science = determinism? (Schrodinger: algorithm or phenomena?)

Tim Shoppa shoppa at trailing-edge.com
Fri Nov 26 12:01:33 EST 1999


Clayton Weaver wrote:
> 
> I was reading Chaitin's paper on computational complexity and wondering
> about this in the context of the mentioned probabilistic nature of
> the Schrodinger equation.
> 
> Is this not merely curve-fitting, an approximation of a chaotic transform
> where we do not know what parameters of the quantum environment may in
> fact determine the behavior that the Shrodinger equation gives us
> probabilities for?

I think what you're asking is "Are there inner mechanics of the
particle/phenomena that we don't understand yet, and these
give rise to our probabilistic model?"  This is called a "hidden
variable" hypothesis, and has been the subject of much research.
"Hidden variables" are actually ruled out in many phenomena because we
can do an EPR-type experiment on the phenomena where two particles
are perfectly correlated despite being separated by such a distance
that there's no way for the "hidden variables" in one to have affected
the "hidden variables" in the other without exceeding the speed of
light.

If you want to know more about EPR-type experiments, do a web
search for "spooky action at a distance".  Yep, that's a key
phrase in this business.  You have to be careful with the language
used, as when one chooses words to map the mathematics to
perceived reality, the words inevitably show the bias of the
speaker :-).

> Is it really valid to attribute to the phenomena itself
> a non-deterministic attribute of the mathematics we have applied to it?

Where to draw the dividing line between "math" and "reality" is
indeed difficult.  Are "waves" reality?  I think so.  Are "photons"
reality?  I think so too, I've watched individual pulses coming
out of photomultiplier tubes.  Are "phonons" reality?  Maybe to
a condensed matter physicist who understands them, but *I* don't
think so :-).

Tim.




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