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originally posted by: Mousygretchen
a reply to: Reverbs
You know what I mean, what's up with the restaurant? I just want to know that your okay.
leading to a nearly century-long debate on how to interpret the wave function: does it representative objective reality or merely the subjective knowledge of an observer? In a new paper, physicists Roger Colbeck of the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario, and Renato Renner who is based at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, have presented an argument strongly in favor of the objective reality of the wave function
Quantum mechanics has a concept called a "wave function." It's incredibly important because it holds all the measurable information about a particle (or group of particles) within it. In practice, the wave function describes a set of probabilities that change in time. When we make a measurement, we are really poking at the wave function, causing these probabilities to collapse and take on a definite value. The value that the wave function predicts is determined by the relative probabilities of all the possible measurement results.
But physically, the wave function is problematic. It is often possible to figure out the physical meaning of a symbol in an equation by looking at the physical units you would use to measure it. A quick examination of the wave function shows that the units of the wave function don't make a great deal of sense. To avoid a mental hernia, physicists tell each other that the wave function is a useful calculation tool, but only has physical relevance in terms of statistics, rather than having some concrete existence. In other words, it's not really "real."
Until now, we have taken comfort from the idea that, real or not, the results from the wave function would be the same. So no worries, right? Quite possibly wrong. In a paper posted on the arXiv, a trio of researchers has shown that you can't have it both ways; a purely statistical wave function will not always give the same results as a wave function with real physical significance.
That is essentially what Fedrizzi's team tested. The group measured polarization and other features in a beam of photons and found a level of overlap that could not be explained by the ignorance models. [get it?] The results support the alternative view that, if objective reality exists, then the wavefunction is real. [Wave function is all probabilities]“It's really impressive that the team was able to address a profound issue, with what's actually a very simple experiment,” says Andrea Alberti, a physicist at the University of Bonn in Germany.