[ExI] Is the wave function real?

Jason Resch jasonresch at gmail.com
Sat Dec 3 17:02:07 UTC 2016

On Sat, Dec 3, 2016 at 10:24 AM, Stuart LaForge <avant at sollegro.com> wrote:

> Jason Resch wrote:
> <The wave function is a standard assumption of all QM
> theories/interpretations that accurately describes the evolution of any
> isolated system. The universal wave function just treats the entire
> universe as an isolated system, and applies the regular rules of QM to
> determine how it evolves.>
> When I took college chemistry, I was taught the Copenhagen "shut up and
> calculate" interpretation of QM. This was back in 90's. One of the things
> I noticed was my professors were hesitant to discuss anything to do with
> the implications QM might have for the nature of reality.
> Because of this, I tended to regard QM as an accurate-as-possible
> epistemic model of the behavior of entities on the lower limit of what we
> can, with sensitive instrumentation, measure. I suspected that the wave
> function itself was a statistical compromise for hidden variables that we
> just didn't have the ability to detect.
> Over the years, I have resisted thinking of the wave function as a real
> entity. To my mind, it simply organized and quantified our ignorance about
> the system and its degrees of freedom sort of like Boltzmann entropy. In
> my opinion, to think otherwise would smack of platonism and a dualistic
> world view.
> The reason I bring this up is that MWI posits an ontologically real
> Universal Wave Function that I capitalize because, like the Internet, it
> is unique. It represents the wave function of every wave-particle in the
> universe, including those that comprise the observer, entangled into a
> giant wave function with a possibly infinite number of terms.
> Infinity sitting somewhere out there in Hilbert space, doling out entire
> universes to observers who roll the quantum dice. I thought it was a bit
> much to swallow. On the flip side, I have always admired MWI for its
> deterministic nature, the fact that it is a better fit with GR,
> decoherence, etc.
> So this was all until just yesterday when I found this paper:
> http://www.nature.com/nphys/journal/v11/n3/full/nphys3233.html
> For those of you trapped behind a paywall, here is the arxive version:
> https://arxiv.org/pdf/1412.6213v2.pdf
> So now apparently we have empirical evidence suggesting the wave function
> really is real and published in nature, no less. So that rules out about
> one third of the extant interpretations of QM out there, including
> Copenhagen.

Interesting, thanks for sharing the link. I am reading through it now.

Are you familiar with the book Theory of Nothing by Russell Standish? He
has a free e-book version available at his site:

What I found most fascinating about it is that he shows how you can derive
the mathematics of the wave function and other quantum postulates, from a
very simple theory of observation in the context of an infinite reality.
This also suggests that "splitting universes" isn't the correct way to view
what is happening, but rather the infinite instances of our minds are
differentiating as we encounter different information.

Bruno Marchal has taken this a step further, and shown that from
arithmetical realism, the idea that the integers and their additive and
multiplicative relations, are sufficient to explain the appearance of
physical reality including quantum mechanics. In a sense, had his theory
arrived before quantum mechanics, it would have served as a prediction for
the existence of quantum phenomenon:

Are these ideas Platonist? Surely, but I don't think that is a bad thing,
Why should nature be so capricious to only realize a single universe,
history, and set of physical laws? If this universe, with its laws can
sustain itself, why can't other sound mathematical structures do likewise?
I think the block in a lot of people's minds has to do with time. Things in
math don't change. But a thorough understanding of special relativity
suggests block time, our universe can be viewed as a static 4-dimensional
block, with all points in time equally real and always extant. Should this
4-d block be the only such mathematical structure blessed with reality?

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