New Theory Claims Quantum Weirdness Only Exists in Our Imaginations

Tuesday, 01 December 2015 - 10:40AM
Weird Science
Tuesday, 01 December 2015 - 10:40AM
New Theory Claims Quantum Weirdness Only Exists in Our Imaginations
Scientists just came up with the quantum version of the Matrix argument. According to a new theory in theoretical physics, quantum information doesn't have any objective existence, but rather is purely a function of our own minds.

Quantum mechanics satisfactorily explains many of the mysteries of our universe, but also yields many paradoxes. When the wave function, which is key to quantum theory, is treated as real, particles can be in two places at once, information can travel faster than the speed of light (which is impossible according to general relativity), and Schrodinger's cat is both dead and alive. But according to Quantum Bayesianism ("QBism" for short), which was first theorized in 2001 but has gained prominence only in the last few years, the wave function is not real, but a state of mind that determines how we interpret quantum systems.

As explained in a new paper in Nature, this theory contends that the wave function is sort of a subjective filter, a paradigm through which an observer sees a quantum system.

Opening quote
QBism maintains that the wave function is solely a mathematical tool that an observer uses to assign his or her personal belief that a quantum system will have a specific property," writes author Hans Christian von Baeyer. "In this conception, the wave function does not exist in the world-rather it merely reflects an individual's subjective mental state.
Closing quote

To be clear, QBism isn't asserting that nothing in the world is real, as the quantum systems themselves still exist. But there is a split between the real world and the world of the observer, and quantum information is a function of our imaginations. The wave function isn't a part of the physical world, but a descriptor of a person's subjective experience of the world.

Although this may sound completely out-there, it's no more bizarre than quantum theory itself, and it resolves many of the paradoxes associated with quantum mechanics very neatly. When the wave function is treated as imaginary, the new equations for calculating probability within quantum systems are much simpler, and are actually nearly the same as classical probability. As a result, the wave function "may well be the most powerful abstraction we have ever found," said N. David Mermin, a theoretical physicist at Cornell University and a recent convert to QBism.

According to Christopher A. Fuchs, one of the co-authors of the original theory, claims that QBism speaks to the ability of every person to shape the universe:

Opening quote
"With every measurement set by an experimenter's free will, the world is shaped just a little as it participates in a kind of moment of birth."
Closing quote


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