- This month’s Physics Today has a long article by Wojciech Zurek, Quantum Darwinism, classical reality, and the randomness of quantum jumps. I’m not sure if there’s anything new there, but it’s a very clear exposition of what seems to me the most penetrating point of view on the measurement problem in quantum mechanics, one that gets far too little attention in the press.
I’d like to know what this makes me in terms of various ideologies of the interpretation of QM. Am I a quantum Darwinist, or maybe a Zurekian?
- At another extreme, getting lots of media attention while not saying anything substantive, there’s the multiverse of the Many Worlds interpretation. The media campaign to promote this is still in high gear. Recent examples include Brian Cox: ‘Multiverse’ makes sense at BBC News, this week’s New Scientist, which has a bunch of things including Multiverse me: Should I care about my other selves?, and an upcoming program here in New York that tells us that:
We may live in a multiverse in which every possibility happens and with each new possibility the universe branches off into another of many worlds.
The New Scientist article has Don Page pointing out that this explains the problem of evil. God likes the idea of everything possible happening all the time so much he’d rather not be bothered to stop bad things from happening:
“God has values,” he says. “He wants us to enjoy life, but he also wants to create an elegant universe.” To God the importance of elegance comes before that of suffering, which, Page infers, is why bad things happen. “God won’t collapse the wave function to cure people of cancer, or prevent earthquakes or whatever, because that would make the universe much more inelegant.”
For Page, that is an intellectually satisfying solution to the problem of evil. And what’s more, many worlds may even take care of free will. Page doesn’t actually believe we have free will, because he feels we live in a reality in which God determines everything, so it is impossible for humans to act independently. But in the many-worlds interpretation every possible action is actually taken. “It doesn’t mean that it’s fixed that I do one particular course of action. In the multiverse, I’m doing all of them,” says Page.
- On the math front, I just noticed that Pieter Belmans has a blog. One of the many nice things there is his “atlas” for Spec Z[x].
- Over at Persiflage, anyone interested in how NSF grant applications in mathematics are evaluated can find an extensive and well-informed discussion.
- Videos from last week’s Heidelberg Laureate Forum (which features Fields Medalists and others) are available here.
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