The great scandal of physics

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Aug 30, 2021, 1:43:43 AMAug 30
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NOT JUST Physics, WHITE FILTH has been SELLING SNAKE OIL in "EVERY
FIELD" for CENTURIES.

Stephen Hawking was PROVED WRONG in 9 out of his 10 theories, but the
ENTIRE WHITE RACE still WORSHIPS him as some kind of GENIUS.


White filth SOLD "String theory" as holy grail for a couple of decades
and then DUMPED IT and MOVED ON.

REALITY "HATES the pathologically LYING, CUNNING DECEPTIVE WHITE FILTH"
to the CORE.

NOT A SINGLE WHITE on this planet LIVES IN REALITY, not a single white.


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https://aurocafe.substack.com/p/the-great-scandal-of-physics?r=92gds&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=email&utm_source=twitter

The great scandal of physics

Featuring Schrödinger’s cat


Ulrich Mohrhoff

Thank you for signing up for Aurocafe, the newsletter about quantum
quandaries, consciousness conundrums, and the spiritual philosophy of
the Upanishads as explained and developed further by Sri Aurobindo. You
will have noticed that these fields are replete with deep issues,
separately and more so where they overlap. Addressing these issues
involves unfamiliar concepts and leads into unaccustomed territory.
While I am trying my level best to make this as painless as possible,
some of these essays will be easier to read than others, and some will
appeal more to certain readers and less to others. Today’s essay may be
a case in point. (But do not miss the ending!) It is not a sign of
things to come!

In The Ashgate Companion to Contemporary Philosophy of Physics,1 David
Wallace introduces the chapter on “Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics” with
the following words:

By some measures, quantum mechanics is the great success story of
modern physics: no other physical theory has come close to the range and
accuracy of its predictions and explanations. By other measures, it is
instead the great scandal of physics: despite these amazing successes,
we have no satisfactory physical theory at all — only an ill-defined
heuristic which makes unacceptable reference to primitives such as
“measurement”, “observer” and even “consciousness”. This is the
measurement problem, and it dominates philosophy of quantum mechanics.

Wallace draws a distinction between (i) a “bare quantum formalism,”
which he describes as “an elegant piece of mathematics” that comes
“prior to any notion of probability, measurement etc.,” and (ii) a
“quantum algorithm,” which he describes as “an ill-defined and
unattractive mess.” And he insists that measurement “is a physical
process, not an unanalyzable primitive.”

It does indeed seem perfectly reasonable to hold that a measurement
involves an interaction between an apparatus and a physical system on
which the measurement is performed. Yet if this interaction is modeled
as a physical process, and if this process is described in
quantum-mechanical terms, what follows is that no measurement ever has
an outcome (which is self-contradictory) or that a measurement involves
something beyond the realm of the physical, something like the
consciousness of an observer (which to most philosophers of science is
worse).

Let’s consider what it means, to most physicists and philosophers of
science, to describe the interaction between a measurement apparatus and
a physical system as a quantum-mechanical process:

|A₀⟩⊗|Ψ⟩ → Σₖ cₖ |Aₖ⟩⊗|qₖ⟩ → |A(q)⟩⊗|q⟩

I will make this as simple as possible (but not simpler). To the left of
the first arrow we have a mathematical operation represented by the
symbol ⊗, which combines |A₀⟩ (a mathematical thingummy said to
represent the apparatus in its neutral state, prior to the measurement
interaction) and |Ψ⟩ (a mathematical thingummy said to represent the
initial state of the quantum system). The first arrow represents the
period of time during which the interaction takes place, and the
expression between the two arrows represents the result of the
interaction. As indicated by the symbol Σₖ, it is a sum of as many terms
as there are possible outcomes. cₖ is a complex number that depends on
|‍‍Ψ⟩. |qₖ⟩ is said to represent the system as having the property qₖ
(one of the possible outcomes), and |Aₖ⟩ is said to represent the
apparatus as indicating that the system has the property qₖ.

Because the interaction results in a sum of as many terms as there are
possible outcomes, the measurement is as yet unfinished. The first stage
of the purported measurement process is therefore known as
pre-measurement. The second arrow represents the transition to a state
in which the system has the property q (one of the possible outcomes)
and the apparatus indicates that this is the case. This stage is known
as objectification, and it is what quantum mechanics cannot explain. For
this reason the measurement problem is also known as “the disaster of
objectification”.2

How, then, is the connection made between the “bare quantum formalism,”
according to which measurements lack definite outcomes, and human
experience, in which measurements have definite outcomes? It is made by
stipulating that the squared magnitude |cₖ|² of cₖ is the probability
with which the measurement yields the experienced outcome qₖ.

