David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 29 (2):151-182 (1998)
The traditional formalism of quantum mechanics is mainly used to describe ensembles of identical systems (with a density-operator formalism) or single isolated systems, but is not capable of describing single open quantum objects with many degrees of freedom showing pure-state stochastic dynamical behaviour. In particular, stochastic 'line-migration' as in single-molecule spectroscopy of defect molecules in a molecular matrix is not adequately described. Starting with the Bohr scenario of stochastic quantum jumps (between strict energy eigenstates), we try to incorporate more general pure-state stochastic dynamical behaviour into the quantum mechanical formalism.Probability distributions of (approximately) pure states, arising through the stochastic pure-state dynamics for long times, give rise to appropriate decompositions of thermal density operators. These decompositions of density operators into pure states mediate between quantum mechanics for ensembles of molecules and quantum theory for single molecules (or single dressed quantum objects). We suggest that such decompositions should be consistent with infinite limits (e.g. the Born-Oppenheimer limit for infinite nuclear masses) in the sense that quantum fluctuations (around classical behaviour in the infinite limit) die out asymptotically.
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