Undecidability and the problem of outcomes in quantum measurements

Foundations of Physics:93-115 (forthcoming)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

We argue that it is fundamentally impossible to recover information about quantum superpositions when a quantum system has interacted with a sufficiently large number of degrees of freedom of the environment. This is due to the fact that gravity imposes fundamental limitations on how accurate measurements can be. This leads to the notion of undecidability: there is no way to tell, due to fundamental limitations, if a quantum system evolved unitarily or suffered wavefunction collapse. This in turn provides a solution to the problem of outcomes in quantum measurement by providing a sharp criterion for defining when an event has taken place. We analyze in detail in examples two situations in which in principle one could recover information about quantum coherence: a) “revivals” of coherence in the interaction of a system with the measurement apparatus and the environment and b) the measurement of global observables of the system plus apparatus plus environment. We show in the examples that the fundamental limitations due to gravity and quantum mechanics in measurement prevent both revivals from occurring and the measurement of global observables. It can therefore be argued that the emerging picture provides a complete resolution to the measurement problem in quantum mechanics.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,102

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

The Infinite Apparatus in the Quantum Theory of Measurement.Don Robinson - 1990 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1990:251-261.
Two dogmas about quantum mechanics.Jeffrey Bub & Itamar Pitowsky - 2007 - In Simon Saunders, Jonathan Barrett, Adrian Kent & David Wallace (eds.), Many Worlds?: Everett, Quantum Theory & Reality. Oxford University Press.
From Micro to Macro: A Solution to the Measurement Problem of Quantum Mechanics.Jeffrey Bub - 1988 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1988:134 - 144.
The Problem of Measurement - Real or Imaginary?Nicholas Maxwell - 1973 - American Journal of Physics 41:1022-5.

Analytics

Added to PP
2009-11-14

Downloads
80 (#195,374)

6 months
7 (#213,770)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Citations of this work

Assessing the Montevideo interpretation of quantum mechanics.Jeremy Butterfield - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 52 (Part A):75-85.
An axiomatic formulation of the Montevideo interpretation of quantum mechanics.Rodolfo Gambini, Luis Pedro García-Pintos & Jorge Pullin - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 42 (4):256-263.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references