Foundations of Quantum Mechanics

Mike Towler
Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge

Fundamentally, what is quantum mechanics actually about? Nobody knows. But a great many people have a variety of mutually incompatible ideas, and what would seem to be the most sensible ideas are routinely disparaged in favour of a sort of mysticism. What a curious situation!

As I get older, I inevitably become more drawn to questions of this kind, and in an attempt to get up to the speed with the latest ideas I will be giving an eight-lecture graduate course on the subject (biased towards my favourite approach) entitled 'Pilot waves, Bohmian metaphysics, and the foundations of quantum mechanics'. Begins January 2009. The course web site is here.

Useful links

Pilot wave theory

Quite clearly the best way of looking at things(!), and currently undergoing a major resurgence.
  • article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (S. Goldstein).
  • article - by Berndl, Daumer, Durr, Goldstein and Zanghi

The transactional interpretation

An unusual approach in which the phenomenon of non-locality becomes instantly and directly comprehensible, and which used to be my favourite is the transactional interpretation of John Cramer of the University of Washington. The complete text of the original article on the subject can be found here. The text of an email sent to us by Professor Cramer (whilst my colleague Matt Probert and I were preparing to give a talk on this subject) in which he attempts to explain the somewhat underwhelming level of critical attention paid to this work, may be found here or, as translated into 'jive' by the Dialectizer, possibly here.

The many worlds interpretation

Decoherent histories approach

Copenhagen interpretation

Bell's Theorem

The 'Ithaca Interpretation' (Thoughts of N.D. Mermin)

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