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January 21, 2013

Foundations of Quantum Mechanics Still Not Definite 90 Years Later

“God does not play dice with the universe.” You are probably familiar with that statement by Albert Einstein, the great physicist. However, if you are as passionate about quantum mechanics as I am, you will also be familiar with the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics by Niels Bohr, a contemporary version of Albert Einstein who had differing views on the nature of particles.

Ninety years after the theory of quantum mechanics was born, scientists are still hard on their toes to come up with a unified theory on the basic principles of quantum mechanics. There is still no consensus on the foundational building blocks of a theory expected to change the way we perceive the world, and closer to home, the theory that will see us make a “quantum leap” in computing to using quantum computers.

One of the basic arguments that experts are still split on is over the question, “Do you believe physical objects have their properties well defined prior to and independent of measurement?” The question had varied answers, with 52 percent saying, “Yes, in some cases,” 48 percent saying responding “No” while three percent said “Yes, in all cases.”

The split over the state of particles that started with Bohr and Einstein is likely not going to be resolved anytime soon. While 42 percent of experts prefer the Copenhagen interpretation that particles don’t exist in a particular place at a particular time but float in a haze of probability, 64 percent of experts polled said Einstein’s theory is wrong. Einstein believed the universe is deterministic and that a particle is completely determined by its prior states and that all effects have causes.

How long will these differing views last? Again, of those polled, 48 percent believe that quantum foundations will still not have been laid 50 years from now while 15 percent say quantum conferences to determine these basic truths will continue to take place. Twenty-four percent were unsure and an enterprising 12 percent said they will organize one conference no matter what 50 years from now.

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Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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