Philip Anderson has a piece in the latest Nature entitled Thinking Big. It’s about the interpretation of quantum mechanics, and in it he claims that Fritz London was the first one to really have the right idea about the problem. Commenting on the Bohr-Einstein debates on the subject, Anderson says “In reading about these debates I have the sensation of being a small boy who spots not one, but two undressed emperors.” Instead of the Bohr or Einstein positions, Anderson promotes a point of view he attributes to London, who wrote a paper about it in 1939 with Edmond Bauer. He says “Taking London’s point of view, one immediately begins to realize that the real problem of quantum measurement is not in understanding the simple electron being measured, but the large and complicated apparatus used to measure it” and that “The message is that what is needed is an understanding of the macroscopic world in terms of quantum mechanics.”
I take Anderson’s point to be that the classical physics of a measuring apparatus is an “emergent phenomenon”, and understanding this is the real problem of interpreting quantum mechanics. He ends with his favorite slogan: “more is different!”.
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