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Quantum Mechanics

Edited by Michael Cuffaro (Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München)
Assistant editors: Brian Padden, Radin Dardashti
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Summary Issues in the philosophy of quantum mechanics include first and foremost, its interpretation. Probably the most well-known of these is the 'orthodox' Copenhagen interpretation associated with Neils Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Wolfgang Pauli, John von Neumann, and others. Beginning roughly at the midway point of the previous century, philosophers' attention began to be drawn towards alternative interpretations of the theory, including Bohmian mechanics, the relative state formulation of quantum mechanics and its variants (i.e., DeWit's "many worlds" variant, Albert and Loewer's "many minds" variant, etc.), and the dynamical collapse family of theories. One particular interpretational issue that has attracted very much attention since the seminal work of John Bell, is the issue of the extent to which quantum mechanical systems do or do not admit of a local realistic description. Bell's investigation of the properties of entangled quantum systems, inspired by the famous thought experiment of Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen, seems to lead one to the conclusion that the only realistic "hidden variables" interpretation compatible with the quantum mechanical formalism is a nonlocal one. In recent years, some of the attention has focused on applications of quantum mechanics and their potential for illuminating quantum foundations. These include the sciences of quantum information and quantum computation. Additional areas of research include philosophical investigation into the extensions of nonrelativistic quantum mechanics (such as quantum electrodynamics and quantum field theory more generally), as well as more formal logico-mathematical investigations into the structure of quantum states, state spaces, and their dynamics.
Key works Bohr 1928 and Heisenberg 1930 expound upon what has since become known as the 'Copenhagen interpretation' of quantum mechanics. The famous 'EPR' thought experiment of Einstein et al 1935 aims to show that quantum mechanics is an incomplete theory which should be supplemented by additional ('hidden') parameters. Bohr 1935 replies. More on Bohr's views can be found in Faye 1991, Folse 1985. Inspired by the EPR thought experiment, Bell 2004 [1964] proves what has since become known as "Bell's theorem." This, and a related result due to Kochen & Specker 1967 serve to revive the discussion of hidden variables and alternative interpretations of quantum mechanics. Jarrett 1984 analyses the key "factorisability" assumption Bell uses to derive his theorem into two distinct sub-assumptions, which Jarrett refers to as "locality" and "completeness". Two important volumes dedicated to the topics of entanglement and nonlocality are Cushing & McMullin 1989 and Maudlin 2002. Among the more discussed alternative interpretations of quantum mechanics are: Bohmian mechanics (Bohm 1952, and see also Cushing et al 1996), and Everett's relative state formulation (Everett Iii 1973). The latter gives rise to many variants, including the many worlds, many minds, and decoherence-based approaches (see Saunders et al 2010). Other notable interpretations and alternative theories include dynamical collapse theories (Ghirardi et al 1986), as well as the Copenhagen-inspired Quantum Bayesianism view (Fuchs 2003). An attempt to axiomatize quantum mechanics in terms of information theoretic constraints, and a discussion of the relevance of this for the interpretation of quantum mechanics is given in Clifton et al 2003. Discussion of this and other issues in quantum information theory can be found in: Timpson 2013. Key works in the philosophy of quantum field theory include: Redhead 1995, Redhead 1994, Ruetsche 2013, Teller 1995.
Introductions Hughes 1989 is an excellent introduction to the formalism and interpretation of quantum mechanics. Albert 1992 is another, which focuses particularly on the problem of measurement in quantum mechanics.
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  1. D. Aerts, J. Broekaert & L. Gabora (forthcoming). The Quantum Nature of Common Processes. Foundations of Science.
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  2. Ernst Cassirer (1923/2003). Substance and Function. Dover Publications.
    In this double-volume work, a great modern philosopher propounds a system of thought in which Einstein's theory of relativity represents only the latest (albeit the most radical) fulfillment of the motives inherent to mathematics and the physical sciences. In the course of its exposition, it touches upon such topics as the concept of number, space and time, geometry, and energy; Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry; traditional logic and scientific method; mechanism and motion; Mayer's methodology of natural science; Richter's definite proportions; relational (...)