Wallace is right that probability cannot emerge from a “bare quantum
formalism” which has no bearing on probability. Probability is the kind
of something that you cannot get from nothing. Precisely for this reason
there is no such thing as a bare quantum formalism “prior to any notion
of probability, measurement etc.” Every single axiom of every
axiomatization of the quantum theory is, and only makes sense as, a
feature of a calculus that serves to assign probabilities to measurement
outcomes and on the basis of measurement outcomes.3

If the expression Σₖ cₖ |Aₖ⟩⊗|qₖ⟩ would actually represent the combined
state of system and apparatus, one would have to admit that the
interpretation of the squared magnitude of cₖ as a probability is
inacceptable and may even be considered scandalous. But what is actually
inacceptable is the set of notions which render the interpretation of
|cₖ|² as a probability inacceptable. Foremost among these are the
notions that |Ψ⟩ and |A₀⟩ represent the respective physical states of
system and apparatus prior to the measurement, that |qₖ⟩ represents the
system as having the property qₖ, and that |Aₖ⟩ represents the apparatus
as indicating this outcome. For it is self-contradictory to interpret
the sum Σₖ cₖ |Aₖ⟩⊗|qₖ⟩ as the combined physical state of system and
apparatus and also to interpret the respective terms |qₖ⟩ and |Aₖ⟩ as
representing the system in possession of the property qₖ and the
apparatus as indicating this outcome. This is exactly the befuddled
thinking which leads to the notorious Schrödinger-cat state

|S-cat⟩ = c₁ |A₁⟩⊗|cat(alive)⟩ + c₂ |A₂⟩⊗|cat(dead)⟩,

where |cat(alive)⟩ is supposed to represents the cat as being alive and
|A₁⟩ is supposed to represents the apparatus as signaling this fact —
and ditto for |cat(dead)⟩ and |A₂⟩ — even as the sum of the two terms
then represents the cat as being neither dead nor alive (or both dead
and alive).

Here is the scenario as originally thought up by Schrödinger4:

One can even set up quite ridiculous cases. A cat is penned up in a
steel chamber, along with the following diabolical device (which must be
secured against direct interference by the cat): in a Geiger counter
there is a tiny bit of radioactive substance, so small, that perhaps in
the course of one hour one of the atoms decays, but also, with equal
probability, perhaps none; if it happens, the counter tube discharges
and through a relay releases a hammer which shatters a small flask of
hydrocyanic acid. If one has left this entire system to itself for an
hour, one would say that the cat still lives if meanwhile no atom has
decayed. The first atomic decay would have poisoned it. The ψ-function
of the entire system would express this by having in it the living and
the dead cat (pardon the expression) mixed or smeared out in equal
parts. It is typical of these cases that an indeterminacy originally
restricted to the atomic domain becomes transformed into macroscopic
indeterminacy, which can then be resolved by direct observation.

The fact of the matter is that the symbol |x⟩ denotes a vector in a
certain mathematical space. While by itself it bears no relation to
either physical reality or human experience, it is often used (and
should in fact only be used) as a convenient shorthand for another
mathematical animal, which is designated by the symbol |x⟩⟨x|. This
represents a measurement outcome — either that to which a probability is
assigned or that on the basis of which probabilities are assigned.

Probabilities are calculated as outputs of a mathematical machine T,
which has two input slots. The first slot is for the outcome on the
basis of which probabilities are assigned, the second slot is for the
outcome to which a probability is assigned. Thus if |A₁⟩⟨A₁| is inserted
into the first slot, T serves to assign probabilities to the possible
outcomes of another measurement B, based on the information provided by
|A₁⟩⟨A₁|, which is that the cat is alive. If |A₁⟩⟨A₁| is inserted into
the second slot, T serves to assign a probability to finding (by means
of another measurement B) that measurement A indicates that the cat is
alive, conditional on whatever measurement outcome is fed into the first
slot.

Share Aurocafe

From quantum theory’s early days, the goal of making physical sense of
the theory’s mathematical formalism has been pursued along two
apparently divergent lines, one fundamentally philosophical, the other
essentially mathematical; one spearheaded by Niels Bohr, the other set
in motion by the mathematician, physicist, and computer scientist John
von Neumann.

When Bohr wrote5 that “the physical content of quantum mechanics is
exhausted by its power to formulate statistical laws governing
observations obtained under conditions specified in plain language,”
most people took him to advocate a naïve realistic view of measuring
instruments and other macroscopic objects. What he was actually trying
to defend was an essentially Kantian stance. To him, the events which
quantum mechanics correlates statistically were experiences capable of
objectivation,6 which requires communication in terms that everybody can
understand. (His insistence on the use of plain language would make no
sense if he were merely advocating a metaphysically sterile
instrumentalism.)

As regards von Neumann, it is well known that the mathematical formalism
of quantum mechanics was worked out by him in a systematic and
mathematically precise way and summed up in his celebrated 1932 book.7
Many published discussions of interpretive issues in quantum mechanics
present von Neumann as viewing the “quantum state” |Ψ⟩ as a
representation of a physical state that is capable of changing
(“evolving”) in two distinct ways: continuously between measurements (as
also during the so-called pre-measurement stage); and discontinuously at
the objectification stage, when a measurement is completed and the
system’s state is said to “collapse.”

