OUR RESEARCH VISION
Classical mechanics assumes our sense experiences correspond directly to reality at the everyday or macroscopic level. But quantum mechanics, if it is taken as a true description of an individual system, not just a tool for yielding predictions about ensembles, entails that the reality is different from our observation at the macroscopic level. This is the famous “cat paradox”.
Although there have been many attempts to give an ontological interpretation of the single system in quantum theory – such as the collapse interpretation, pilot-wave, many-paths, many-worlds, decoherence, etc. – none of these interpretations have won universal acceptance. All of them are compatible with quantum mechanics, yet none is entailed by it. This is because all of them reproduce the statistical predictions of current quantum theory, but none offer verifiably new predictions that current quantum mechanics itself cannot make. As a result, the ontologies of these various interpretations remain metaphysical. In addition, none of the interpretations give a space-time visualization of quantum reality that makes us feel that quantum reality is now “understood” in the everyday sense of the word. The solutions offered are generally more bizarre than the problems (such as wave-particle duality or the measurement problem) that they set out to solve.
At InSIST, under the vision of its director, a fundamentally different approach from extant interpretations is being developed. The central idea is this: the Schrodinger equation, which is at the center of quantum theory, predicts (due to its linearity) that objects will be in a state of superposition. If quantum theory is our fundamental theory, then it should apply in principle to the micro, meso, macro and cosmic scales. Since all our observations at the other scales have to be necessarily at the macroscopic level, let us examine the implications of the Schrodinger equation at the macroscopic level first.
At the macro level, this means that we must see pointer states that are “superposed”. If we observe only classically determinate states for the pointers, it means either the Schrodinger equation is empirically disconfirmed, or there must be another, quantum-compatible way of interpreting our observations in the macro world.
Currently, quantum mechanics (QM) accepts neither of the above conclusions. Instead, it links the superposed states that the Schrodinger equation predicts, to classically determinate states of measuring devices via a probabilistic interpretation (Born’s rule). This approach has turned out to be immensely pragmatically useful – from the light bulb, chemistry of hand-washing soap, garage door openers, cell phones, medical instruments and so on – the entire gamut of electronics is all based on quantum mechanics. Indeed, it has been assessed that one-third of the entire GNP of USA ($9 trillion) is produced by QM-based technologies.
Yet, this quasi-classical QM has also produced immense conceptual difficulties for getting at the physical reality underlying the quantum wave function (evolving as per the Schrodinger equation) at the single system level. QM operates satisfactorily only at the level of statistical predictions for an ensemble of quantum systems.
At InSIST, the approach is to conceive an alternate way of interpreting the observations at the macroscopic level in a way that is compatible with the requirement of quantum superposition, in such a way that the superposition never goes away. This way of interpreting the observations would be complementary to the current classical way of interpreting the observations. Such an approach would obviate the need for invoking the Born’s rule (which counts the classically-determinate pointer states). It will thus also avoid the need for the so-called von Neumann Process-2 – the sudden, stochastic and irreversible change of the wave function at the point of an undefined “measurement”. Thus, our approach will also dissolve the famed measurement problem.
We expect our approach to lead to a new macroscopic quantum mechanics (MQM), by enabling the Schrodinger equation to apply directly to the macro regime, logically independent of the current quantum mechanics which is applied to the micro regime, assuming the macro regime to be classical. Our proposed MQM will be complementary, not only to the current microscopic QM (mQM), but also to the existing classical mechanics of the macro regime. Thus, it will have important ramifications for current attempts to unify quantum mechanics and the general theory of relativity.
In addition, because physics is the most fundamental of all sciences, our approach to MQM will also have implications for all other fields in science and engineering. Indeed, at InSIST, we already have research projects underway in chemistry (on the implications of MQM to the periodic table), biology (on an alternative approach to biological information), computer science, and so on. These projects also are briefly described on other pages of this web site.
Another important feature of our approach to MQM is our entirely original, and novel idea of an ontology for matter called Objective Semantic Information (OSI).
We will be posting more descriptive material about our approach to MQM on a regular basis.