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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Ulla Mattfolk: on 5/2/11 at 15:29pm UTC, wrote Hi. I see now first that you have the same topic as me, decoherence and...

basudeba: on 3/20/11 at 6:14am UTC, wrote Sub: Possibility of manipulation in judging criteria – suggestions for...

Ann Catherine Braxton: on 3/15/11 at 18:25pm UTC, wrote Dear Mr. Bates, Your essay is a most impressive argument about coherence, a...

basudeba: on 3/14/11 at 1:00am UTC, wrote Dear Sir, We have gone through your excellent article. While agreeing...

Neil Bates: on 3/13/11 at 22:27pm UTC, wrote Ben, thanks for commenting. I think some readers will be confused by the...

Janko Kokosar: on 3/11/11 at 20:50pm UTC, wrote Dear Neil Bates You opened important topic about decoherence. I suggest...

ben b.: on 3/10/11 at 19:23pm UTC, wrote The information per the theory of this article was very concise in my...

John Benavides: on 3/9/11 at 8:22am UTC, wrote Dear Neil, I read with great interest your essay, your ideas are very...


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FQXi FORUM
July 25, 2014

CATEGORY: FQXi Essay Contest - Is Reality Digital or Analog? [back]
TOPIC: Our Non-Deterministic Reality Is Neither Digital Nor Analog: Experimental Tests Can Show That Decoherence Fails to Resolve the Measurement Problem by Neil Bates [refresh]
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Author Neil Bates wrote on Feb. 17, 2011 @ 18:25 GMT
Essay Abstract

Abstract: Is reality best described in digital or analog terms? In proper context, we are asking: what type of math is best for that purpose? However, I argue that our universe is genuinely non-deterministic, as conventional notions of quantum mechanics imply. Since mathematics is by nature deterministic, reality is not fully describable by any true mathematical model. The best answer to the original question is then, “neither – reality transcends mathematics.” It is argued that some popular attempts to avoid the quantum measurement problem, such as the decoherence interpretation, are flawed. The logical case for DI is flawed by the circular argument at its core. More importantly: some experiments are described, which could falsify the DI. If successful, they would show that we can recover superpositions supposedly lost to decoherence. Hence our finding definitive experimental outcomes instead of superposed results is not due to the effects of decoherence. Those definite, exclusionary results show a genuinely indeterminate character of the universe.

Author Bio

I consider myself a "Renaissance man" because of the variety of studies and work I've been involved in. That includes some consulting at J-Lab using G4Beamline to model muon interactions, teaching at various levels, museum guide, etc. I am lucky that Internet search for "quantum measurement paradox" usually brings up blog posts of mine in top hits. I've published some in physics. The articles are about the relativistic dynamics of extended bodies, a sadly neglected topic. However, I am to be considered "an amateur"

Download Essay PDF File




Steve Dufourny wrote on Feb. 18, 2011 @ 12:02 GMT
Hi dear Neil Bates,

Congratulations,it's a beautiful essay.

Your conclusion is interesting, a dodecahedre, I prefer the sphere of course but all is free of thinking.

Good luck.

Steve

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Neil Bates replied on Feb. 19, 2011 @ 00:13 GMT
Steve, the dodecahedron-bird was in a dream I had (for real) in IIRC the late 80s. It is just a poetic metaphor for the enigmatic nature of our universe, not a conceptual model of reality relating to its shape. It does have some relations to other ideas: I had the dream some years before reading about Penrose's "magic dodecahedron" of quantum mystery published in 94. That shape does lend itself to making Penrose's point about quantum entanglement. Note also, when the Platonic solids are used to represent elements:

cube: earth

tetrahedron: fire

octahedron: air

icosahedron: water

and the dodecahedron is "quintessence" - the mystical fifth element of the heavens, and sometimes "the universe" as a whole. Since I knew that when I had the dream, I think it really did symbolize that whole issue of fruitlessly chasing after the ultimate nature of reality.

Some physicists do refer to a special stuff or field they call quintessence. Wikipedia says: "In physics, quintessence is a hypothetical form of dark energy postulated as an explanation of observations of an accelerating universe."

However, my essential point is that the popular and spreading notion that decoherence explains why we don't see macroscopic superpositions, is false. I give logical arguments and propose experiments to test my challenge.

