Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Physicists can't agree on fundamentals of QM

Here's a fine pot for stirring

The mathematical machinery of quantum 
mechanics became that of spectral analysis... 

It turned out that, once these foundations had been 
laid, symmetry could be of great help in elucidating 
the general character of the spectra.  

The physical action only depends on [the spectrum] Σ. 

(—A trio of physicists has uploaded a paper to the preprint server arXiv describing the results of a survey passed out to attendees at a physics conference held in 2011: Quantum Physics and the Nature of Reality. The purpose of the survey was to find out how much agreement or disagreement there is in the physics community regarding the most fundamental ideas of quantum mechanics – surprisingly, the results showed that there is still very little consensus among physicists regarding some of its most basic principles. 

Quantum mechanics at its heart is the study of the building blocks of the universe – what they are and how they work together to form reality as we are able to interpret it. Its ideas were first developed almost a century ago with such notables as Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr developing theories and debating ideas such as whether particles exist at certain places at certain times, or whether they move around constantly with a probability of being someplace at a given moment. The second idea famously led Bohr to conclude that if that were the case than the universe is indeterminate and at its base probabilistic. Refusing to believe such a possibility could be true, Einstein responded with perhaps his most famous quote that "God does not play dice with the universe." Now, nearly a century later, modern physicists are still just as divided. In the survey, just 42 percent of respondents agreed with Bohrs' assertions – the rest were divided among several other theories. Also likely surprising to those outside the physics community, a full 64 percent of those who bothered to respond to the survey said they believe Einstein's view of the universe "is wrong."

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