Physics

Is there a Correct Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics



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On the face of it, the answer to this question is obviously 'no!' Many different ways of dealing with quantum weirdness have been developed in QM's 100 year history. From Bohm Theory to Many Worlds, from Dynamical Collapse to Instrumentalism... So there is no consensus as to how one should think about quantum phenomena. In this sense there is no 'correct way' to deal with QM.

First, a look at some of the current interpretations. The Copenhagen interpretation was historically the first to amass any large following. Developed by Bohr and others it is the standard view today. But it is very very weird. We can only tell up to a certain point where a particle is. Normally we say it is in a superposition of states and when we measure it, it collapses into a specific state. Why should measurement have this property? What counts as measurement? The problems are numerous and well documented. But this is basically how QM is taught to scientists at university.

Alternative theories, briefly, include;

Bohm theory. Basically, particles follow precise trajectories, but we cannot know exactly where they are. This ignorance is codified by the wave equation. Advantages; it is fully determinate and deterministic. Disadvantages; It violates relativity, it relies on big assumptions about the state of the universe

Many Worlds. Every possible time evolution for the universe actually happens in some causally distinct branch of some sort of multiverse. Pro; a lot of the Copenhagen problems don't arise. Cons; its really weird! Also it suffers from the same sort of problems for reference as does Lewis' Modal Realism

Dynamic Collapse. Collapse of the wave function is a real physical process... Good; again sidesteps some of the weirdness Bad; it is kind of ad hoc and not well explained.

Another way of avoiding the problems is to become and instrumentalist. Basically say 'I don't care what is happening on that level. Physical theories are just about getting measurements and all the invisible microscopic gubbins posited is just a heuristic, something to help you work with the theory...'

So it is certainly the case that there is no consensus, no 'correct way' of interpreting QM.

A more subtle way of looking this question is to think of it like this; is it possible that in the future we will have a consensus about how to deal with Quantum Mechanics? And will this be an interpretation of the theory or will it be in terms of some deeper unifying theory?

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