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Steve Dufourny replied on Mar. 3, 2011 @ 11:57 GMT
Hi Dear Neil, sorry for my late answer, I have some difficulties now to answer to all posts on the net.I thank you for this explaination, spiritual, it's a beautiful philosophycal extrapolation.

Good luck in this contest.

Regards

Steve

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Alan Lowey wrote on Feb. 18, 2011 @ 14:19 GMT
Hello Neil, I also agree that reality must transcend maths. Have you ever considered the mechanical model of a GRAVITON being represented by an Archimedes screw? This would certainly transcend Newton's famous equation, wouldn't it? Thanks for your essay.

Kind regards,

Alan

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Stefan Weckbach wrote on Feb. 19, 2011 @ 19:00 GMT
If DI would be inconsistent with certain experiments, this would be an interesting finding. Anyways, i enjoyed your essay and the quantum mechanical depths you explore with rigorousity.

I too outline an experiment to discriminate between a unitary deterministic evolution of the Schrödinger's wave function and the possibility that this wave function breaks down at some point. If you want, read it here and let me know what you think.

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Dan J. Bruiger wrote on Feb. 20, 2011 @ 01:25 GMT
Hi, Neil

I agree that natural reality cannot fully be represented by mathematics (or any form of deductive system). I come to this conclusion by an entirely different route, which you might find interesting (my essay "topic/852"). No one has taken me to task (yet) for the core assertion: if nature is real, then it is non-deterministic; and if it is deterministic, then it is not real".

Best wishes and thanks,

Dan

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Feb. 21, 2011 @ 01:20 GMT
Neil,

A wonderful essay. Not what I would consider "an amateur". Reading it, I assumed that your logic is valid [nothing stood out to contradict this assumption] and the logic is beautiful.

In his Appendix A in "Dance of the Photons", Zeilinger has Prof Quantinger explain things in terms of sets of twins, with height, hair and eye colors as the 'properties' found by measurement. He then derives Bell's inequality from the data set and claims that violation of the inequality is grounds for abandoning local realism, and that we must then assume that these properties don't exist until measured, and moreover, that as soon as one twin is measured, the other, possibly 'infinitely' far away, immediately assumes the appropriate state.

I find it easier to believe that one of the twins stopped at the barber shop and had his hair dyed.

I show in my essay a plausible reason to suspect this. I'm unsure whether this may be what you are referring to when you state "we have to assume that something can and does generate statistics of some kind from wave amplitudes in the first place."

So far, yours may be the only other essay to propose an experiment to test your idea.

So thanks for a great essay, and I hope you get a chance to look at mine. Some of our ideas go quite well together. Good luck in the contest.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Neil Bates replied on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 02:43 GMT
Thanks, Edwin. I call myself an "amateur" because of my station in the operational and semantic scheme of things, it need not imply lack of ability (see for example Olympic athletes just for logical illustration.) Also, since there is a prize category for best amateur's essay, I should ID myself as eligible.

Aside from the experimental refutation of the claim of "mixture" output caused by decoherence, I do mean that something has to generate the statistical events from the wavefunction. It isn't just an intrinsic feature of the states, otherwise there would just be the superposition "photon hit in detector A" plus "... in detector B" forever. I wasn't addressing entanglement in the Bell sense of distant correlations, but the ordinary "entanglement" in DI of photon wave at detector A entangles with clicked state of detector A, etc.

I will take a look at your essay, and withhold substantial comment until I'm sure I understand in depth. I think you (and other readers) would find other posts at my blog interesting too, find at Paradoxer.

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Phil Warnell wrote on Feb. 21, 2011 @ 15:27 GMT
I find this a very thorough discussion regarding the weaknesses of DI in it failing to resolve 'on its own' the measurement problem. However this is not exactly a new revelation, although admittedly an important one needing more exposure to be better understood and would argue particularly within the theoretical community itself. For instance many of the same points have been raised previously...

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Neil Bates replied on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 02:01 GMT
First, to its enthusiasts in general: I regret not mentioning Bohmian mechanics in my article. Note restriction to 25,000 characters which made the piece shorter than I wanted. I had to ditch some extra discussion about other alternatives etc. I also needed a definite declarative point to grab attention. I also just don't think BM would work out. For example, I still don't see how a deterministic process could make nuclei decay in true random manner. Note that a remaining portion after many trimmings still has to show the same statistical behavior. I don't think any "mechanism" whatsoever can do that.

