-wave theory

From: Randy Isaac <>
Date: Sun Jun 21 2009 - 17:23:30 EDT

Here are couple of other paragraphs that I excised. He claims Bohm picked up on de Broglie's proposal but both of them failed.
The key, as Moorad pointed out, is whether his cosmic wave background prediction holds up and is verified.


"Some conference participants, most notably Einstein, de Broglie, and Schrödinger, rejected Bohr's arguments. Physicists today remember Einstein as Bohr's chief antagonist. But their famed disputes over the validity of quantum theory must have taken place off the record, Valentini says; the published conference proceedings don't mention them at all.
The proceedings do, however, contain 24 pages of discussion of a rival interpretation by de Broglie. Unlike Bohr, who viewed the quantum wave equation describing a particle as a mathematical abstraction, de Broglie thought such waves were real—he called them pilot waves. In de Broglie's picture, particles never exist in more than one place at the same time. All the mysterious properties of quantum theory are explained by pilot waves guiding particles along their trajectories. In the two-slit experiment, for example, each particle passes through only one slit. The pilot wave, however, goes through both slits at once and influences where the particle strikes the screen. There is no inexplicable wave collapse triggered by observation. Instead, Valentini says, "the total pilot wave, for the particle and the detectors considered as a single system, evolves so as to yield an apparent collapse."

Bohr, Heisenberg, and their supporters at the Solvay conference were unimpressed. The details of the particle trajectories were unobservable, and Bohr insisted that physicists shouldn't traffic in hidden, unmeasurable entities. "De Broglie wasn't happy with the Copenhagen interpretation," says Valentini, "but he gave up trying to argue about it."

Bohr and Heisenberg's vision of quantum theory prevailed; de Broglie's languished. David Bohm, a prominent American physicist, rediscovered de Broglie's work in the early 1950s and expanded on it. But Bohm's work, like de Broglie's, failed to attract much support, because it could not be distinguished experimentally from conventional quantum mechanics. "

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  Sent: Sunday, June 21, 2009 3:54 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Fw: Pilot-wave theory

  I think this article is muddled on its physics history. As I recall, it wasn't de Broglie who proposed the pilot wave -- that was David Bohm. de Broglie's contribution was to argue that particles with mass should have a wave nature, just as massless light (being a wave) has a particle nature. So it is true that de Broglie was interested in the wave behavior of quantum mechanics, but as far as I know de Broglie never proposed that the particles are a separate entity from a wave that exists to "pilot" them about. That came much later from David Bohm.

  I never liked Bohm's pilot wave concept because it requires the existence of two entities where only one is needed. As far as I know, the pilot wave has no function except to appear at the proper time and push particles around. It is immeasurable and is discerned (supposedly) only through the fact that the particles behave a certain way. The particles meanwhile have no ability to get where thy are going unless the wave shows up and pushes them. This seems to be a very inelegant theory, IMO. It is substituting awkwardness for the usual abstraction of QM, and is that really a good thing? I prefer the abstraction because we have good reason to expect abstraction in the fundamental reality of nature, and also to expect elegance. Furthermore, the pilot wave idea doesn't so lve the non-locality of QM (the violation of Bell's inequality); the pilot wave still needs to behave non-locally with information passing between its parts faster than light, so what good does it do? In the final analysis, isn't it still abstract?


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Received on Sun Jun 21 17:23:53 2009

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