January 22 & 29, 2003
Willet Science Center 101
Strangeness Part 1: The Problem"
"Quantum Strangeness Part 2: Solutions?"
Abstract: The quantum measurement problem has plagued physicists since the 1920s, when the quantum theory was first put on a rigorous mathematical footing. Prominent physicists like Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Schroedinger, Bohm, Wigner, Wheeler, Bell, Feynman, and Penrose all had something to say on the matter. But perhaps the best known illustration is the (in)famous Schroedinger's Cat Paradox, which pits a lovable kitty versus an unstable nucleus, a vial of poison gas, and unfathomable quantum indeterminacy...
In Part 1 we introduce the problem, which appears already in the simplest of quantum measurements: the detection of a single photon of light. We continue with analysis of single slit and double slit experiments, the Stern-Gerlach device, and of course Schroedinger's cat. Early explanations of the strangeness of quantum behavior are presented, including Bohr's Copenhagen interpretation, the statistical interpretation, and Von Neumann's chain of detectors. The problem is not solved...
In Part 2 we add fuel to the fire with the EPR debate and Bell's Theorem. Then a host of explanations for the strange quantum behavior are offered. These range from the prosaic (decoherence), to the poetic (the conscious observer of Wigner and Wheeler). Time permitting, we consider Everett's many worlds, the many minds of Albert, DeBroglie-Bohm determinism, consistent histories by Omne and Griffiths, GRW's spontaneous localization, Penrose's non-algorithmic curvature-induced measurements, and the speaker's own contribution to the topic, an extended deterministic version of quantum theory with multiple observers...
join us for light refreshments outside WSC 109 at 4:15.
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