Episode #125 of the Stack Overflow podcast is here. We talk Tilde Club and mechanical keyboards. Listen now

Questions tagged [foundations]

Devoted to the conceptual bases of the fundamental theories of physics, to their philosophical and logical premises.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
77
votes
15answers
10k views

Why quantum mechanics?

Imagine you're teaching a first course on quantum mechanics in which your students are well-versed in classical mechanics, but have never seen any quantum before. How would you motivate the subject ...
30
votes
5answers
3k views

Reason for the discreteness arising in quantum mechanics?

What is the most essential reason that actually leads to the quantization. I am reading the book on quantum mechanics by Griffiths. The quanta in the infinite potential well for e.g. arise due to the ...
61
votes
8answers
5k views

Why is the application of probability in QM fundamentally different from application of probability in other areas?

Why is the application of probability in quantum mechanics (QM) fundamentally different from its application in other areas? QM applies probability according to the same probability axioms as in other ...
9
votes
3answers
4k views

Learn QM algebraic formulations and interpretations

I have a good undergrad knowledge of quantum mechanics, and I'm interesting in reading up more about interpretation and in particular things related to how QM emerges algebraically from some ...
20
votes
5answers
3k views

What happened with Hilbert's sixth problem (the axiomatization of physics) after Gödel's work?

I'll write the question but I'm not fully confident of the premises I'm making here. I'm sorry if my proposal is too silly. Hilbert's sixth problem consisted roughly about finding axioms for physics (...
37
votes
7answers
19k views

How can one derive Schrödinger equation?

The Schrödinger equation is the basis to understanding quantum mechanics, but how can one derive it? I asked my instructor but he told me that it came from the experience of Schrödinger and his ...
28
votes
3answers
5k views

The interpretation of mass in quantum field theories

Consider a free theory with one real scalar field: $$ \mathcal{L}:=-\frac{1}{2}\partial _\mu \phi \partial ^\mu \phi -\frac{1}{2}m^2\phi ^2. $$ We write this positive coefficient in front of $\phi ^2$ ...
7
votes
7answers
1k views

Why should a (physical) principle be applicable to different systems in different positions in space and time?

This is a question with a philosophical, as well as physical, flavor. Why should a physical principle (or a description of one), be applicable to different systems that can be in different positions ...
141
votes
10answers
14k views

What makes a theory “Quantum”?

Say you cook up a model about a physical system. Such a model consists of, say, a system of differential equations. What criterion decides whether the model is classical or quantum-mechanical? None ...
28
votes
6answers
2k views

Is the density operator a mathematical convenience or a 'fundamental' aspect of quantum mechanics?

In quantum mechanics, one makes the distinction between mixed states and pure states. A classic example of a mixed state is a beam of photons in which 50% have spin in the positive $z$-direction and ...
5
votes
1answer
443 views

Why is time-evolution unitary (the sequel)?

One foundational postulate of QM is that a closed physical system at one instant of time, say $t$, is completely described by a wavefunction $\psi \in S^1\subset H$ (where $H$ is a Hilbert space and $...
102
votes
6answers
5k views

What are the justifying foundations of statistical mechanics without appealing to the ergodic hypothesis?

This question was listed as one of the questions in the proposal (see here), and I didn't know the answer. I don't know the ethics on blatantly stealing such a question, so if it should be deleted or ...
2
votes
1answer
216 views

Are certain fields of physics axiomatized?

