This tag is for questions about the exact nature of wavefunction collapse.

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19
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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 ...
11
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8answers
2k views

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, ...
10
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6answers
2k views

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
1k views

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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2answers
621 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 ...
40
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9answers
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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): ...
18
votes
6answers
796 views

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
696 views

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 ...
9
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4answers
1k views

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 ...
4
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4answers
464 views

Is uncertainty principle a technical difficulty in measurement?

I have searched for an answer to this question on physics SE but I have not seen a question in which it is addressed properly. Please let me know if there is an answer already. My question briefly ...
7
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5answers
597 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
908 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 ...
4
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7answers
875 views

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

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
1k 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 ...
6
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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?
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10answers
1k views

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 ...
11
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2answers
451 views
+100

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 ...
5
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3answers
503 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 ...
4
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5answers
635 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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3answers
526 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 ...
3
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5answers
342 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
674 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 $\pm\tfrac12\hbar$. ...
2
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1answer
85 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)?
7
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4answers
2k views

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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4answers
1k views

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 ...
3
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4answers
728 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 ...
1
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2answers
163 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 ...
0
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1answer
173 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 ...
21
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4answers
510 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 ...
8
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6answers
337 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, ...
13
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4answers
634 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, ...
12
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3answers
900 views

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 ...
4
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2answers
3k views

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 ...
3
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4answers
952 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 ...
3
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1answer
206 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 ...
10
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1answer
256 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 ...
2
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1answer
132 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? ...
2
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1answer
2k views

A Simple Explanation for the Schrödinger Equation and Model of Atom? [closed]

I tried reading the Wikipedia article to no avail - I simply cannot understand the Schrödinger Equation (what does each of the variables mean, especially the wave function), and the Schrödinger Model ...
0
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3answers
96 views

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

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 ...
11
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1answer
528 views

The measure problem in the anthropic principle

The anthropic principle is based upon Bayesian reasoning applied to the ensemble of universes, or parts thereof, conditioned upon the existence of conscious observers. That still leaves us with the ...
6
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3answers
371 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. ...
4
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2answers
128 views

In the double slit experiment, what happens when there is more than one observer trying to see which slit the same electron goes through?

From all the demonstrations Iv been able to find of Heisenberg's double slit experiment, whenever an observer tries to "see" which slit an electron passes through it collapses the wave function. My ...
3
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2answers
182 views

Understanding Well Defined States

I am self-studying from a text in QM. Well defined states are mentioned several times. By and large these are consistent and seem to be readily apparent: states of well defined energy are basis ...
3
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3answers
675 views

What happens after the collapse of a wavefunction?

If I have a quantum system which I prepare in a certain state, this state then evolves unitarily via a Hamiltonian. Suppose an observer provokes a collapse of the wave function by a certain ...
3
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8answers
698 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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3answers
227 views

How can the reduction postulate be removed with the other postulates of QM still leading to correct predictions?

In the axiomatic presentation of QM, I've seen it stated many times that the reduction postulate is not needed and/or incorrect, and could be gotten rid of. However, without the reduction postulate, ...
2
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1answer
3k views

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 ...
2
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4answers
717 views

Decoherence and collapse

It is said that the decoherence does not solve the problem of measurement and/or the emergence of classicality, can somebody explain it with simple analogies or in a manner accessible to a ...
2
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1answer
518 views

Measuring the magnitude of the magnetic field of a single electron due to its spin

Is it possible to measure the magnitude of the magnetic field of a single electron due to its spin? The electron's intrinsic magnetic field is not dependent upon the amount of energy it has does it? ...
1
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2answers
60 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 ...