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

Tim Shoppa shoppa at trailing-edge.com
Fri Nov 26 12:07:59 EST 1999

Tim Bradshaw wrote:
> * Clayton Weaver wrote:
> > 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? Is it really valid to attribute to the phenomena itself
> > a non-deterministic attribute of the mathematics we have applied to it?
> You can look at the nature of any possible parameters which determine
> the result -- these are usually called `hidden variables' -- and one
> of the outcomes is that these things must be non-local.  So if these
> hidden variables could ever be detected then they would be
> causality-violating, if you believe special relativity.  This is
> usually taken to rule out such hidden variables.

If you want to be purely pedantic, the experiments only rule
out hidden variables in the systems that are tested in the
experiment.  So if I do an EPR experiment with correlated photons
and prove there aren't any hidden variables there, this doesn't
necessarily say anything about, for example, hidden variables in
the decay of radioactive nuclei.

But since the same broad-ranging theory describes both those
photons and radioactive nuclei, it is very tempting and attractive
to say that hidden variables are ruled out for radioactive nuclei.
In this case I'd say they're right.  Certainly EPR-type experiments
are hard enough to do convincingly in the easy cases, I'm not
going to insist that a similarly strenuous experimental test is
used for every application of quantum theory.


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