It is much less well known that, soon after the publication of his book,
von Neumann rejected in favor of |Ψ⟩⟨Ψ| the central role he had assigned
to |Ψ⟩. While, mathematically speaking, |Ψ⟩ is a vector in some vector
space V, |Ψ⟩⟨Ψ| is an operator that projects vectors into a subspace of
V. Von Neumann thus abandoned the notion of a physical state with two
distinct modes of change, and instead espoused as the physically
relevant core of quantum mechanics the conditional probabilities defined
by the “trace operator” T with its two input slots for projection
operators.8

While both Bohr and von Neumann (after the publication of his book) thus
were on convergent tracks, too many physicists and philosophers of
science today see the issue of interpreting quantum mechanics as a
choice between a view that Bohr never held (instrumentalism) and a view
that von Neumann soon abandoned (quantum state realism).

There are actually two measurement problems. One, sometimes called the
“big” measurement problem, is the problem of explaining how measurement
outcomes come about “dynamically,” i.e., as a result of a single
continuous mode of change, without invoking a second, discontinuous mode
of change. This problem arises from the false premise that |Ψ⟩
represents a physical state, and that its dependence on time is the
continuous time dependence of a physical state.

While the passage of time between the first measurement (on the basis of
whose outcome probabilities are assigned) and the second measurement (to
the possible outcomes of which probabilities are assigned) is taken care
of by an operator that depends on the respective times of the two
measurements, this operator does not represent a physical process that
brings about a physical change. Any story purporting to relate what
happens between the two measurements is (in Wolfgang Pauli’s felicitous
phrase) “not even wrong,” inasmuch as it can be neither proved nor
disproved.

“Observations,” as Schrödinger wrote, “are to be regarded as discrete,
disconnected events. Between them there are gaps which we cannot fill
in.” The reason we cannot fill in these gaps is that the concepts at our
disposal — in particular: position and momentum, time and energy,
causality and interaction — owe their meanings in large part to the
spatiotemporal structure of human sensory experience, and are therefore
unlikely to be applicable to what is inaccessible to human sensory
experience. While measurement outcomes and the experimental conditions
under which they are obtained are directly accessible to human sensory
experience, what happens between measurements is not, and therefore
cannot be expected to be expressible with the concepts at our disposal.

The second measurement problem, sometimes referred to as the “small”
one, is the question why certain projection operators |x⟩⟨x| (or the
subspaces into which they project) represent possible measurement
outcomes, while others do not.

The reason we never experience a measurement pointer as simultaneously
pointing in two different directions is that measurement outcomes are
experiences, and experiences conform to Kant’s principle of
thoroughgoing determination. Assuming that every thing was accessible to
direct sensory experience, Kant9 concluded that

every thing, as to its possibility, stands under the principle of
thoroughgoing determination, according to which, among all possible
predicates of things, insofar as they are compared with their opposites,
one must apply to it.

Because Kant’s principle applies to everything that is accessible to
sensory experience, it applies to every outcome-indicating property, and
therefore it implies the definiteness of every measurement outcome.

As long as the cat is directly accessible to sensory experience, it can
serve as a measurement pointer: if after an hour the cat is alive, it
indicates that as yet no atom has decayed, and if after an hour the cat
is dead, it indicates that at least one atom has decayed. Is it possible
to make the cat inaccessible to direct sensory experience by, say,
penning it up in a steel chamber? Suppose that it is. While we are then
ignorant of the state of the cat (alive or dead), we are by no means
cognizant of the cat’s being neither dead nor alive. To be cognizant of
such a state, we must have evidence that such a state obtains. Is it
possible to have such evidence?

Let’s start with the simplest possible situation. It is perfectly
feasible to prepare a particle in such a way that its spin, if measured
with respect to the vertical axis, is certain to be found up, and that
its spin is equally likely to be found up or down if measured with
respect to a horizontal axis. In this case, finding the spin up with
respect to the vertical axis implies that the spin is neither up nor
down with respect to any horizontal axis. It is also possible (if
technically more challenging) to perform an experiment that has a
possible outcome which implies that neither of the following is the
case: no atom has decayed and at least one atom has decayed. And it
would also be possible to obtain evidence that the cat is neither alive
nor dead if it were possible to perform an experiment that has a
possible outcome which implies that the cat is neither alive nor dead.

Let us furthermore take into account that the properties of quantum
systems are contextual:10 they are defined by the experimental
conditions under which they are observed, and they only exist if their
presence is indicated. Since presently we are treating the cat as a
quantum system, we need to ask: is it possible to conceive of
experimental conditions that define a property whose existence would, if
indicated, imply that the cat is neither alive nor dead?

Let’s take the craziness a step further. If such experimental conditions
could be created, it would be possible to transform a living cat into
one which is neither dead not alive. It would then also be possible to
transform a dead cat into one which is neither dead nor alive. And it
would then be possible to determine, by a subsequent measurement,
whether the cat is dead or alive, and it would be possible to find that
the cat is alive. In other words, it would be possible to resurrect a
dead cat. I am not making this up. Luigi Picasso, for one, writes in his
Lectures in Quantum Mechanics (Springer, 2016, p. 341) that “tomorrow,
when the observables that today do not exist will become available, we
will be able, by means of two measurements, to resurrect dead cats...”

Mkt

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Aug 30, 2021, 9:35:03 AMAug 30
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