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  3. Eva Cassirer (1958). Methodology and Quantum Physics. [REVIEW] British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 8 (32):334-341.
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  4. M. J. Rave (2008). Interpreting Quantum Interference Using a Berry's Phase-Like Quantity. Foundations of Physics 38 (12):1073-1081.
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  5. Abner Shimony (1978). Metaphysical Problems in the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics. International Philosophical Quarterly 18 (1):3-17.
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  6. Allen Stairs (1982). Book Review:Studies in the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics Patrick Suppes. [REVIEW] Philosophy of Science 49 (3):481-.
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  7. Allen Stairs & Jeffrey Bub (2013). Correlations, Contextuality and Quantum Logic. Journal of Philosophical Logic 42 (3):483-499.
    Quantum theory is a probabilistic theory that embodies notoriously striking correlations, stronger than any that classical theories allow but not as strong as those of hypothetical ‘super-quantum’ theories. This raises the question ‘Why the quantum?’—whether there is a handful of principles that account for the character of quantum probability. We ask what quantum-logical notions correspond to this investigation. This project isn’t meant to compete with the many beautiful results that information-theoretic approaches have yielded but rather aims to complement that work.
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  8. H. P. Stapp (1994). Comments on {OpenQuotes} Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics, Joint Measurement of Incompatible Observables, and Counterfactual Definiteness {CloseQuotes}. Foundations of Physics 24 (12).
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  9. Henry Stapp, Physicalism Versus Quantum Mechanics.
    In the context of theories of the connection between mind and brain, physicalism is the demand that all is basically purely physical. But the conception of “physical” embodied in this demand is characterized essentially by the properties of the physical that hold in classical physical theories. Certain of those properties contradict the character of the physical in quantum mechanics, which provides a better, more comprehensive, and more fundamental account of phenomena. It is argued that the difficulties that have plagued physicalists (...)
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  10. Henry Stapp, Quantum Theory of the Human Person.
    This talk is about you as a human person. It is about science’s conception of you as a human person. It is about what makes you different from a machine. It is about your mind, and how your mind influences your bodily actions. It is about.
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  11. Henry Stapp, Schroedinger's Cat.
    Erwin Schroedinger and Werner Heisenberg were the originators of two approaches, known respectively as “wave mechanics” and “matrix mechanics”, to what is now called “quantum mechanics’ or “quantum theory”. The two approaches appear to be extremely different, both in their technical forms, and in their philosophical underpinnings. Heisenberg arrived to his theory by effectively renouncing the idea of trying to represent a physical system, such as a hydrogen atom for example, as a structure in space-time, but by instead, following the (...)
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  12. Henry Stapp, The World of Actions.
    Werner Heisenberg was, from a technical point of view, the principal founder of quantum theory. He discovered in 1925 the completely amazing and wholly unprecedented solution to the puzzle: the quantities that classical physical theory was based upon, and which were thought to be numbers, must be treated not as numbers but as actions! Ordinary numbers, such as 2 and 3, have the property that the product of any two of them does not depend on the order of the factors: (...)
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  13. Henry Stapp (2007). Whitehead, James, and the Ontology of Quantum Theory. Mind and Matter 5 (1):83-109.
    I shall describe the beautiful fit of the ideas of Alfred North Whitehead and William James with the concepts of relativistic quantum field theory developed by Tomonaga and Schwinger.The central concept is a set of happenings each of which is assigned a space-time region.This growing set of non-overlapping regions fill out a growing space-time region that advances into the still uncreated and yet-to-be-axed future.Each happening has both experiential aspects and physical aspects,which are jointly needed to generate the advance into the (...)
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  14. Henry Stapp (2006). Comments on Shimony's “An Analysis of Stapp's 'A Bell-Type Theorem Without Hidden Variables' ”. Foundations of Physics 36 (1):73-82.
