Download this **PDF **book: Foundations of Quantum Mechanics (Elements in the Philosophy of Physics) by Emily Adlam

Quantum mechanics is an extraordinarily successful scientific theory. But more than 100 years after it was first introduced, the interpretation of the theory remains controversial.

This Element introduces some of the most puzzling questions at the foundations of quantum mechanics and provides an up-to-date and forward-looking survey of the most prominent ways in which physicists and philosophers of physics have attempted to resolve them. Topics covered include nonlocality, contextuality, the reality of the wavefunction and the measurement problem.

The discussion is supplemented with descriptions of some of the most important mathematical results from recent work in quantum foundations, including Bell's theorem, the Kochen-Specker theorem and the PBR theorem.

One of the most important goals of physics is to come up with theories which successfully predict observable physical phenomena. But even when a theory is successful in the empirical sense, there remain many questions to be answered.

What, if anything, does a successful predictive algorithm tell us about the way the world is? What ontology does the theory suggest? How does the theory relate to other successful physical theories? How does it relate to our own experiences?

What does the theory tell us about familiar concepts like space, time, and matter? In attempting to answer these questions, we are engaging in what is known as foundations of physics.

Quantum foundations is the branch of foundations of physics that relates to quantum mechanics, the physical theory developed in the early twentieth century which applies to phenomena at very small scales. While there are certainly interesting foundational problems to be addressed for all of our major physical theories,1 quantum foundations has attracted an unusual amount of attention because there seems to be something uniquely puzzling about quantum mechanics.

Most famously, there exists no consensus about the physical interpretation of the predictive algorithm that quantum mechanics gives us, and many of the alternatives under consideration paint a picture of a physical world which is radically different from the classical world of our pre-quantum imaginings.

Although there is a significant intersection between foundational questions and the traditional domain of philosophy, quantum foundations is distinct from the philosophy of quantum mechanics in that the two fields typically involve different methodological approaches. One of the important innovations made by Bell in proving his famous theorem, which we will discuss in Section 3, was that it is possible to address foundational questions in a quantitative way by means of mathematical proof, and subsequently the field of quantum foundations has applied similar quantitative approaches to many other conceptual questions.

It is this mathematical approach which makes quantum foundations a branch of physics rather than philosophy – although of course researchers in quantum foundations have many interests in common with their peers in the philosophy of quantum mechanics, and the field can be understood as sitting at the intersection of physics, maths, and philosophy

## Contents

1 Introduction

2 Preliminaries

3 Bell’s Theorem and Non-locality

4 The Kochen-Specker Theorem and Contextuality

5 The PBR Theorem and the Measurement Problem

6 Further Topics in Quantum Foundations

7 The Future of Quantum Foundations

## Book Description

This Element introduces the most puzzling questions at the foundations of quantum mechanics and surveys how physicists and philosophers of physics have attempted to resolve them.

## About the book:

Publisher : Cambridge University Press

Language : English

Pages : 84

File : **PDF**, 16MB

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