We posted this paper on the arXiv last week: Quantum information theorists have created axiomatic reconstructions of quantum mechanics (QM) that are very successful at identifying precisely what distinguishes quantum probability theory from classical and more general probability theories in terms of information-theoretic principles. Herein, we show how two such principles, i.e., "Existence of an Information Unit" and "Continuous Reversibility," map to the relativity principle as it pertains to the invariant measurement of Planck's constant h for Stern-Gerlach (SG) spin measurements in spacetime in exact analogy to the relativity principle as it pertains to the invariant measurement of the speed of light c for special relativity (SR). Essentially, quantum information theorists have extended Einstein's use of the relativity principle from the boost invariance of measurements of c to include the SO(3) invariance of measurements of h between different reference frames of mutually complementary spin measurements via the principle of "Information Invariance & Continuity." Consequently, the "average-only" conservation represented by the Bell states that is responsible for the Tsirelson bound and the exclusion of the no-signalling, "superquantum" Popescu-Rohrlich joint probabilities is understood to result from conservation per Information Invariance & Continuity between different reference frames of mutually complementary measurements, and this maps to conservation per the relativity principle in spacetime. Thus, the axiomatic reconstructions of QM have succeeded in producing a principle account of QM that is every bit as robust as the postulates of SR, revealing a still broader role for the relativity principle in the foundations of physics.
"'Mysteries' of Modern Physics and the Fundamental Constants c, h, and G" Wins Honorable Mention in Prestigious Essay Contest
In the 2021 Gravity Research Foundation essay contest, we further extended the relativity principle to the measurement of yet another fundamental constant of Nature, Newton’s gravitational constant G. Our essay won Honorable Mention and will be considered for publication in a special issue of International Journal of Modern Physics D dedicated to the winners of this prestigious essay contest. The mystery of modern physics that we resolved using the relativity principle in this essay resides in Einstein’s theory of gravity called general relativity, which predicts that observers in different locations in space can measure different values for the mass of one and the same object, i.e., the contextuality of mass. Thus, we have now shown how the relativity principle (no preferred reference frame, NPRF) applied to G dictates the contextuality of mass in general relativity and NPRF applied to Planck's constant h dictates quantum entanglement in quantum mechanics. These "mysteries" are in complete analogy to NPRF applied to the speed of light c that dictates the "mysteries" of time dilation and length contraction in special relativity. This is further evidence that Einstein (and others yet today) are wrong in believing that quantum entanglement means quantum mechanics is “incomplete.” Indeed, what our essay shows is that quantum mechanics is, ironically, as complete as Einstein’s own theories of modern physics, i.e., special and general relativity.
With over 4700 downloads, "Answering Mermin's Challenge" is now the 15th most downloaded paper in Scientific Reports for 2020. Top 100 in Physics
In this paper, "Beyond Causal Explanation: Einstein's Principle Not Reichenbach's" we explain how the relativity principle, aka "no preferred reference frame (NPRF)," leads to the kinematic structure of quantum mechanics (QM), just as it leads to the kinematic structure of special relativity (SR). This advances QM from an operational theory to a principle theory on equal footing with SR. It has been 115 years since Einstein published his principle theory of SR and there is still no "constructive" counterpart, i.e., there is still no causal mechanism a la the luminiferous ether to account for the light postulate. Likewise, it has been 85 years since Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen (EPR) published their famous paper "Can Quantum-Mechanical Description of Physical Reality Be Considered Complete?" without a consensus constructive account of quantum entanglement. Perhaps it is time we abandon attempts to explain quantum entanglement via causal mechanisms just as we have abandoned attempts to explain the light postulate via the luminiferous ether?
Why do moving rulers shrink (length contraction) and moving clocks run slow (time dilation) such that everyone measures the same speed of light c, regardless of their relative motions? Einstein resolved this mystery at the turn of the 20th century in "principle fashion" by turning the question on its head. He invoked the relativity principle (AKA "no preferred reference frame") and argued that since c appears in the equations of physics, no preferred reference frame says that everyone must measure the same value for c regardless of their motions relative to the source (that is, regardless of their reference frames).
Length contraction and time dilation then follow as a result of this "light postulate." Ironically, he missed a chance to use the exact same principle to resolve the mystery of quantum entanglement, which he introduced in 1935, calling it "spooky actions at a distance." Indeed, he died believing that quantum entanglement was evidence that quantum mechanics was "incomplete" when his relativity principle would have told him that quantum mechanics is as complete as possible with respect to quantum entanglement.
Here is a link to the article.
After 24 years of research and 2 years of writing and revising the paper, we have finally published an answer to Mermin's challenge that he issued in American Journal of Physics in 1981. Our answer to Mermin's "challenging exercise" has been accepted for publication in Scientific Reports.