    The hidden-variable theorems of Bell and followers depend upon an assumption, namely the hidden-variable assumption, that conflicts with the precepts of quantum philosophy. Hence from an orthodox quantum perspective those theorems entail no faster-than-light transfer of information. They merely reinforce the ban on hidden variables. The need for some sort of faster-than-light information transfer can be shown by using counterfactuals instead of hidden variables. Shimony’s criticism of that argument fails to take into account the distinction between no-faster-than-light connection in one (...)
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  15. Henry P. Stapp, Quantum Mechanics in the Brain.
    Christof Koch and Klaus Hepp, in a recent essay in this journal1, issued a challenge to “those who call upon consciousness to carry the burden of the measurement problem in quantum mechanics.” Lest absence of a response be construed as admission of a failure of the idea that consciousness can play, via quantum measurement effects, a crucial role in neurodynamics, or that this idea has been in any rational way damaged by the arguments put forth in the cited article, (...)
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  16. Henry P. Stapp, Retrocausal Effects as a Consequence of Orthodox Quantum Mechanics Refined to Accommodate The Principle of Sufficient Reason.
    The principle of sufficient reason asserts that anything that happens does so for a reason: no definite state of affairs can come into being unless there is a sufficient reason why that particular thing should happen. This principle is usually attributed to Leibniz, although the first recorded Western philosopher to use it was Anaximander of Miletus. The demand that nature be rational, in the sense that it be compatible with the principle of sufficient reason, conflicts with a basic feature of (...)
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  17. Henry P. Stapp, Tutorial in Quantum Mechanics and the Mind-Brain Connection.
    I have written extensively of the topic of this tutorial. But in order to reach a broad audience I have in many of my more recent works refrained from using equations. That approach makes those works accessible in principle both to readers who are repelled by equations, and also to quantum physicists who are sufficiently familiar with the details of the quantum theory of measurement to be able to fill in for themselves the omitted equations. However, that approach means also (...)
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  18. Henry P. Stapp (2005). Quantum Processes. Process Studies 34 (1):146-149.
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  19. Henry P. Stapp (2005). Quantum Physics in Neuroscience and Psychology: A Neurophysical Model of Mind €“Brain Interaction. Philosophical Transactions-Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences 360 (1458):1309-1327.
    Neuropsychological research on the neural basis of behaviour generally posits that brain mechanisms will ultimately suffice to explain all psychologically described phenomena. This assumption stems from the idea that the brain is made up entirely of material particles and fields, and that all causal mechanisms relevant to neuroscience can therefore be formulated solely in terms of properties of these elements. Thus, terms having intrinsic mentalistic and/or experiential content (e.g. ‘feeling’, ‘knowing’ and ‘effort’) are not included as primary causal factors. This (...)
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  20. Henry P. Stapp (1995). The Hard Problem: A Quantum Approach. Journal of Consciousness Studies 3 (3):194-210.
    This document was prepared as an account of work sponsored by the United States Government. While this document is believed to contain correct information, neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor The Regents of the University of California, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe (...)
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  21. Henry P. Stapp (1994). Theoretical Model of a Purported Empirical Violation of the Predictions of Quantum Mechanics. Physical Review A 50:18-22.
  22. Henry P. Stapp (1988). Spacetime and Future Quantum Theory. Foundations of Physics 18 (8):833-849.
    Space and time are discussed in connection with the future of quantum theory.
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  23. Henry P. Stapp (1985). Consciousness and Values in the Quantum Universe. Foundations of Physics 15 (1):35-47.
    Application of quantum mechanical description to neurophysiological processes appears to provide for a natural unification of the physical and humanistic sciences. The categories of thought used to represent physical and psychical processes become united, and the mechanical conception of man created by classical physics is replaced by a profoundly different quantum conception. This revised image of man allows human values to be rooted in contemporary science.
