This tag is for questions about the quantum mechanical measurement problem, such as e.g. the wavefunction collapse/decoherence. DO NOT USE THIS TAG for non-quantum measurements.

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What is an observer in quantum mechanics?

My question is not about (pseudo) philosophical debate; it concerns mathematical operations and experimental facts. What is an observer? What are the conditions required to be qualified of observer, ...
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5answers
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Isn't the uncertainty principle just non-fundamental limitations in our current technology that could be removed in a more advanced civilization?

From what I understand, the uncertainty principle states that there is a fundamental natural limit to how accurately we can measure velocity and momentum at the same time. It's not a limit on ...
12
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6answers
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What constitutes an observation/measurement in QM?

Fundamental notions of QM have to do with observation, a major example being The Uncertainty Principle. What is the technical definition of an observation/measurement? If I look at a QM system, it ...
19
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10answers
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Why can't the outcome of a QM measurement be calculated a-priori?

Quantum Mechanics is very successful in determining the overall statistical distribution of many measurements of the same process. On the other hand, it is completely clueless in determining the ...
13
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4answers
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Entanglement, real or just math?

I'm new here, actually this is my first question so I'll just get to it. In quantum entanglement when something acts on one particle the other one reacts also, just in reverse (more or less). From ...
10
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4answers
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Electrons - What is Waving?

If an electron is a wave, what is waving? So many answers on the internet say "the probability that a particle will be at a particular location"... so... the electron is a physical manifestation of ...
16
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2answers
843 views

Is the uncertainty principle just saying something about what an observer can know or is it a fundamental property of nature?

I ask this question because I have read two different quotes on the uncertainty principle that don't seem to match very well. There are similar questions around here but I would like an explanation ...
4
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3answers
770 views

Uncertainty principle and measurement

I would like to really understand how the uncertainty principle in QM works, from a practical point of view. So this is my narrative of how an experiment goes, and I'm quickly in trouble: we prepare ...
45
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9answers
3k views

Is the uncertainty principle a property of elementary particles or a result of our measurement tools?

In many physics divulgation books I've read, this seems to be a commonly accepted point of view (I'm making this quote up, as I don't remember the exact words, but this should give you an idea): ...
22
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6answers
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Simple example showing why measurement & interaction are different

Does someone know of a clear (pedagogical) example where one can really see(with the math) where interaction and measurement are not synonymous in quantum mechanics? I know that every measurement ...
10
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5answers
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Does an electron move from one excitation state to another, or jump?

I'm wondering, when an electron changes state, does it move from one state to another over some (very small) time period? Or does it change from one state to another in no time? If the former, what ...
6
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4answers
747 views

Is uncertainty principle a technical difficulty in measurement? [duplicate]

Is the uncertainty principle a technical difficulty in measurement or is it an intrinsic concept in quantum mechanics irrelevant of any measurement? Everyone knows the thought experiment of measuring ...
7
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5answers
669 views

How isolated must a system be for it's wave function to be considered not collapsed?

As an undergrad I was often confused over people's bafflement with Schodinger's cat thought experiment. It seemed obvious to me that the term "observation" referred to the Geiger counter, not the ...
10
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3answers
1k views

Is the collapse of the wave function inherently time asymmetric?

Schroedinger's equation, as we all know, is time symmetric. In quantum field theory, we have to come up with a more sophisticated CPT reversal, but the essential point remains unchanged. However, the ...
7
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8answers
2k views

What exactly is the 'observer' in physics and/or quantum mechanics? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: nature of an observer For instance, in the double slit experiment, what is exactly defined as an observer? I remember from somewhere, light is also an observer?
6
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7answers
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Why is Heisenberg's uncertainty principle not an experimental error since it is the error created by photons striking on elementary particles? [duplicate]

Why is Heisenberg's uncertainty principle not an experimental error since it is the error created by photons striking on elementary particles?
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6answers
2k views

Is there a difference between observing a particle and hitting it with another particle?