Thanks Phil for the consideration and effort you put into essays and comments. Let me say in my defense, as elsewhere: I noted simply that we don't have any answer right now in the sense of knowing the answer, nor do we have a right to *assume* that there *must be* a reasonable answer to the QMP - not that in Nature there really can't be such an answer, and/or that we can never find it, and/or that BM cannot possibly be such an answer. I acknowledge that Bohmian mechanics is an option that avoids either the decoherence fallacy, or the inscrutability of collapse; however I am not otherwise impressed with it. Finally, regarding DI: It is wrong in any case to use fallacious methods and conceptualizations, to attempt to achieve the goal of understanding fundamental quantum reality - whatever is there to be attained. I hope that my experimental proposals will transcend just having to argue over these issues.

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Michael Thomas Deans wrote on Feb. 25, 2011 @ 15:55 GMT
Dear Neil,

I note that my reply to your comments on my 'Chip in the brain' essay are headed 'anonymous' - all is not well with my computer at present. The maths theorems I mentioned are available as an attachment to an earlier post to my essay. My email address, when I recover access to it, is michaeltdeans@gmail.com

Best wishes, Michael T Deans

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Dan J. Bruiger wrote on Feb. 28, 2011 @ 17:31 GMT
Hi, Neil

Thanks again for your great essay, and your appreciation of mine. In response to your statement (on my own thread), that “arguments can't decisively show what to think about determinism versus true indeterminism”, I can offer some general, if somewhat dogmatic, arguments about causality. (This is posted on my thread as well).

Following Hume, there is no causation in...

view entire post


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Member Ian Durham wrote on Mar. 1, 2011 @ 19:53 GMT
Hi Neil,

I finally managed to find time to read your essay. Nice job! I have a few comments.

- It seems to me that, at times, you are "mixing metaphors" a bit when it comes to the wave-particle duality issue, notably on p. 3. This is related to my next comment.

- You talk about the confuser in relation to particle statistics. If you do this, you need to identify the type of statistics that is being produced by the beam, e.g. Poissonian, sub-Poissonian, or super-Poissonian, because it seems to me that it could make all the difference in the world which type of statistics is being sent into it.

- I'm still not sure precisely if you are arguing *against* or *for* this interpretation of the wavefunction in terms of statistics. If you are, then you have to ignore the continuous wave interpretation entirely, at least that is my opinion. You have to pick one or the other. It makes no sense to mix interpretations (I am by no means saying you are the only one who does this, by the way - I think it is an inherent problem in how we interpret these things in general).

Ian

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Anonymous replied on Mar. 3, 2011 @ 02:49 GMT
Ian, thanks for your thoughts. I'm not sure how to respond re mixing of wave particle metaphors. We already know that Nature expresses both traits. The DI interpretation tries to get "mixtures" out of wavefunctions via a sort of circular argument, as I noted. Remember, I am first trying to "get inside" their argument, then criticize it as being inconsistent. The whole point is, their argument is not really "coherent" (pun intended!) As for the statistics: the source is a "photon gun" that shoots one at a time, coherence time

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Neil Bates replied on Mar. 3, 2011 @ 02:50 GMT
I already logged in and this rubbish shouldn't happen to me. I should not be shown as "anonymous" and where is the rest of my reply? I will try again:

Ian, thanks for your thoughts. I'm not sure how to respond re mixing of wave particle metaphors. We already know that Nature expresses both traits. The DI interpretation tries to get "mixtures" out of wavefunctions via a sort of circular argument, as I noted. Remember, I am first trying to "get inside" their argument, then criticize it as being inconsistent. The whole point is, their argument is not really "coherent" (pun intended!) As for the statistics: the source is a "photon gun" that shoots one at a time, coherence time

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Author Neil Bates replied on Mar. 7, 2011 @ 02:30 GMT
Here again I attempt to resubmit my full (but edited) reply to Member Ian Durham, that got truncated (maybe from use of double less than symbol) and other issues. It includes my attempts at LateX, which did not work there. I'm just leaving that as is, I can't take time to labor over perfecting my handle on this LateX interpreter.