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  24. Henry P. Stapp (1985). Comments on “Locality, Bell's Theorem, and Quantum Mechanics”. Foundations of Physics 15 (9):973-976.
    Two different ideas of locality are described. Both are due essentially to einstein. Quantum theory is compatible with the first but not the second. The problems encountered in the article cited in the title arise from trying to use only the first idea of locality, whereas Bell's-theorem considerations pertain to the second.
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  25. Henry P. Stapp (1980). Locality and Reality. Foundations of Physics 10 (9-10):767-795.
    Einstein's principle that no signal travels faster than light suggests that observations in one spacetime region should not depend on whether or not a radioactive decay is detected in a spacelike-separated region. This locality property is incompatible with the predictions of quantum theory, and this incompatibility holds independently of the questions of realism, objective reality, and hidden variables. It holds both in the pragmatic quantum theory of Bohr and in realistic frameworks. It is shown here to hold in a completed (...)
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  26. Andrzej Staruszkiewicz (2002). Quantum Mechanics of the Supplementary Series. Foundations of Physics 32 (12):1863-1876.
    Unitary, irreducible representations of the proper, orthochronous Lorentz group comprise the main series and the supplementary series. The main series is spanned by the complete set of eigenstates of the self-adjoint Casimir operator C 1=−(1/2)M μν M μν , where M μν are generators of Lorentz transformations. The supplementary series has no such interpretation; moreover it is spurious from the point of view of functional analysis as it does not enter into the integral representation of an arbitrary test function. The (...)
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  27. F. Stary & M. Sorg (2006). Ortho- and Para-Helium in Relativistic Schrödinger Theory. Foundations of Physics 36 (9):1325-1403.
    The characteristic features of ortho- and para-helium are investigated within the framework of Relativistic Schrödinger Theory (RST). The emphasis lies on the conceptual level, where the geometric and physical properties of both RST field configurations are inspected in detail. From the geometric point of view, the striking feature consists in the splitting of the $\mathfrak{u}(2)$ -valued bundle connection $\mathcal{A}_{\mu}$ into an abelian electromagnetic part (organizing the electromagnetic interactions between the two electrons) and an exchange part, which is responsible for their (...)
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  28. A. M. Steane (2003). A Quantum Computer Only Needs One Universe. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 34 (3):469-478.
    The nature of quantum computation is discussed. It is argued that, in terms of the amount of information manipulated in a given time, quantum and classical computation are equally efficient. Quantum superposition does not permit quantum computers to ''perform many computations simultaneously'' except in a highly qualified and to some extent misleading sense. Quantum computation is therefore not well described by interpretations of quantum mechanics which invoke the concept of vast numbers of parallel universes. Rather, entanglement makes available types of (...)
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  29. A. M. Steane (2003). A Quantum Computer Only Needs One Universe. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 34 (3):469-478.
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  30. W. -H. Steeb (1980). A Comment on the Generalized Liouville Equation. Foundations of Physics 10 (5-6):485-493.
    The generalized Liouville equation is studied in a new light using the Lie derivative of a differential form with respect to a vector field.
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  31. W. -H. Steeb, J. A. Louw & A. Kunick (1987). Quantum Chaos of an Exciton-Phonon System. Foundations of Physics 17 (2):173-181.
    A simple model of an exciton-phonon system is studied in connection with quantum chaos.
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  32. Eugene V. Stefanovich, A Superluminal Effect with Oscillating Neutrinos.
    A simple quantum relativistic model of ν µ − ντ neutrino oscillations in the OPERA experiment is presented. This model suggests that the two components in the neutrino beam are separated in space. After being created in a meson decay, the µ-neutrino moves 18 meters ahead of the beam’s center of energy, while the τ -neutrino is behind. Both neutrinos have subluminal speeds, however the advanced start of the ν µ explains why it arrives in the detector 60 ns earlier (...)
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  33. Eugene V. Stefanovich (2002). Is Minkowski Space-Time Compatible with Quantum Mechanics? Foundations of Physics 32 (5):673-703.