First, let me state that I'm a lot less experienced with physics than most people here. Quantum mechanics was as far as I got and that was about 9 years ago, with no use in the meantime. A lot of ...
10
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5answers
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Is quantum entanglement functionally equivalent to a measurement?

I saw the following talk the other day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEaecUuEqfc&feature=share In it, Dr. Ron Garret posits that entanglement isn't really that "special" of a property. He ...
10
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9answers
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Hidden observers in Double Slit experiments - Do they matter?

I'm still struggling a bit with some ideas around double slit experiments. One that keeps cropping up for me is the role of observers. Imagine a classic double slit experiment with a hidden observer ...
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3answers
159 views

Is the uncertainity principle a practical reality, a theoretical law or a measurement problem? [duplicate]

I understand we cannot state with arbitrary precision the position and momentum of a micro-particle as we superpose infinite waves to create a wave packet at the exact position of the particle and ...
1
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3answers
569 views

Can we measure “wavefunction” of quantum particles?

We know that there is uncertainty principle, so question: can we ever measure wavefunction of particles? I do not think this is possible, but I am not sure. I guess that everything is probabilistic. ...
0
votes
1answer
176 views

The System and the Measuring Gadget

In Quantum Mechanics the value of an observable results from the interaction between the "system" with the "Measuring gadget". But when the experimenter[or the technologist concerned] is ...
35
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10answers
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What is the difference between a measurement and any other interaction in quantum mechanics?

We've learned that the wave function of a particle collapses when we measure a particle's location. If it is found, it becomes more probable to find it a again in the same area, and if not the ...
13
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2answers
613 views

Are Thomas Breuer's subjective decoherence and Scott Aaronson's freebits with Knightian freedom the same things in essence?

In his remarkable works (1,2 and their recent development 3) Thomas Breuer proves by diagonalization the phenomenon that the observer cannot distinguish all phase space states of a system where he is ...
12
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3answers
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Bell's theorem and why nonlocality is problematic

I generally hear it assumed that Bell's inequality implies violation of counterfactual definiteness, because locality is considered sacrosanct. I understand of course that measurable violations of ...
10
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7answers
708 views

Born's rule and Schrödinger's equation

In non-relativistic quantum mechanics, the equation of evolution of the quantum state is given by Schrödinger's equation and measurement of a state of particle is itself a physical process. Thus, ...
6
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3answers
622 views

Information conservation during quantum measurement

Consider the following experiment. I take a spin-$\frac{1}{2}$ particle and make a $\sigma_x$ measurement (measure the spin in the $x$ direction), then make a $\sigma_y$ measurement, then another ...
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5answers
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Why is the Heisenberg uncertainty principle stated the way it is?

I spent a long time being confused by the Heisenberg uncertainty principle in my quantum chemistry class. It is frequently stated that the "position and momentum of a particle cannot be ...
5
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5answers
718 views

If the size of universe doubled

My question is silly formulated, but I want to know if there is some sensible physical question buried in it: Suppose an exact copy of our universe is made, but where spatial distances and sizes are ...
3
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5answers
420 views

How do we know that there isn't a classical solution to the measurement problem/Quantum Mechanical uncertainty?

It was mentioned to me that it can be shown that there is no classical explanation for the uncertainty in Quantum Mechanics -- i.e. that there are no hidden workings that we have just not yet seen, ...
3
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4answers
875 views

Why, for a spin-½ particle, are the possible outcomes of measuring spin projection along any direction the same?

If one measures the projection of spin of a spin half particle along the $x$ axis one will always get $\pm\tfrac12\hbar$. Measuring it along the $y$ axis one will always get $\pm\tfrac12\hbar$. ...
3
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4answers
1k views

How can indeterminacy in quantum mechanics be derived from lack of ability to observe a cause?

I don't get this part of quantum mechanics. I get the part that you can't observe particles and not affect their behavior because you are shooting photons to them while you are observing them, but ...
2
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1answer
106 views

Do electrons have a location before they are observed/measured? [closed]

Is this in all interpretations of QM? What about interpretations that are realist (MWI, penrose, ect)?
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3answers
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Can randomness exist?

