Realism in energy transition processes: An example from Bohmian quantum mechanics

Synthese 154 (3):349-370 (2007)
Abstract
In this paper we study in details a system of two weakly coupled harmonic oscillators from the point of view of Bohm’s interpretation of quantum mechanics. This system may be viewed as a simple model for the interaction between a photon and a photodetector. We obtain exact solutions for the general case. We then compute approximate solutions for the case where one oscillator is initially in its first excited state (a single photon) reaching the other oscillator in its ground state (the photodetector). The approximate solutions represent the state of both oscillators after the interaction, which is not an eigenstate of the individual hamiltonians for each oscillator, and therefore the energies for each oscillator do not exist in the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. We use the approximate solutions that we obtained to compute Bohmian trajectories and to study the energy transfer between the oscillators. We conclude that, even using the Bohmian view, the energy of each individual oscillator is not well defined, as the nonlocal quantum potential is not negligible even after the coupling is turned off.
Keywords Causal interpretation of quantum mechanics  Bohm’s theory  Realism
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