    In quantum relativistic Hamiltonian dynamics, the time evolution of interacting particles is described by the Hamiltonian with an interaction-dependent term (potential energy). Boost operators are responsible for (Lorentz) transformations of observables between different moving inertial frames of reference. Relativistic invariance requires that interaction-dependent terms (potential boosts) are present also in the boost operators and therefore Lorentz transformations depend on the interaction acting in the system. This fact is ignored in special relativity, which postulates the universality of Lorentz transformations and their (...)
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  34. Victor J. Stenger (1995). The Unconscious Quantum: Metaphysics in Modern Physics and Cosmology. Prometheus Books.
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  35. Stig Stenholm (2012). The Construction of Quantum Reality. Foundations of Physics 42 (1):86-97.
    This paper recognizes that quantum theory is not satisfactorily formulated; in spite of its empirical success, we may wish to consider the possibility to find more intuitively acceptable foundations. It is emphasized that the difference between classical physics and quantum theory lies in the fact that the latter depends in an essential way on classical descriptions of the observations from preparation to recording. In addition, only statistical predictions are possible. We discuss the case of entangled quantum systems. Performing an experiment (...)
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  36. Stig Stenholm (2011). The Quest for Reality: Bohr and Wittgenstein, Two Complementary Views. Oxford University Press, Usa.
    Machine generated contents note: -- 1. Prelude: The modern stance -- 2. Twilight of the gods -- 3. The view from Copenhagen -- 4. Epistemological interlude -- 5. Wittgenstein enters the scene -- 6. Shaky foundations -- 7. Physics interface -- 8. Philosophical consequences -- 9. Metaphysics and reality -- 10. Concluding epilogue.
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  37. August Stern (2000). Quantum Theoretic Machines: What is Thought From the Point of View of Physics. Elsevier.
    Making Sense of Inner Sense 'Terra cognita' is terra incognita. It is difficult to find someone not taken abackand fascinated by the incomprehensible but indisputable fact: there are material systems which are aware of themselves. Consciousness is self-cognizing code. During homo sapiens's relentness and often frustrated search for self-understanding various theories of consciousness have been and continue to be proposed. However, it remains unclear whether and at what level the problems of consciousness and intelligent thought can be resolved. Science's greatest (...)
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  38. August Stern (1994). The Quantum Brain: Theory and Implications. North-Holland/Elsevier.
    While for the majority of physicists the problem of the deciphering of the brain code, the intelligence code, is a matter for future generations, the author boldly and forcefully disagrees. Breaking with the dogma of classical logic he develops in the form of the conversion postulate a concrete working hypothesis for the actual thought mechanism. The reader is invited on a fascinating mathematical journey to the very edges of modern scientific knowledge. From lepton and quark to mind, from cognition to (...)
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  39. Ole Steuernagel (2007). Afshar's Experiment Does Not Show a Violation of Complementarity. Foundations of Physics 37 (9):1370-1385.
    A recent experiment performed by S. Afshar [first reported by M. Chown, New Sci. 183:30, 2004] is analyzed. It was claimed that this experiment could be interpreted as a demonstration of a violation of the principle of complementarity in quantum mechanics. Instead, it is shown here that it can be understood in terms of classical wave optics and the standard interpretation of quantum mechanics. Its performance is quantified and it is concluded that the experiment is suboptimal in the sense that (...)
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  40. Michael Stöltzner (2002). Bell, Bohm, and von Neumann: Some Philosophical Inequalities Concerning No-Go Theorems and the Axiomatic Method. In T. Placek & J. Butterfield (eds.), Non-Locality and Modality. Kluwer. 37--58.
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  41. Y. Strauss & L. P. Horwitz (2000). Representation of the Resonance of a Relativistic Quantum Field Theoretical Lee–Friedrichs Model in Lax–Phillips Scattering Theory. Foundations of Physics 30 (5):653-694.
