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Quantum Future Physics
This page was updated October 18, 1996. I am working on it. At present
the organization of this page is far from being an optimal one. In fact
I do not know yet what would be the optimal organization. I am open to
suggestions. If You have any  please send me an email...
Introduction
Quantum Theory is special. It is the most recent one. It is one that
is most difficult to grasp  I mean it needs the most advanced mathematical
tools. Understanding it is still another business. As Richard Feynman
put it: "nobody understands quantum theory." It is also probably
the most successful one. I say "probably," because electrodynamics
 which we owe to Ampere, Faraday, Maxwell and Lorentz  is perhaps the
best tested. We know its powers and we know its limits. Quantum Theory
is unexpectedly successful. It was invented to account for strange
regularities of spectral lines  it was supposed to give a useful mathematical
description of electrons circling around nuclei on somewhat special orbits.
Soon it became apparent that its formal rules apply almost everywhere.
Today it is not unusual to find a physicist who would like to "quantize"
everything  including space and time and brain and mind. It is true that
Quantum Theory was very successful in helping us to get some
very precise numbers  that were later confirmed in experiments. But
it is also true that it only helped us to compute these numbers.
Quantum Theory could not produce these numbers by itself. I mean,
there is something very special about QT. The point is that we
do not understand it. It is, in a sense, an incomplete theory.
I am using here a rather special meaning of incompleteness. Not the one
used by Einstein in his combat with Bohr. What I mean here is that in
each particular case we  human beings must complete
it somehow.
The following long excerpt comes from the introduction to the "Theory
of Events." It was written for the experts, so below I am commenting
here and there...
The usual formalism of quantum theory fails in this respect ( to
provide a solution to the quantum measurement problem). Let us look,
for instance, into a recent book on the subject, `The
interpretation of quantum theory'.
Comment:
~This book is devoted mainly to the so called "consistent
histories" interpretation of quantum theory. This interpretation
contains some new elements, gives some hope to overcome some of the conceptual
difficulties. But also it has its own problems. Omnes is well aware of
these problems.
There we can see both the difficulties as well as the methods that
attempt to overcome them. We disagree with the optimism shared by many,
perhaps by a majority of quantum physicists. They seem to believe that
the problem is already solved, or almost solved, or will be solved pretty
soon within this approach.
Comment:
~In fact there is no agreement between physicists.
There is a school more or less connected to the consistent histories approach
and to the so called "decoherence" program. But there is also
quite a large school that descends from Bohm's program of nonlocal hidden
variables theories. The problem with the second school is that it does
not dare to predict new results which would diverge from that of the orthodox
quantum theory. There is also a school related to the "many worlds
interpretation." Well, there are several others (e.g. Nelson's stochastic
mechanics, stochastic electrodynamics). These schools do not fight at
conferences! Rather they tolerate each other. Everybody is well aware
of his own week points...
They use a magic spell; and at present the magic spell that is supposed
to dissolve the problems is `decoherence.'
Comment:
~The main idea behind the decoherence program is this: we
need to understand why the macroscopic world seems to be, or indeed is
"FPP" (for All Practical Purposes) classical, while the
microscopic reality (if any "reality" exists on this level at
all) obeys strange rules of quantum theory. The decoherence program tries
to derive this fact from the everpresent action of "environment."
So some "environment" is blamed for destroying quantum interference.
But then, what is the environment for the Universe? Well, then we can
still blame the mysterious black holes.
It is true that there are new ideas and new results in the decoherence
approach. But these results did not quite solve the problem. Realworldevents,
in particular pointer readings of measuring apparata, have never been
obtained within this approach. Decoherence does not tell us yet how to
program a computer to simulate such events. A physicist, a human being,
must intervene to decide what to decohere and how to decohere and on which
basis it is to be distinguished.
Comment:
~The discussion here becomes a little bit technical. In
quantum theory we deal with complementary variables. Position alone is
good. It is classical. Momentum alone is also good. It is also classical.
But position AND momentum  well ... there are certain troubles in quantum
theory with assuming that both are well defined at the same time. There
is the famous Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. In the decoherence program,
it is necessary to end with either position OR momentum, or something
else, but only with ONE such classical quantity. It is called the "pointer
basis."
What must be neglected and what must not? Which limit to take?
That necessity of a human intervention is not a surprise. The standard
quantum formalism simply has no resources that can be called for when
we wish to derive the basic postulates about measurements and probabilities.
These postulates are repeated in all textbooks. They are never derived.
Comment:
~In fact, the "many worlds interpretation" claims
that it is able to derive quantum postulates. I tried to understand this
 but I failed in disgust. Today my disgust is not as strong as then.
This is for the following reason: in "many worlds" approach
you assume that every time a measurement is done  the world splits! But
WHAT IS MEASUREMENT? WHEN it is done? How often is the world supposed
to split? There are no answers to these questions. With the new theory
that this paper is part of  these questions CAN get precise answers.
