For those who followed the long debate about quantum mechanics and the paradigm shift from Newtonianism to the post-Einstein world of physics that I proposed in Part 4 of my opening lit theory lecture, I’d like to recommend David Lindley’s book on QM and on the emergence of “decoherence” as the current standard interpretation. (That discussion follows Part 4 under Pages.)
Lindley seems (to me) to line up precisely with what Gavin tried to explain to us more recently, about why decoherence is “in” and David Bohm’s hidden variables theory is “out.” He explains the history of QM and the Copenhagen interpretation in its original form (Niels Bohr) and in its current form, updated with decoherence. I now understand why working physicists don’t expect a deeper underlying theory to emerge here to account for the seeming anomalies of QM. I see how and why these QM problems aren’t like the late 19th-century “anomalies” that led to Planck’s constant and a whole new theory (special relativity). So this helps me with Roger Penrose too.
I will try to post some excerpts here, because, as Gavin struggled valiantly to do, Lindley responds to the more philosophical questions we all have about QM and in the process manages to account for the working QM physicist’s disquiet with the way that we “innumerate humanists” seem to be running away with QM implications in half-baked ways….
Lindley is not argumentative or polemical and his accounts are amazingly readable. He manages to be explanatory on a high level in a manner graspable by the reader who is not up to all of the intricate mathematics. Most of all, he fills in for us with perspectives and outlooks that speak to the inevitable philosophical questions that humanists and theists will have.
For instance, I now understand that Niels Bohr did seem to suggest a certain mysticism about QM “measurement” (as I thought I had learned 15 years ago) but that it is no longer applicable today, because quantum decoherence expands “measurement” to being a constant natural process in the physical world.
I think everyone should read this book (instead of those Stanford Philosophical articles so dissed by Gavin!) Thanks to Jennifer for this recommendation!