>

Ian, thanks for your thoughts. I'm not sure how to respond re mixing of wave particle metaphors. We already know that Nature expresses both traits. The DI interpretation tries to get "mixtures" out of wavefunctions via a sort of circular argument, as I noted. Remember, I am first trying to "get inside" their argument, then criticize it as being inconsistent. The whole point is, their argument is not really "coherent" (pun intended!)

As for the statistics: the source is a "photon gun" that shoots one at a time, coherence time much less than shot interval (hence presumably "Fock states.") They do not interact with each other, this is not about bunching/anti-bunching etc. Maybe best said, I expect the type of photons to be used here, that usually are to make such points. Hence the statistics of detector hits should be from the amplitudes squared, basically binomial (for each channel individually, since of course the other channel must be "no" if the first is "yes") (like coin tosses (generalized chance per head or tail of course) with definite clear tries) and not Poisson types.

I am definitely arguing against the DI in terms of statistics, but more than that (the falsely framed argument, but also that the experiment would show continued full superpositions coming out of BS2 after the decoherence, not "a mixture.") We know what statistics to expect for various phase differences, it's as given by the formula I = A^{2} + B^{2} + 2AB cos $\theta$, where I is "intensity" equivalent to hit frequency. (I saw the above examples, but I'm putting up old fashioned LateX commands in protest, or what am I missing?) But the key point is the claim about how "amplitudes" turn into any kind of "statistics" at all ...

BTW, I sure would like to be a FQXi member ...

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Chris Kennedy wrote on Mar. 5, 2011 @ 19:43 GMT
Neil,

Great essay. I did read your discussion on this blog too about not getting into Bohm's theory. In my essay I propose a test to see if an electron in flight in a double slit experiment is in fact a wave or remains a particle and rides the pilot wave. If Bohm is correct, the electron could start anywhere on the wave front as it goes through one of the slits - including a spot that is destined for destructive interference. Since the electron wont disappear, it would have to jump to a different location to make it to the detector on the other side. This behavior may produce a different expected distribution of electrons than the distribution produced by a pure wave phenomenon.

Keep up the good work.

Chris

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Author Neil Bates replied on Mar. 6, 2011 @ 01:55 GMT
Chris, thanks for your comment. I will study your full essay when I have more time. I do have a first impression of your electron proposal as presented here: It reminds me of the Afshar experiment (easy to look up), which is a modified double-slit experiment. It sets up a way to show that wave interference occurred (fine wires in way of the dark fringes, so they don't intercept many photons) even though we can later use directional sighting to apparently see from which slit a photon came. I think this means that the detector collapses one of the directional waves, and simply makes "an appearance" of having come exclusively from one slit, rather than a retrodiction showing "which way the photon came" all along. Hence we really can have apparent which-way information, and still show the interference, as Afshar claims is being done (even though I'm not aware of him using my framing of the issue.)

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Author Neil Bates wrote on Mar. 6, 2011 @ 02:05 GMT
Note: in haste, writing about the density matrix, I referred to if being an example of fallacious thinking. In and of itself, it is not and is useful in practice. However, the DM is sometimes employed in a fallacious way to argue why or how we don't see macroscopic superpositions. This happens when the presenter fails to appreciate the circular argument constituted by the squared modulus rule being already introduced into the mathematical structure, but itself without explanation or justification of when in the course of time, the modulus ("amplitude" in common usage) reduces to statistical results.

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Sridattadev wrote on Mar. 7, 2011 @ 19:53 GMT
Dear Neil,

Wisdom is more important than imagination is more important than knowledge for all the we know is just an imagination chosen wisely.

Please read Theory of everything at your convenience posted by me in this contest.

Who am I? I am virtual reality, I is absolute truth.

Love,

Sridattadev.

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Belinda. wrote on Mar. 9, 2011 @ 06:36 GMT
"3A is b2 and at 3B is a2... still a superposition and not a mixture..."

Your dedication to the subject of many worlds and "DI" is challenging the way we interpret the underlying changes of this exsistance, maybe even the notion of a Sixth sense? Your dream, for me, was a hint to the illusive behaviour of the untouchable realm.

Thank you.