Also the hidden variables theories claim to be able to derive quantum
postulates. But when you analyze their assumptions, then you see that
you must put in assumptions that must be justified. The proponents are
well aware of these difficulties and they are working hard indeed to find
these justifications.
The usual probabilistic interpretation of quantum theory is postulated
from outside. It is not deduced from within the formalism. That is rather
unsatisfactory. We want to believe that quantum theory is fundamental,
but its interpretation is so arbitrary! Must it be so?
Comment:
~The fact that we are asking here this question is nothing
but a straightforward consequence of the other fact: that we think WE
CAN do better... :)
Many physicists would oppose this. They disagree with such a criticism.
They see that quantum theory is good, is excellent, because it gives excellent
results. But there are other voices too. We like to recall John Bell's
opinion on this matter. He has studied the subject rather deeply. He emphasized
it repeatedly (cf. [bell89],
[bell90]):
our problems with quantum measurement are based on a very fundamental
idea: The reason is that the very concept of ` measurement' can not
even be precisely defined within the standard formalism.
Comment:
~In fact, John Bell was more than disgusted with the way
quantum theory is presented and interpreted. He went to the point that
he proposed to BAN the very word "measurement," and several
other "selfexplanatory" concepts. I am wondering if today he
would not ban also the word "environment"... (gh..).
That is also our opinion. But we do not only share his criticism,
we also propose a way out that is new.
Our solution does not involve hidden variables (but we like to joke
that the standard quantum state vector can be considered as a hidden
variable). Our reasoning goes as follows:
First, we point out the reason why `measurement' can not be
defined within the standard approach. It is true that the standard formalism
of quantum theory has many sophisticated tools: it has Hilbert spaces,
wave vectors, operators, spectral measures, POV measures; but it has
no place for ` events'. What constitutes an event? The only candidate
for an event that we can think of is change of a quantum state vector.
Comment:
~Most physicists believe in one God  the all quantum God.
This all quantum God must be  according to them  all perfect, all quantum
coherent. But then, where does the "decoherence" come from?
How can anything happen, if all is wavelike and continuous? Well, the
only thing that can happen to a wave in a wavy word is that the wave changes
its shape. In quantum theory, probability waves, or rather waves of amplitudes
of probabilities, are represented by vectors in a "Hilbert space."
But how do we observe state vectors? We can not see them directly.
Comment:
~That is: we do not see "probability waves." We
see facts. They may be good facts or bad facts, right facts, or wrong
facts, telling us much or telling us little  but they are facts! Not
waves.
We were taught by Bohr and Heisenberg that any observation will
disturb a quantum state. Well, unless the state is already known to us,
then we can try to be clever and not disturb it.
Comment:
~At this place we have in mind a rather provocative paper
by Y. Aharonov and L. Vaidman. This paper was later criticized by Unruh
and others. The question was: is the quantum state an "objective"
or "subjective" thing. Can we know it without disturbing it?
This question is still open. But a way to answer this question is sketched
in [jad94a].
But how can we know the state? We need a theory, that will help
us to answer these questions. We are proposing such a theory. We have
extended the standard formalism. We do it in a minimal way: just enough
to accommodate classical events. We add explicitly a classical part to
the quantum part, and we couple classical to the quantum.
Comment:
~That is we follow the line of thought initialized by Niels
Bohr. He often stressed that we must talk to our colleagues using
the classical language  otherwise communication (and thus science) would
not be possible. Also Heisenberg stressed the necessity of placing, at
some point, a cut between what is quantum and what is classical.
Both Bohr and Heisenberg did not go beyond talking about these
matters. The theory that dwells on these pages goes beyond just talk.
It is based on the talk, but it proposes mathematics that transform
words into quantitative predictions. This mathematics is not easy.
But it is not more difficult than that used in statistical predictions
of stock market behaviour. In fact, it is the same! There are many phenomena
around us that show a somewhat peculiar behaviour: everything goes smoothly
... up to a point. Then there is a crash. This crash takes a certain time,
sometimes a fraction of a second (sand pile microavalanche), sometimes
just few seconds (earthquake), sometimes longer (stock market crash).
After the crash all goes again smoothly  for a while... What is important:
while the smooth evolution is predictable (although its predictions may
be unreliable  like with the weather and other phenomena where prediction
is sensitive to errors in the input data), the crash period, the period
of catastrophe, has an inbuilt roulette mechanism. Determinism gives up,
indeterminism is ruling this short time. And then, everything is quiet
again. And we are sure that tomorrow will be much as today. This is good.
Because we can plan. This is bad. Because we can influence next to nothing.