    The quantum mechanical description of the evolution of an unstable system defined initially as a state in a Hilbert space at a given time does not provide a semigroup (exponential) decay, law. The Wigner–Weisskopf survival amplitude, describing reversible quantum transitions, may be dominated by exponential type decay in pole approximation at times not too short or too long, but, in the two channel case, for example, the pole residues are not orthogonal, and the evolution does riot correspond to a semigroup (...)
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  42. Witold Strawiński (2008). O kwantowej nielokalności i światach możliwych: uwagi polemiczne. Filozofia Nauki 1.
    In 2006 Tomasz F. Bigaj published in English a book "Non-locality and the Possible Worlds. A Counterfactual Perspective on Quantum Entanglement". He considered the question whether a satisfactory interpretation of quantum mechanics in the standard form should include the assumption of a non-local, immediate influence of one part of a specific quantum system (like two electrons in the singlet state) on the other, spatially separated part of that system. Bigaj - following H. Stapp - chooses as conceptual instruments of his (...)
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  43. M. Strevens (1996). Quantum Mechanics and Frequentism: A Reply to Ismael. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 47 (4):575-577.
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  44. Michael Strevens (1996). Quantum Mechanics and Frequentism: A Reply to Ismael. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 47 (4):575-577.
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  45. F. Strocchi (2004). Relativistic Quantum Mechanics and Field Theory. Foundations of Physics 34 (3):501-527.
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  46. Ward Struyve (2010). On Epstein's Trajectory Model of Non-Relativistic Quantum Mechanics. Foundations of Physics 40 (11):1700-1711.
    In 1952 Bohm presented a theory about non-relativistic point-particles that move deterministically along trajectories and showed how it reproduces the predictions of standard quantum theory. This theory was actually presented before by de Broglie in 1926, but Bohm’s particular formulation of the theory inspired Epstein to come up with a different trajectory model. The aim of this paper is to examine the empirical predictions of this model. It is found that the trajectories in this model are in general very different (...)
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  47. W. M. Stuckey, Michael Silberstein & Michael Cifone, The Relational Blockworld Interpretation of Non-Relativistic Quantum Mechanics.
    We introduce a new interpretation of non-relativistic quantum mechanics (QM) called Relational Blockworld (RBW). We motivate the interpretation by outlining two results due to Kaiser, Bohr, Ulfeck, Mottelson, and Anandan, independently. First, the canonical commutation relations for position and momentum can be obtained from boost and translation operators,respectively, in a spacetime where the relativity of simultaneity holds. Second, the QM density operator can be obtained from the spacetime symmetry group of the experimental configuration exclusively. We show how QM, obtained from (...)
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  48. William Mark Stuckey, Michael Silbserstein & Michael Cifone (2008). Reconciling Spacetime and the Quantum: Relational Blockworld and the Quantum Liar Paradox. [REVIEW] Foundations of Physics 38 (4):348-383.
    The Relational Blockworld (RBW) interpretation of non-relativistic quantum mechanics (NRQM) is introduced. Accordingly, the spacetime of NRQM is a relational, non-separable blockworld whereby spatial distance is only defined between interacting trans-temporal objects. RBW is shown to provide a novel statistical interpretation of the wavefunction that deflates the measurement problem, as well as a geometric account of quantum entanglement and non-separability that satisfies locality per special relativity and is free of interpretative mystery. We present RBW’s acausal and adynamical resolution of the (...)
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  49. A. I. Studenikin (ed.) (1997). Problems of Fundamental Physics: Proceedings, 7th Lomonosov Conference on Elementary Particle Physics (24-30 August 1995, Moscow, Russia). [REVIEW] Urss.
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  50. Werner Stulpe (1994). Some Remarks on Classical Representations of Quantum Mechanics. Foundations of Physics 24 (7):1089-1094.
    It is shown that, to a certain extent, the statistical framework of Hilbert-space quantum mechanics can be reformulated in classical terms.
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