# Tag Info

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The ergodic hypothesis is not part of the foundations of statistical mechanics. In fact, it only becomes relevant when you want to use statistical mechanics to make statements about time averages. Without the ergodic hypothesis statistical mechanics makes statements about ensembles, not about one particular system. To understand this answer you have to ...

28

As for references to other approaches to the foundations of Statistical Physics, you can have a look at the classical paper by Jaynes; see also, e.g., this paper (in particular section 2.3) where he discusses the irrelevance of ergodic-type hypotheses as a foundation of equilibrium statistical mechanics. Of course, Jaynes' approach also suffers from a number ...

18

Why would you ever try to motivate a physical theory without appealing to experimental results??? The motivation of quantum mechanics is that it explains experimental results. It is obvious that you would choose a simpler, more intuitive picture than quantum mechanics if you weren't interested in predicting anything. If you are willing to permit some ...

9

I am late to this party here, but I can maybe advertize something pretty close to a derivation of quantum mechanics from pairing classical mechanics with its natural mathematical context, namely with Lie theory. I haven't had a chance yet to try the following on first-year students, but I am pretty confident that with just a tad more pedagogical guidance ...

8

If I'm only allowed to use one single word to give an oversimplified intuitive reason for the discreteness in quantum mechanics, I would choose the word 'compactness'. Examples: The finite number of states in a compact region of phase space. See e.g. this Phys.SE post. The discrete spectrum for Lie algebra generators of a compact Lie group, e.g. angular ...

8

No macroscopic quantum system is described by a pure state. For example, notions like temperature or pressure, which apply to macroscopic systems do not even exist for systems described by a pure state. The description of macroscopic objects (discussed in statistical mechanics) is always in terms of a density matrix (or the essentially equivalent notion of a ...

8

You are right, it is wrong to think that in gauge theory "gauge transformations are just a redundancy". This becomes true only if one abandons locality, ignores all boundary effects, all instanton effects, hence most of what is interesting about gauge theory. Of course forming gauge equivalence classes (say of observables) is something one wants to do every ...

7

Well, the problem is still open. Although maybe the axioms were taken as self-evident for mathematics, Hilbert did not really want mathematically self-evident axioms to be the basics for physical axioms. Since Gauß and the hyperbolic space, it is well known that you can get equally valid models from different assumptions that could all be seen as ...

7

I suppose there are two scientific reasons to look into the foundations of QM: As part of checking in finer and finer detail that indeed the world is governed by standard quantum physics. The towering example here is Bell's theorem. From inspection of the foundations this makes some prediction which can be and has been checked by experiment. As part of the ...

6

You should use history of physics to ask them questions where classical physics fail. For example, you can tell them result of Rutherford's experiment and ask: If an electron is orbiting around nucleus, it means a charge is in acceleration. So, electrons should release electromagnetic energy. If that's the case, electrons would loose its energy to collapse ...

6

I searched for "mixing" and didn't find it in other answers. But this is the key. Ergodicity is largely irrelevant, but mixing is the property that makes equilibrium statistical physics tick for many-particle systems. See, e.g., Sklar's Physics and Chance or Jaynes' papers on statistical physics. The chaotic hypothesis of Gallavotti and Cohen basically ...

6

There are several forms of discreteness in quantum theory. The simplest one is the discreteness of eigenvalues and the associated countable eigenstates. Those arise similarly to the discrete standing waves on a guitar string. The boundary conditions only allow certain standing waves that nicely fit into the enforced region in space. Even though the string is ...

6

There's two (ultimately related) answers. For the first answer, just forget about $\hbar$ (but say $c=1$), we are doing a classical relativistic field theory. The first is that you can consider the field profile around a static, spherically symmetric source of mass $M$ (you need to add a coupling to the action of the form $g \phi J$, where $J$ is an ...

5

Let me try to convince you that the density operator is a mathematical convenience and not a fundamental aspect of quantum mechanics by describing a very general setup for states and observables in both classical and quantum mechanics. This may not directly answer your question, but hopefully it will settle whatever motivated this question. Briefly, ...