The theory that dwells on these pages received the name EEQT for Event
Enhanced Quantum Theory. Standard Quantum Theory knows not about stock
market crashes and catastrophes. It knows only continuous evolution of
"probability vectors." We enhance it adding events.
They are also known as "quantum jumps." Some physicists say
 these events do not exist. Some others say: they exist only in "mind."
We do not care. Old physics was based on differential equations. Quantum
Theory is based on Schroedinger's Equation. It is time now to look for
a new physics. New physics will be based on algorithms rather than differential
calculus. EEQT proposes such an algorithm. It is called PDP
(piecewise deterministic process). It is borrowed from stock market mathematics.
Long periods of determinism (modified, continuous Schroedinger evolution)
are interrupted from time to time by discontinuous changes  events. EEQT
gives mathematical laws that make it possible to predict as much as can
be predicted under these circumstances. It also puts into our hands tools
to intervene. It gives us hope to be free  as much as possible in this
strange, partially determined, but occasionally not, quantoclassical,
spiritomaterial world.
Then we define `experiments' and `measurements' within the so extended
formalism. We can show that the standard postulates concerning measurements
 in fact, in an enhanced and refined form  can be derived instead of
being postulated.
Comment
~
In this respect our theory differs from Bohm's theory. As
we noted above, Bohm's theory refrains from making new predictions. Our
theory, EEQT, is testable. It is falsifiable. It gives new predictions.
For a while however, we do not treat this theory as the last word. We
want to check first to see if it survives a difficult test: if it can
be made relativistic.
This `event enhanced quantum theory', as we call it, gives
experimental predictions that are stronger than those obtained from the
standard theory. The new theory gives answers to more experimental questions
than the old one. It provides algorithms for numerical simulations of
experimental time series given by experiments with single quantum systems.
In particular this new theory is falsifiable. But our program is not yet
complete. Our theory is based on an explicit selection of a classical
subsystem. How to select what is classical? If we want to be on the safe
side as much as possible, or as long as possible, then we will shift `classical'
into the observer's mind. But will we be safe then? For how long? Soon
we will need to extend our theory and to include a theory of mind and
a theory of knowledge. That necessity will confront us anyway, perhaps
even soon.
Comment:
~These sentences show clearly that the spirit of Popper's
metaphysics is behind these ideas. On my other pages I am quite open about
metaphysical ideas that were responsible for this, and not some other,
approach.
But it is not clear that the cut must reside that far from ordinary
physics. For many practical applications the measuring apparatus itself,
or its relevant part, can be considered classical. We need to derive such
a splitting into classical and quantum from some clear principles. At
present we do not know what these principles are, we can only guess.
~Let me be frank: I have two guesses at present: my first
guess is that "classical has something to do with light. I
remember the title of H.P. Stapp's paper "Light at the foundation
of being"  or something similar. Another possibility is : classical
is logic, or word, or mind. These two options are
not exclusive...
At the present stage, placement of the split is indeed phenomenological,
and the coupling is phenomenological too. Both are simple to handle and
easy to describe in our formalism. But where to put the Heisenberg's cut
 that is arbitrary to some extent. Perhaps we need not worry too much?
Perhaps relativity of the split is a new feature that will remain with
us. We do not know. That is why we call our theory `phenomenological.'
But we would like to stress that the standard, orthodox, pure quantum
theory is not better in this respect. In fact, it is much worse.
~Here comes criticism of the standard quantum theory. I
do not expect that this criticism will be understood. Quantum theory is
so difficult, and there is so much brainwashing, that the student, after
learning some of its abstract mathematics, after being discouraged so
many times to ask questions that are said to make no sense  every student,
no exception starts to believe that he now knows the secret of
secrets. Teaching of QM is, in this respect, very much similar to teaching
of TM. (If you want to know the results of the last  see Trancenet
site )
It is not even able to define what measurement is. It is not even
a phenomenological theory. In fact, strictly speaking, it is not even
a theory. It is partly an art, and that needs an artist. In this case
it needs a physicist with his human experience and with his human intuition.
Suppose we have a problem that needs quantum theory for its solution.
Then our physicist, guided by his intuition, will replace the problem
at hand by another problem, that can be handled. After that, guided by
his experience, he will compute Green's function or whatsoever to get
formulas out of this other problem. Finally, guided by his previous experience
and by his intuition, he will interpret the formulas that he got, and
he will predict some numbers for the experiment.
That job can not be left to a computing machine in an unmanned spacecraft.
We may feel proud that we are so necessary, that we can not be replaced
by machines.
~In July 1995, in Bielefeld, Germany, there was a conference
"Quantum Theory Without Observers." It was mostly dominated
by the proponents of Bohmian mechanics, but not totally. All the main
currents of QM were represented there. One of the ideas that was heard
again and again was this: a theory, a physical theory, should have all
in the equations. Not in the "background." The present day QM
is not of this kind. EEQT aspires to be such.
