2019 International Workshop: Beyond Bell’s theorem

Microscopic account of a measurement process

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    Jonathan Schonfeld

    Every interpretation of quantum mechanics posits, as axioms, a set of rigid idealizations about measurement. (Examples: it’s intrinsically random; it’s a projection; it has a unique outcome as a pure state; a second measurement gets the same answer when applied to the output of a first measurement of the same property of the same system; the Born rule holds; etc.) Sweeping conclusions are then drawn about unitarity, or the multiplicity of worlds, or the existence of more fundamental levels of physical law, or even the nature of logic itself. However, in fact no such axioms have been exhaustively tested in the lab, so why is everyone so confident that any of them is 100% right, or even formulated correctly? I have attempted to create a tractable, microscopically detailed theoretical model of a specific physical measurement, the double-slit interference experiment; and I have attempted to analyze that model by applying unitary dynamics in a clean-slate fashion (no a priori assumptions about intrinsic randomness or probability or the behavior or even existence of an observer, etc.). I find that I can account for the known phenomenology of the experiment I model (of course not without some open questions). In the process, I also derive insight into what really goes on “under the hood” of familiar axioms like the projection postulate and the Born rule, and where to look to see them break down (but Bell’s analysis survives). I would like to discuss this work and related issues.

    Please consult doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsb.2019.04.009 or arXiv:1905.00277 [physics.gen-ph].

    Ruth Kastner
    Ruth Kastner

    Jonathan, I have to differ with your initial claim that “Every interpretation of quantum mechanics posits, as axioms, a set of rigid idealizations about measurement.” This not the case, since the transactional interpretation does not do so. Measurement is neither idealized nor an axiom in TI (nor in RTI, the relativistic version.) In TI, “measurement” is simply emission/absorption (any radiative process) as accounted for by the direct-action theory of fields. The following paper, published in this journal (IJQF), derives the Born Rule from such a process: https://www.ijqf.org/archives/4871

    It should be noted that non-unitarity occurs naturally in this picture, through absorber response, which is well-defined (as shown in the above paper). TI carried a stigma for a while due to an alleged refutation by Maudlin, but that has been shown to be completely nullified at the relativistic level: https://arxiv.org/abs/1610.04609

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