Bohmian mechanics is a theory about point particles moving along trajectories. It has the property that in a world governed by Bohmian mechanics, observers see the same statistics for experimental results as predicted by quantum mechanics. Bohmian mechanics thus provides an explanation of quantum mechanics. Moreover, the Bohmian trajectories are defined in a non-conspiratorial way by a few simple laws.
The Ghirardi–Rimini–Weber (GRW) theory of spontaneous wave function collapse is known to provide a quantum theory without observers, in fact two different ones by using either the matter density ontology (GRWm) or the flash ontology (GRWf). Both theories are known to make predictions different from those of quantum mechanics, but the difference is so small that no decisive experiment can as yet be performed. While some testable deviations from quantum mechanics have long been known, we provide here something that has (...) until now been missing: a formalism that succinctly summarizes the empirical predictions of GRWm and GRWf. We call it the GRW formalism. Its structure is similar to that of the quantum formalism but involves different operators. In other words, we establish the validity of a general algorithm for directly computing the testable predictions of GRWm and GRWf. We further show that some well-defined quantities cannot be measured in a GRW world, for example the number of collapses in a system during a chosen time interval. (shrink)
My new homepage is at jostylr.com . The corresponding e-mail address is email@example.com . On my new homepage there will be information about Bohmian mechanics, my papers, professional information, and personal information. As of 7/30/04, there is not much there, but it should improve.
La meccanica quantistica è una delle più grandi conquiste intellettuali del xx secolo. Le sue leggi regolano il mondo atomico e subatomico e si riverberano su una miriade di fenomeni del mondo macroscopico, dalla formazione dei cristalli alla superconduttività, dalle proprietà dei ﬂuidi a bassa temperatura agli spettri di emissione di una candela che brucia o di una supernova che esplode, dai meccanismi di combustione della fornace solare ai principi di base delle nanotecnologie. Non c’è quasi nulla nel mondo che (...) ci circonda su cui non soffi l’alito delle leggi quantistiche. Tuttavia, per come è usualmente presentata nei libri di testo, la meccanica quantistica è sostanzialmente un’insieme di regole per calcolare le distribuzioni di probabilità dei risultati di qualunque esperimento (nel dominio di validità della meccanica quantistica). In quanto tale, non ci fornisce direttamente una descrizione della realtà. Una descrizione della realtà, cioè un’ontologia, dovrebbe dirci che cosa c’è nel mondo e come si comporta, quali sono i processi che si realizzano a livello microscopico e, di conseguenza, fornirci una spiegazione del formalismo quantistico. (shrink)
A major disagreement between different views about the foundations of quantum mechanics concerns whether for a theory to be intelligible as a fundamental physical theory it must involve a “primitive ontology” (PO), i.e., variables describing the distribution of matter in 4-dimensional space-time. In this paper, we illustrate the value of having a PO. We do so by focusing on the role that the PO plays for extracting predictions from a given theory and discuss valid and invalid derivations of predictions. To (...) this end, we investigate a number of examples based on toy models built from the elements of familiar interpretations of quantum theory. (shrink)
Bohmian mechanics and the Ghirardi-Rimini-Weber theory provide opposite resolutions of the quantum measurement problem: the former postulates additional variables (the particle positions) besides the wave function, whereas the latter implements spontaneous collapses of the wave function by a nonlinear and stochastic modification of Schrödinger's equation. Still, both theories, when understood appropriately, share the following structure: They are ultimately not about wave functions but about 'matter' moving in space, represented by either particle trajectories, fields on space-time, or a discrete set of (...) space-time points. The role of the wave function then is to govern the motion of the matter. (shrink)
Contrary to the widespread belief, the problem of the emergence of classical mechanics from quantum mechanics is still open. In spite of many results on the ¯h → 0 asymptotics, it is not yet clear how to explain within standard quantum mechanics the classical motion of macroscopic bodies. In this paper we shall analyze special cases of classical behavior in the framework of a precise formulation of quantum mechanics, Bohmian mechanics, which contains in its own structure the possibility of describing (...) real objects in an observer-independent way. (shrink)
We criticize speculations to the effect that quantum mechanics is fundamentally about information. We do this by pointing out how unfounded such speculations in fact are. Our analysis focuses on the dubious claims of this kind recently made by Anton Zeilinger.
In Bohmian mechanics elementary particles exist objectively, as point particles moving according to a law determined by a wavefunction. In this context, questions as to whether the particles of a certain species are real---questions such as, Do photons exist? Electrons? Or just the quarks?---have a clear meaning. We explain that, whatever the answer, there is a corresponding Bohm-type theory, and no experiment can ever decide between these theories. Another question that has a clear meaning is whether particles are intrinsically distinguishable, (...) i.e., whether particle world lines have labels indicating the species. We discuss the intriguing possibility that the answer is no, and particles are points---just points. (shrink)
Bohmian mechanics is a quantum theory with a clear ontology. To make clear what we mean by this, we shall proceed by recalling first what are the problems of quantum mechanics. We shall then briefly sketch the basics of Bohmian mechanics and indicate how Bohmian mechanics solves these problems and clarifies the status and the role of of the quantum formalism.
Classical physics is about real objects, like apples falling from trees, whose motion is governed by Newtonian laws. In standard quantum mechanics only the wave function or the results of measurements exist, and to answer the question of how the classical world can be part of the quantum world is a rather formidable task. However, this is not the case for Bohmian mechanics, which, like classical mechanics, is a theory about real objects. In Bohmian terms, the problem of the classical (...) limit becomes very simple: when do the Bohmian trajectories look Newtonian? (shrink)
A source of much difficulty and confusion in the interpretation of quantum mechanics is a naive realism about operators. By this we refer to various ways of taking too seriously the notion of operator-as-observable, and in particular to the all too casual talk about measuring operators that occurs when the subject is quantum mechanics. Without a specification of what should be meant by measuring a quantum observable, such an expression can have no clear meaning. A definite specification is provided by (...) Bohmian mechanics, a theory that emerges from Schrödinger's equation for a system of particles when we merely insist that particles means particles. Bohmian mechanics clarifies the status and the role of operators as observables in quantum mechanics by providing the operational details absent from standard quantum mechanics. It thereby allows us to readily dismiss all the radical claims traditionally enveloping the transition from the classical to the quantum realm — for example, that we must abandon classical logic or classical probability. The moral is rather simple: Beware naive realism, especially about operators! (shrink)