But would it not be better if we could spare our creativity for inventing
new theories rather than spending it unnecessarily for application of
the old ones?
~What I mean here is this: any theory, quantum theory should
not be an exception here, should give us algorithms that are able to predict
the future events given past events. This prediction should include not
only "what will happen," but also "when it will happen."
Clear: predictions will have a probabilistic character. Standard QM is
not able to give such predictions  it does not even know the concept
of an event. In fact, it denies that events exist (well... perhaps approximately...).
EEQT aspires to be such a theory.
Our theory is better in this respect. Once we have chosen a model  then
reality, with all its events as they happen in time, can be simulated
by a sufficiently powerful digital computer.
Theory
Classical Mechanics is about bodies. Bodies can be small or big. Can
be rigid or can be fluid. In the simplest possible case we have just one
body and this body is just a point. This point is a point in space. Nobody
knows exactly what space is, but we all know that it is a very
useful concept. What can a point in space do? It can move. It can change
its position with time. Again, nobody knows what time is  but
we believe: somebody will know one day, and so we continue. There are
two more important concepts without which we can not discuss what classical
mechanics is. The first concept is that of force. Again, force is not
something that you can define. But we can talk about force
in a descriptive way. For instance, we can say: when there no forces acting
on a body, then it moves along a straight line with a constant velocity.
Or, we can say: when there are no other bodies around, then no force acts
on our body  because forces may come only from other bodies. Of course,
this sentence assumes that we know what we mean by "straight line,"
what is "constant velocity", and what we mean by "around."
And, precisely speaking, we do not know. But science is always
this way. It is impossible to base it only on logic. It exists because
of experience.
When we know forces, we say that we know dynamics. And when we
know dynamics  then we can use Newton's equation to calculate future
positions of the bodies, provided we know their positions and velocities
now. It is because of this that we call the pair (position,velocity) by
the name state. (By the way: this is not always the case, because
for bodies with spin, or with variable mass, things are not that simple.)
So state in physics and in engineering is a something with the
property that, if we know it now, then we can compute it for later times
 provided we know forces and other external factors (and provided we
know what is later, which is not that evident in Einstein's Relativity.)
We do not need necessarily to consider dynamics to speak about
classical states. For instance, when we consider a switch  then
it can be in one of the two states: on or off. And a digital voltmeter
that can, at most, show the number 999, (poor quality indeed) can be in
one of its 1000 states. And its state can change with time. It will either
change by jumping or continuously as our material point.
Now, let us compare this with Quantum Mechanics. Here we do
not know what state is at all. But nevertheless it is the most important
concept. There are two ways that Quantum Theory is introduced in textbooks.
The first way is through waves. To hypnotize the minds of young
students one starts talking about waves that they already know about.
Waves on a water, acoustic waves, electromagnetic waves... Then waves
in general. One introduces complex numbers  because "they are
so convenient." Then one shows beautiful diffraction pictures, and
then one tells about de Broglie hypothesis and about Schroedinger's equation.
Then it becomes very difficult, so difficult that everybody easily
accepts when he is being told: that these are not real waves, but
probability waves, that they are not even probability waves but
rather complex amplitude waves, and that they do not propagate in our
space but rather in a multidimensional configuration space...
And that they are in fact not so much waves, but vectors in Hilbert space,
and not so much vectors, but rather rays, and that usually they are not
in Hilbert space because their norm is infinite so that they reside in
a rigged Hilbert space  whatever that means....
At that moment everybody stops thinking and moves to calculate  because
they are sure there are many things about these waves that can
be calculated! Nobody dares to ask: what is that nonsense about these
complex probability waves. OK, some people do dare. Like R.P. Feynman.
But isn't he joking?
There is also another way of teaching Quantum Theory. This second method
is similar to how engineers are being taught about system theory.
I do prefer this second method, as it does not pretend at all that something
is to be understood. We have a black box, and we want simple
mathematical models that are useful for calculating some characteristics
of the black box  from the knowledge of some other characteristics. So,
we are building phenomenological models, and do not pretend that
these models reside in the box. Model is model, and box is box.
These models reside on a paper and in a computer that is doing simulations.
While the box resides in Nature. This second way of teaching quantum mechanics
has advantages. It is, so to say, more moral. But it has disadvantages
as well. Why? Because, as Feynman has noticed, "nobody understands
quantum mechanics." Because of this, to get from it numbers,
we have to resort to all kinds of analogies and to cheating. This necessity
of cheating, of replacing one problem that we can't solve  even
in principle, by another one  that we can, became so much a normal
affair that we do not even notice it. In this way Quantum Theory,
the best physical theory that we ever had, contributes to an exponential
decrease of morale of physicists. Hopefully EEQT, or something
even better, will stop this fatal descent...
To be continued ...
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