Considering every cause has an action, how can anything be random? For something to happen, it must have a cause and through that definition it can't be random. Considering this why are many quantum ...
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4answers
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How does a state vector be projected onto an eigenspace after measurement

In http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Measurement_in_quantum_mechanics#Degenerate_spectra, it is said that If there are multiple eigenstates with the same eigenvalue (called degeneracies),..., The ...
2
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1answer
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How do we know superposition exists?

How do we know superposition exists? Has it been observed, or has it been deduced, and how certain are we? The Copenhagen Interpretation seems to imply that superposition collapses into one state ...
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2answers
188 views

Non-locality and Bell's theory

Non-Locality – (just ) one more question? I have read comments that Bell’s theory proves quantum mechanics is non-local, and also comments that it does not. I have read a comment by a very eminent ...
21
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4answers
539 views

Is every quantum measurement reducible to measurements of position and time?

I am currently studying Path Integrals and was unable to resolve the following problem. In the famous book Quantum Mechanics and Path Integrals, written by Feynman and Hibbs, it says (at the beginning ...
14
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4answers
2k views

How is it possible that quantum phenomenons (e.g. superposition) are possible when all quantum particles are being constantly observed?

I don't understand how quantum mechanics (and therefore also quantum computers) can work given that while we work with quantum states, particles that this quantum state consist of cannot be observed, ...
5
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1answer
515 views

What is the difference between general measurement and projective measurement?

Nielsen and Chuang mention in Quantum Computation and Information that there are two kinds of measurement : general and projective ( and also POVM but that's not what I'm worried about ). General ...
3
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5answers
542 views

How does a Wavefunction collapse?

I have been wondering and researching... How does a wavefunction collapse into one state?More specifically, what conditions cause a wavefunction for a quantum particle to collapse? Does this have to ...
3
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4answers
992 views

Must Matter Particles Have A Hard Edge?

It's my understanding that electrons are particles, and it's also my understanding that their location while orbiting an atom cannot be determined precisely and must be determined by statistics and ...
10
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1answer
282 views

Can observers be particles?

Generally Quantum mechanics divides a system what is to be observed and an observer. This is generally taken to be some human being. But why restrict it to such? Why not a particle? Is there a good ...
8
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3answers
454 views

What is the physical meaning of weak expectation values?

In the two-state formalism of Yakir Aharanov, the weak expectation value of an operator $A$ is $\frac{\langle \chi | A | \psi \rangle}{\langle \chi | \psi \rangle}$. This can have bizarre properties. ...
5
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3answers
365 views

Looking for a simple example of generating unequal probabilities in QM

I am trying to understand the problem of branch counting in Everettian interpretations of QM, so I thought I would try to analyze a simple example of starting with equal branch amplitudes that evolve ...
4
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3answers
210 views

How do probabilities emerge in the many-worlds interpretation?

My understanding is that at each quantized unit of time that a split occurs, every possible recombination of particles occurs in the 'objective' universe. If this is the case, what relevance to ...
3
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1answer
277 views

The Physical Meaning behind a Commutator [duplicate]

I've just been introduced to the idea of commutators and I'm aware that it's not a trivial thing if two operators $A$ and $B$ commute, i.e. if two Hermitian operators commute then the eigenvalues of ...
3
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1answer
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Application of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle

I've the following application of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. If a beam of particles in localised in the $x$-direction by a long slit, what is the uncertainty in position? Firstly, I ...
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8answers
806 views

Does the wave function/density state actually exist?

I have been reading with interest the debates here on whether the wave function/density state actually collapses or not, or whether it is subjective Bayesian or objective with actual complex numbered ...
2
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1answer
206 views

How did we come to know that electrons actually 'move' in an atom?

Rutherford's experiments confirmed the existence of light-weight electron clouds in a mostly empty atom, and that they occupy some space around the nucleus. What made us conclude that they can move? ...