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Quantum Mechanics - Theoretical Implications Of Quantum Mechanics

variables hidden theory objects

The standard model of quantum physics offers an theoretically and mathematically sound model of particle behavior that serves as an empirically validated middle-ground between the need for undiscovered hidden variables that determine particle behavior, and a mystical anthropocentric universe where it is the observations of humans that determine reality. Although the implications of the latter can be easily dismissed, the debate over the existence of hidden variables in quantum theory remained a subject of serious scientific debate during the twentieth century. Based upon our everyday experience, well explained by the deterministic concepts of classical physics, it is intuitive that there be hidden variables to determine quantum states. Nature is not, however, obliged to act in accord with what is convenient or easy to understand. Although the existence and understanding of heretofore hidden variables might seemingly explain Albert Einstein's "spooky" forces, the existence of such variables would simply provide the need to determine whether they, too, included their own hidden variables.

Quantum theory breaks this never-ending chain of causality by asserting (with substantial empirical evidence) that there are no hidden variables. Moreover, quantum theory replaces the need for a deterministic evaluation of natural phenomena with an understanding of particles and particle behavior based upon statistical probabilities. Although some philosophers and metaphysicists would like to keep the hidden variable argument alive, the experimental evidence is persuasive, compelling, and conclusive that such hidden variables do not exist.

See also Quantum number.


Resources

Books

Albert, A. Z. Quantum Mechanics and Experience. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992.

Bohr, Niels. The Unity of Knowledge. New York: Doubleday & Co., 1955.

Feynman, Richard P. QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1985.

Feynman, Richard P. The Character of Physical Law. MIT Press, 1985.

Gregory, B. Inventing Reality: Physics as Language. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1990.

Han, M.Y. The Probable Universe. Blue Ridge Summit, PA: TAB Books, 1993.

Liboff, Richard L. Introductory Quantum Mechanics. 4th ed. Addison-Wesley Publishing, 2002.

Phillips, A.C. Introduction to Quantum Mechanics. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2003.


K. Lee Lerner

KEY TERMS


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Classical mechanics

—A collection of theories, all derived from a few basic principles, that can be used to describe the motion of macroscopic objects.

Macroscopic

—This term describes large-scale objects like those we directly interact with on an everyday basis.

Microscopic

—This term describes extremely small-scale objects such as electrons and atoms with which we seldom interact on an individual basis as we do with macroscopic objects.

Observable

—A physical quantity, like position, velocity or energy, which can be determined by a measurement.

Planck's constant

—A constant written as h which was introduced by Max Planck in his quantum theory and which appears in every formula of quantum mechanics.

Probability

—The likelihood that a certain event will occur. If something happens half of the time, its probability is 1/2 = 0.5 = 50%.

Quantum

—The amount of radiant energy in the different orbits of an electron around the nucleus of an atom.

Wave

—A motion, in which energy and momentum is carried away from some source, which repeats itself in space and time with little or no change.

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