The mind-body problem is reviewed in the context of a non-technical account of quantum theory. The importance of clearly defining: `what is physical?’ is highlighted, since only then can we give meaning to the concept `non-physical’. Physicality is defined in terms of interaction, which is in turn defined to be a correlated exchange of information. This is asserted to be the basis of any meaningful concept of epistemology. Hence, it is argued that a non-physical entity can not `know’ anything about the world. Information transfer is then discussed in terms of quantum entanglement and an argument for our perception of time is presented. It is then contended that the notion of `mind’ may be meaningfully discussed in the context of a quantum theoretic framework.

]]>In a recent series of papers and lectures, John Conway and Simon Kochen presented The Free Will Theorem. “It asserts, roughly, that if indeed we humans have free will, then elementary particles already have their own small share of this valuable commodity.” Perhaps the primary motivation of their papers was to place stringent constraints on quantum mechanical hidden variable theories, which they indeed do. Nevertheless, the notion of free will is crucial to the proof and they even speculate that the free will afforded to elementary particles is the ultimate explanation of our own free will. I don’t challenge the mathematics/logic of their proof but rather their premises. Free will and determinism are, for me, not nearly adequately clarified for them to form the bases of a theoretical proof. In addition, they take for granted supplemental concepts in quantum mechanics that are in need of further explanation. It’s also not clear to me what utility is afforded by the free will theorem, i.e., what, if anything, follows from it. Despite the cheeky subtitle of my essay, I do think that the explicit introduction of free will into discussions of hidden variables and other interpretations of quantum mechanics might help expose foibles in many of those deliberations. For this reason, I consider the Conway-Kochen free will theorem to be a positive contribution to the philosophy of quantum mechanics.

]]>This short article concentrates on the conceptual aspects of the violation of Bell inequalities, and acts as a map to the 265 cited references. The article outlines (a) relevant characteristics of quantum mechanics, such as statistical balance and entanglement, (b) the thinking that led to the derivation of the original Bell inequality, and (c) the range of claimed implications, including realism, locality and others which attract less attention. The main conclusion is that violation of Bell inequalities appears to have some implications for the nature of physical reality, but that none of these are definite. The violations constrain possible prequantum (underlying) theories, but do not rule out the possibility that such theories might reconcile at least one understanding of locality and realism to quantum mechanical predictions. Violation might reflect, at least partly, failure to acknowledge the contextuality of quantum mechanics, or that data from different probability spaces have been inappropriately combined. Many claims that there are definite implications reflect one or more of (i) imprecise non-mathematical language, (ii) assumptions inappropriate in quantum mechanics, (iii) inadequate treatment of measurement statistics and (iv) underlying philosophical assumptions.

]]>It is possible to construct a classical, macroscopic system which has a mathematical structure that is exactly the same as that of a quantum mechanical system and which can be put into a state which has exactly the same probability predictions as a quantum mechanical with entanglement. This paper presents a simple example, including a way in which the system can be measured to violate Bell’s inequalities. This classical simulation of a quantum system helps us to see what aspects of quantum mechanical systems are truly nonclassical.

]]>I comment briefly on derivations of the Born rule presented by Masanes et al. and by Hossenfelder.

]]>This is a reply to Silberstein’s review of my book “Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution”.

]]>We present a simple and rigorous derivation of the free wave equations such as the Klein-Gordon equation based on spacetime translation invariance and relativistic invariance. The new analysis may help underdstand the physical origin and significance of the laws of motion in quantum mechanics.

]]>We give an argument for the “inexistence” of the interior of Schwarzschild black holes and for the corresponding interpretation of the event horizon as an edge of space-time. In order to do that, we interpret findings from the theory of general relativity by means of realist models of quantum-events. Our approach also sheds light on the information paradox and establishes a link between black holes and the question of dark energy and dark matter.

]]>A hidden variables matrix mechanics model of the harmonic oscillator is presented as a counter-example in examining fundamental assumptions of quantum mechanics. Solutions are obtained which can be interpreted as describing continuous motion of a particle at all times located at points in space. While this is contrary to the basic postulate of Heisenberg, the experimental results of the standard matrix mechanics treatment are nevertheless reproduced. The proposed model is motivated by the foundational issues raised by Bell. Inequalities violation is however, attributed to the mathematical representation of outcome quantities as metric variables rather than the consensus assumption of local causality. Examining the consequence of this alternative conclusion on an actual quantum system creates an overlapping between Bell inspired foundational issues and the original postulates of Heisenberg and Born. Heisenberg’s basic postulates – randomness of transitions and treating the system as an ensemble – are critical. Bohr’s assumption that transitions occur instantaneously, together with Heisenberg’s non-path postulate where the particle can be measured at spatially separated locations without continuous movement between locations, are discarded. Heisenberg’s measurable-only quantities are interpreted as arising from a substructure of periodic endogenous motion of the system.

]]>John P. Ralston [Show Biography]

Planck’s constant was introduced as a fundamental unit in the early history of quantum mechanics. We find a modern approach where Planck’s constant is absent: it is unobservable except as a constant of human convention. Despite long reference to experiment, review shows that Planck’s constant cannot be obtained from the data of Ryberg, Davisson and Germer, Compton, or that used by Planck himself. In the new approach Planck’s constant is tied to macroscopic conventions of Newtonian origin, which are dispensable. The precision of other fundamental constants is substantially improved by eliminating Planck’s constant. The electron mass is determined about 67 times more precisely, and the unit of electric charge determined 139 times more precisely. Improvement in the experimental value of the fine structure constant allows new types of experiment to be compared towards finding “new physics.” The long-standing goal of eliminating reliance on the artifact known as the International Prototype Kilogram can be accomplished to assist progress in fundamental physics.

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