Everything from Quantum mechanics can be derived from six (?) postulates. Similarly classical electrodynamics can be reduced to Maxwell's equations and Lorentz force law, and special relativity is ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

The Origins of the Second Quantization

I've been studying quantum theory for a while now and have a number of closely related questions that are not giving me any peace. I am not sure if such a long format is appropriate here, but I'd like ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Why hermitian, after all? [duplicate]

This question is going to look a lot like a duplicate, but I've read dozens of related posts and they don't touch the subject. Here we go. Why are observables represented by hermitian operators? ...
6
votes
2answers
232 views

Implication of Born's rule on the superposition principle

BACKGROUND Born's rule quantifies the interference pattern of a single quantum particle going through two possibles paths A and B as $P = |A|^2 + |B|^2 + ⟨A|B⟩ + ⟨B|A⟩$. The standard interpretation ...
2
votes
0answers
216 views

The implications of Gödel's Second Incompleteness Theorem on Theoretical Physics models [duplicate]

Does Gödel's Second Incompleteness Theorem imply that no Theoretical Physics model of reality can be proved to be consistent using the laws of physics? I work partially in Quantum Information Theory ...
1
vote
2answers
100 views

How are propositions concerning spacetime curvature constructed explicitly in terms of coincidences?

Is Einstein's insight [1] that All our well-substantiated space-time propositions amount to the determination of space-time coincidences [such as] encounters between two or more [...] material ...
93
votes
1answer
4k views

Experimental test of the non-statisticality theorem?

Context: The paper On the reality of the quantum state (Nature Physics 8, 475–478 (2012) or arXiv:1111.3328) shows under suitable assumptions that the quantum state cannot be interpreted as a ...
8
votes
1answer
684 views

Are identity types interpreted physically in an infinity-topos formulation of equations of motion?

In reference to Urs Schreibers paper/book on foundations of field theory Differential cohomology in a cohesive infinity-topos I wonder: are identity types there used "only" for the computations, or ...
7
votes
2answers
5k views

How important is mathematical proof in physics?

How important are proofs in physics? If something is mathematically proven to follow from something we know is true, does it still require experimental verification? Are there examples of things that ...
3
votes
3answers
161 views

How can we certify that the randomness in the measurement outcomes is not due to randomness in the state preparation?

According to the theory of quantum mechanics, if a spin state is prepared along axis "x", and then measured along axis "z", then the result of the spin projection is probabilistic: half of the times ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the difference between realism in locality, and counterfactual definiteness?

I understand the EPR-experiment and the Bell inequalities. I can see how dropping 'locality' solves the issue, and how dropping 'realism' solves the issue (e.g. there are really no hidden variables ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

The meaning of 'postulate' in physics? [duplicate]

What does postulate mean in physics? What is its role in physical theories? Is it possible to break physical postulates?
2
votes
1answer
73 views

How much freedom is there in a quantum field?

Let's imagine we have a free scalar quantum field, and that it has 2 particles in a specific momentum eigenstate only. Does this information completely fix the quantum field, or is there additional ...
0
votes
2answers
277 views

Tensor product postulate [duplicate]

Non relativistic quantum mechanics assumes that a composite system should be described with the tensor product of the component systems. This is the tensor product postulate of quantum mechanics. I ...
8
votes
3answers
207 views

Are bubble chamber tracks inconsistent with quantum mechanics?

I am reading the book How Is Quantum Field Theory Possible? by Sunny Auyang, and he raises an interesting point in chapter 4 (p. 23): L. E. Ballentine argued that the projection postulate leads to ...
4
votes
1answer
338 views

What are type system examples of local gauge transformation- and field strength-like objects?

This is essentially a follow up motivated by this answer to my question about the gauge transformation interpretation of identity types. A field $$\psi:\mathcal M\to\mathbb C^n$$ is a section of the ...
0
votes
2answers
164 views

Is the one-dimensional string actually a real string, with some diameter to its cross section — just as a rope has some thickness?

Would not a one-dimensional string be just a Platonic idea, and not actually physical? Because if physical, the one dimensional string would comprise a line of point particles, each point particle ...
0
votes
0answers
71 views

How do quantum field values combine?

I am interested in how quantum field values combine under superpositions of states in the case of free real scalar fields. I believe I understand the following: A fock basis of a free real scalar ...
0
votes
2answers
292 views

Is Bells inequality always violated? [closed]

Is Bell inequality always violated by a quantum system? Can it ever be violated by a classical system?