5

It seems that perhaps you are missing a crucial piece of the puzzle. The stochastic approach you describe is equivalent to performing a unitary which is chosen stochastically (essentially applying a superoperator) and then measuring in some fixed basis. In principle, however, you can go further, by stochastically choosing whether or not to measure at all, ...

5

An excellent book which does more or less what you ask for is Asher Peres' "Quantum theory:concepts and methods". It starts from the Stern-Gerlach experiments and logical reasoning to develop the basic principles of quantum mechanics. From there, it develops the necessary algebra. Another interesting book for an approach of the conceptual side of quantum ...

5

If I would be designing an introduction to quantum physics course for physics undergrads, I would seriously consider starting from the observed Bell-GHZ violations. Something along the lines of David Mermin's approach. If there is one thing that makes clear that no form of classical physics can provide the deepest law of nature, this is it. (This does make ...

5

Though there are many good answers here, I believe I can still contribute something which answers a small part of your question. There is one reason to look for a theory beyond classical physics which is purely theoretical and this is the UV catastrophe. According to the classical theory of light, an ideal black body at thermal equilibrium will emit ...

5

Mathematical proof is to physics roughly what syllogism (or some other fundamental inference rule) is to logic. Namely, it begins from assumptions modelling our conception of some physical reality and shows what must be so if the assumptions hold, but it cannot say anything about the underlying assumptions themselves. A simple example was given by dmckee in ...

5

Here is a belated reply. (I come across this question only now, by chance. This was posted right when our daughter was born, which was kind of distracting for me...) The quick answer to the question is the following somewhat remarkable statement Identity types in the new foundations of mathematics in homotopy type theory correspond in physics to spaces of ...

5

To be honest, I think that the route you describe (and which is also used in many textbooks) is not physically well motivated at all. You have begun with a theory of a fermion with a global symmetry which maps physical states to different physical states. This theory has the property that specifying initial conditions on a spacelike surface completely ...

4

All the key parts of quantum mechanics may be found in classical physics. 1) In statistical mechanics the system is also described by a distribution function. No definite coordinates, no definite momenta. 2) Hamilton made his formalism for classical mechanics. His ideas were pretty much in line with ideas which were put into modern quantum mechanics long ...

4

Given a $C^\ast$-algebra $A$, its "Bohr topos" (see there for a survey) is the presheaf topos on its commutative subalgebras. The idea here is that if we think of $A$ as the algebra of quantum operators of a quantum mechanical system (for instance all the bounded operators on the Hilbert space of states of a system), then the commutative subalgebras ...

4

Hilbert's Sixth problem is not the same as finding the theory of everything and then making the maths rigorous. This is a very common misconception, and has led to people thinking that making renormalisation in QFT rigorous was the main thing to do. But in fact Hilbert stated explicitly that it would be just as important to axiomatise false physical ...

3

My impression from the literature is that physicists are still divided on this question. The Quantum Information Theory camp says the latter, but the Quantum Optics people say the former. A related, but distinct, issue is whether one regards the concept of «open system» as a mere mathematical convenience, or as a fundamental concept. This issue has ...

3

Anthony Sudbery, Quantum Mechanics.... is an excellent text which emphasises the theory and interpretation rather than the drill problems...in fact he is a mathematician and quantum information theorist and this book is not so useful for someone who needs to bone up on their perturbation theory and get ready for QED, it focuses on what it sounds like you ...

3

As an initial aside, there is nothing uniquely ‘quantum’ about non commuting operators or formulating mechanics in a Hilbert space as demonstrated by Koopman–von Neumann mechanics, and there is nothing uniquely ‘classical’ about a phase space coordinate representation of mechanics as shown by Groenewold and Moyal’s formulation of Quantum theory. There does ...

3

I am not entirely sure what you are asking, but since you seem to be sincerely interested in understanding some of the fundamentals of Quantum Mechanics, I'll do my best to answer what I think you are asking. The answer to why we don't consider a wave function to be a "real, deterministically evolving matter wave" is simply that such an interpretation ...

3

You are asking about classical mechanics, and you should read a bit lower in the article you linked to: Classical mechanics distinguishes between kinetic energy, which is determined by an object's movement through space, and potential energy, which is a function of the position of an object within a field, which may itself be related to the arrangement ...

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