This paper "Re-Thinking the World with Neutral Monism: Removing the Boundaries Between Mind, Matter, and Spacetime," was published in a special issue of Entropy, "Models of Consciousness." Therein, we show how all of physics follows from two axioms via neutral monism (see summary chart below).
While many physicists believe physics is fundamental to consciousness, we argue in this paper that "the purvey of physics is to model and explore regularities and patterns in the self-consistent collection of shared information between perceptual origins (POs)." We write:
When POs exchange information about their perceptions, they realize that some of their disparate perceptions fit self-consistently into a single spacetime model with different reference frames for each PO. Thus, physicists' spacetime model of the "real external world" represents the self-consistent collection of shared perceptual information between POs, e.g., perceptions upon which Galilean or Lorentz transformations can be performed.
This idea is not unique to us. Here is how Weyl put it: Physics is the "Construction of objective reality out of the material of immediate experience." And, as Eddington said, "physics is about the world from the point of view of no one in particular." Thus, just as there is no dualism of the “inner” world of experience and the “outer” physical world, there is no dualism of psychology and physics.
I was scheduled to give this talk at the APS March Meeting last week in Denver, CO, but the meeting was cancelled due to the rising threat of COVID-19.
Poster by Tuyen Le (coauthor of "Answering Mermin's Challenge") for Presentation at Georgia Tech in January 2020
Quantum mechanics is arguably our most successful and accurate physical theory, having been confirmed to one part in a billion. Max Tegmark and John Wheeler reported, for example, that “about 30% of the U.S. gross national product is now based on inventions made possible by quantum mechanics.” And David Mermin calls quantum mechanics, “The greatest intellectual achievement of the 20th century.” Yet, quantum mechanics is mysterious. Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman said, “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.”
The mystery of quantum mechanics that we resolve in this paper was introduced in a famous 1935 paper by Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky, and Nathan Rosen called, “Can Quantum-Mechanical Description of Physical Reality Be Considered Complete?” The quantum property that led Einstein to believe quantum mechanics is incomplete is called “entanglement.” But, Einstein’s belief that entanglement could be accounted for by supplying its “missing elements” was shown to be false nine years after he died in a 1964 seminal paper by John Bell called, “On the Einstein Podolsky Rosen Paradox.” Bell showed that if reality contained hidden variables to account for quantum entanglement, then quantum mechanics was not only incomplete, but it was wrong. In his paper, Bell described an experiment that would reveal whether or not quantum mechanics was indeed incomplete. The experiment has since been performed many times in different forms and quantum mechanics has always been vindicated.
While the formalism of quantum mechanics is clear in its prediction for Bell’s experiment, it does not provide any explanation for that prediction, just a mathematical description for the outcomes. A layman’s explanation of this mystery was provided by David Mermin in a famous 1981 paper titled, “Bringing home the atomic world: Quantum mysteries for anybody” that Richard Feynman called, “One of the most beautiful papers in physics that I know.” Therein, he presented the “Mermin device” that illustrates the mystery of entanglement for the “general reader.” He then challenged the “physicist reader” to explain the way the device works “in terms meaningful to a general reader struggling with the dilemma raised by the device.”
Most researchers in foundations of physics believe that resolving the mystery of quantum mechanics will require an entirely new scientific worldview. In his 2004 book, Richard DeWitt writes:
New discoveries in the 1600’s, such as those involving Galileo and the telescope, eventually led to an entirely new way of thinking about the sort of universe we live in. Today, at the very least, the discovery of Bell-like influences forces us to give up the Newtonian view that the universe is entirely a mechanistic universe. And I suspect this is only the tip of the iceberg, and that this discovery, like those in the 1600s, will lead to a quite different view of the sort of universe in which we live.
In answering Mermin’s challenge we show that the principle of no preferred reference frame, which is responsible for the mysteries of time dilation and length contraction in special relativity, is also responsible for the mystery of Bell state entanglement in quantum mechanics. Specifically, the conservation of spin angular momentum following from the Bell spin states holds only on average in different reference frames, not on a trial-by-trial basis. Therefore, this “average-only” conservation constitutes an adynamical constraint with no overt evidence for an underlying dynamical mechanism, so we justify it via the principle of no preferred reference frame in direct analogy with the postulates of special relativity. Thus, we see a common theme in both relativistic and non-relativistic modern physics relating the fundamental constants c (the speed of light) and h (Planck’s constant) per adynamical explanation. All this implies that physical reality is based fundamentally on adynamical principles rather than the dynamical, causal mechanisms of Newton’s mechanistic universe.
In this paper, we argue that the mystery of Bell state entanglement should be resolved via principle explanation rather than constructive explanation. Specifically, the principle responsible is "conservation per no preferred reference frame." Thus, the mystery of Bell state entanglement stems from one and the same principle responsible for the mysteries of length contraction and time dilation in special relativity, i.e., no preferred reference frame.
Micheal David Silberstein