I have been reading through a Wired article on pilot wave theory which talks about new evidence in support of Louis de Broglie's concept of pilot theory through experiments showing that the droplet in a double slit experiment goes through one slit and the pilot wave going through both.

In the article, physicists are quoted saying things like

“I think the experiments are very clever and mind-expanding, ... but they take you only a few steps along what would have to be a very long road, going from a hypothetical classical underlying theory to the successful use of quantum mechanics as we know it.” - Frank Wilczek, a professor of physics at MIT and a Nobel laureate


“This really is a very striking and visible manifestation of the pilot-wave phenomenon ... It’s mind-blowing — but it’s not going to replace actual quantum mechanics anytime soon.” - Seth Lloyd, a quantum physicist at MIT

The article goes on to talk about how pilot theory is

"more cumbersome than standard quantum mechanics. Some researchers said that the theory has trouble dealing with identical particles, and that it becomes unwieldy when describing multiparticle interactions. They also claimed that it combines less elegantly with special relativity."

Looking into it some myself, it seems that one of the reasons why everyone is not on board is that the pilot wave interpretation gives up locality.

So, what obstacles does pilot theory have to overcome through more research before it can become a more uniformly accepted theory?


marked as duplicate by ACuriousMind, JamalS, Kyle Kanos, Qmechanic Nov 10 '14 at 14:33

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    $\begingroup$ Besides make a prediction the other interpretations cannot and find it to be true? $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Nov 4 '14 at 19:19
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    $\begingroup$ "what obstacles does pilot theory have to overcome through more research..." No time for a detailed answer but the physical predictions from Bohmian mechanics are claimed to be indistinguishable from the physical predictions of ordinary non-relativistic QM. Thus, in this realm, it would seem that there is no physical reason to choose one or the other, i.e., there is a kind of gauge degree of freedom at work. By the way, according to Bohmian mechanics, stationary states are truly stationary, e.g., in the ground state of hydrogen, the electron is not only localized but fixed in space. $\endgroup$ – Alfred Centauri Nov 4 '14 at 21:21
  • $\begingroup$ The interesting part of your question (how theories come be accepted in general) is the subject of Peter Galison's excellent book How Experiments End. $\endgroup$ – rob Nov 10 '14 at 1:51
  • $\begingroup$ Possible duplicates: physics.stackexchange.com/q/7112/2451 , physics.stackexchange.com/q/8817/2451 and links therein. $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Nov 10 '14 at 12:08

I would say the biggest obstacle is that it is just another interpretation of QM - AFAIK it makes no new testable predictions that can distinguish it from conventional QM. Nor does it seem to provide any significant practical advantages over existing QM formalism when it comes to use. It may well offer a more intuitive satisfaction when explaining "what really happens" but that is philosophy and not physics.


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