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Old Feb 18, 2011, 12:25pm   #11
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Originally Posted by killcrazy View Post
there are no random processes, merely processes whose mechanism is not or cannot be understood.

i reject the copenhagen interpretion. it is given far more credence than is merited, being little more than a kludgy placeholder theory until we figure out what is actually happening.

Kc
I would agree that it doesn't "feel" like it can possibly be the right theory and yet the results of using it work so well. Its intepretation of the wave function provides very compelling predictions of measurements. Still some consequences that arise from the random aspects of the theory are unsettling, even though they are experimentally verifiable.
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Old Feb 18, 2011, 2:10pm   #12
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I would agree that it doesn't "feel" like it can possibly be the right theory
it's not really a matter of "feel" per se.

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and yet the results of using it work so well.
well, here we disagree. nature is not probabilistic. it merely appears that way because of incomplete information. like cards, or dice, or anything else for which probabilities may be ascribed in the macroscopic universe, probabilities exist only in the gaps between information.

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Still some consequences that arise from the random aspects of the theory are unsettling, even though they are experimentally verifiable.
i'm not sure what you're saying here? example?

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Old Feb 18, 2011, 2:34pm   #13
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i'm not sure what you're saying here? example?
An example would be the double slit experiment with single photons (or electrons) where an interference pattern is still present even though there is only one particle at a time to pass through the sytem. The observation that the particle interferes with itself is hard to internalize, but is well described by the copenhagen intepretation of the wave function.
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Old Feb 18, 2011, 7:33pm   #14
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An example would be the double slit experiment with single photons (or electrons) where an interference pattern is still present even though there is only one particle at a time to pass through the sytem. The observation that the particle interferes with itself is hard to internalize, but is well described by the copenhagen intepretation of the wave function.
ah the blessed double slit experiment.

lets pause and note that scientific theories describe observation of reality, not reality itself. for almost 1500 years our best theory for predicting the movement of the wandering stars was ptolemy's hideous spirograph assemblage. heliocentrism was posited again and again, but nobody could make it work until johannes kepler in 1605, and even kepler's model was imperfect.

i consider copenhagen analogous to ptolemaic geocentrism. it is extremely ugly, it cannot possibly describe reality, but may be the best theory we have, in the sense that while the predictions it makes are limited, they are essentially accurate to the extent we can measure their accuracy.

but its shortcomings are enormous, not least of which being how abhorrently inelegant it is. it irks me that rather than say "well, we don't know, but there is some probabilistic shit that seems to hold true that at least allows us to do this, this and this" we instead are told that "teh universe is probabilistic and consequently we can do this, this and this".

i'm also not a fan of wave-particle duality. how can an ace be one and eleven? only if we all agree that it can be and operate as if this is true. so when it is convenient an ace is 11, but then we hit and get a 6 and suddenly the ace becomes 1 because now 1 is convenient. we can either freely admit that we don't know whats going on yet but we have a functional conceptual model which fulfils our immediate needs, or we can pretend that we have the answer, that the universe suddenly becomes hideously ugly and that aces are in a superposition of 1 and 11.

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Old Feb 18, 2011, 7:47pm   #15
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Agreed mostly, it (and wave-particle duality) is certainly an inelegant theory. However, I think your selling short its predictive capabilities. All of spectroscopy comes from the wave function interpretation as a probabilty for particle positions. Which energy transitions are allowed, how strong light absoprtion will be, and things like which gases are greenhouse gases and to what extent all comes from this math. The agreement between theory and experiment is excellent. The copenhagen intepretation itself (the assumption of what the wave function is) is inelegant, but the rest of the mathematics past this assumption is actually pretty.
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Old Feb 19, 2011, 10:22am   #16
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lets not get carried away here. yes it's predictive, but if i drop hammer it falls to the ground. this is also predictive, but it isn't a complete theory of universal gravitation.

we are rapidly heading into a philosophy of science discussion. the goal of science is to describe reality, but scientific theories describe observation. it takes a long time before those theories come to describe reality because the universe is fucking awesome.

what we have at present is a series of observations of the form, "if i put pigs in, sausages come out, but if i put chickens in, the machine gets clogged with feathers". we are still at this stage even after so many years. just look at the LHC, our most important experiments are still just smashing shit together as hard as we can to see what comes out, and every time we get some new shit (or fail to) we can revise the theory a little bit.

the quantum mechanics paradigm shift reminds me of the phoney war. everyone knows its coming, but we've been waiting for a while now. it seems unlikely that we will have another einstein/newton style holy fucking shit moment where one guy solves our provincial understanding of everything. we will keep fiddling with the theory until we run out of ways to adjust it and then look back through the centuries and say "hmm, i guess bohm/witten/whoever was right".

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Old Feb 22, 2011, 2:33pm   #17
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"The Big Bang Theory" has really gone downhill in its 3rd season. *Yawn* Change the channel already.
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