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John Benavides wrote on Mar. 9, 2011 @ 08:22 GMT
Dear Neil,

I read with great interest your essay, your ideas are very interesting. The fact if decoherence resolves the measurement problem it is something that have not reach a conclusive solution, your ideas clarify some of my doubts. On the other hand I don't agree with your position that we have to admit that our capacity of understanding is limited. The limits are in the models we use to understand reality, particularly the limitation of our models nowadays resides mainly on the fact that our models are based on classical logic. On my essay I try to explain how changing our logic, we can find new explanations to the measurement problem and other phenomena. I would like to hear your comments.

Regards,

J. Benavides

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ben b. wrote on Mar. 10, 2011 @ 19:23 GMT
The information per the theory of this article was very concise in my opinion. I have studied these theories for many years and I agree with most of the theories of this hypothesis. Yet, the technical applications seem to be incomprehensible to most that may read this. The entire concept seems very feasible. I myself agree with most everything inclusive in this essay.

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Author Neil Bates replied on Mar. 13, 2011 @ 22:27 GMT
Ben, thanks for commenting. I think some readers will be confused by the idea of theories being part of a hypothesis, but I see that makes sense in this context. The theories I use are the existing elements and original perspectives of quantum mechanics, which inform my hypothesis that decoherence does not produce the effects claimed by adherents of the decoherence interpretation of why collapse "seems to occur" in the macroscopic regime. BTW I note for any readers, I did not introduce novel concepts. I just applied existing ones in a creative way to test an idea that many may have been considered not directly falsifiable (compare to Bell inequalities.)

Thanks for hat tip on being concise with the theory end. I do admit that the average layman, even an informed one, may have trouble following my description of the workings of the experimental tests. I have to explain how the output statistics follow from the superposed quantum states, and I don't think there's a simple, breezy popularized way to make the exact point. Here's what writers of these Essays face as a challenge: unlike most popularizers, we are presenting (mostly) novel arguments, not just explanations of existing science. Yet we are asked to aim for a wide readership. Fine, I did my best to straddle those conflicting requirements (as well as follow the size limit, and I could well have used a few thousand extra characters.) It does make for some "engineering trade-offs" in the product.

Feasible: indeed, very easy to do TE2 and not that hard to do TE3. I hope someone will follow through (I don't have wherewithal to do so.)

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Janko Kokosar wrote on Mar. 11, 2011 @ 20:50 GMT
Dear Neil Bates

You opened important topic about decoherence. I suggest you that you use also Feynman's book "QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter". I think that think will be still clearer.

About computability of quantum randomness - in this contest it is also Zenil's essay: http://www.fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/867

Here is also Zeilinger objective randomness. The both claims similarly as you.

But in essay from year ago I claimed a little differently:

http://www.fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/571

I was too late for contest of this year. Here is my essay, which is not published here:

http://vixra.org/pdf/1103.0025v1.pdf

Regards.

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basudeba wrote on Mar. 14, 2011 @ 01:00 GMT
Dear Sir,

We have gone through your excellent article. While agreeing with your views, we think that there could be simpler explanations of the phenomenon.

We agree that: “Attempts at understanding should not be fallacious or driven by desperation to make the world conform to our prejudices or convenience”. But unfortunately, there is a rush for recognition that makes increasing...

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Ann Catherine Braxton wrote on Mar. 15, 2011 @ 18:25 GMT
Dear Mr. Bates, Your essay is a most impressive argument about coherence, a must-read for the math, science, and engineering community. The

dream ending is priceless. It is rare to find classic literary writing in the

work of a scientist.

Sincerely, A.C. Braxton

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basudeba wrote on Mar. 20, 2011 @ 06:14 GMT
Sub: Possibility of manipulation in judging criteria – suggestions for improvement.

Sir,

We had filed a complaint to FQXi and Scienticfic American regarding Possibility of manipulation in judging criteria and giving some suggestions for improvement. Acopy of our letter is enclosed for your kind information.

“We are a non-professional and non-academic entrant to the Essay...

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Ulla Mattfolk wrote on May. 2, 2011 @ 15:29 GMT
Hi.

I see now first that you have the same topic as me, decoherence and coherence. I will study the essay with interest.

Have you any idea why the maths are different? I have also some solution to that.

http://www.fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/938

Ulla.

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