This is a list of this week’s papers on quantum foundations published in the various journals or uploaded to the preprint servers such as arxiv.org and PhilSci Archive.

Gravitational Waves and Perspectives for Quantum Gravity. (arXiv:1410.2581v1 [gr-qc])

on 2014-10-10 2:16am GMT

Understanding the role of higher derivatives is probably one of the most relevant questions in quantum gravity theory. Already at the semiclassical level, when gravity is a classical background for quantum matter fields, the action of gravity should include fourth derivative terms to provide renormalizability in the vacuum sector. The same situation holds in the quantum theory of metric. At the same time, including the fourth derivative terms means the presence of massive ghosts, which are gauge-independent massive states with negative kinetic energy. At both classical and quantum level such ghosts violate stability and hence the theory becomes inconsistent. Several approaches to solve this contradiction were invented and we are proposing one more, which looks simpler than those what were considered before. We explore the dynamics of the gravitational waves on the background of classical solutions and give certain arguments that massive ghosts produce instability only when they are present as physical particles. At least on the cosmological background one can observe that if the initial frequency of the metric perturbations is much smaller than the mass of the ghost, no instabilities are present.

Many-Measurements or Many-Worlds? A Dialogue. (arXiv:1406.0620v3 [quant-ph] UPDATED)

physics.hist-ph updates on arXiv.org

on 2014-10-10 2:16am GMT

Many advocates of the Everettian interpretation consider that theirs is the only approach to take quantum mechanics really seriously, and that this approach allows to deduce a fantastic scenario for our reality, one that consists of an infinite number of parallel worlds that branch out continuously. In this article, written in dialogue form, we suggest that quantum mechanics can be taken even more seriously, if the ‘many-worlds’ view is replaced by a ‘many-measurements’ view. This allows not only to derive the Born rule, thus solving the measurement problem, but also to deduce a one-world ‘non-spatial’ reality, providing an even more fantastic scenario than that of the multiverse.

The Instability of a Quantum Superposition of Time Dilations. (arXiv:1410.2303v1 [quant-ph])

on 2014-10-10 2:16am GMT

Using the relativistic concept of time dilation we show that a superposition of gravitational potentials can lead to nonunitary time evolution. For sufficiently weak gravitational potentials one can still define, for all intents and purposes, a global coordinate system. A probe particle in a superposition of weak gravitational fields will, however, experience dephasing due to the different time dilations. The corresponding instability timescale is accessible to experiments, and can be used as a degree of macroscopicity. Finally, we suggest an experiment with smoothly tunable amplification in a microwave interferometer that allows a quantitative study of the quantum to classical boundary.

on 2014-10-10 2:16am GMT

A generalized Bloch sphere, in which the states of a quantum entity of arbitrary dimension are geometrically represented, is investigated and further extended, to also incorporate the measurements. This extended representation constitutes a general solution to the measurement problem, inasmuch it allows to derive the Born rule as an average over hidden-variables, describing not the state of the quantum entity, but its interaction with the measuring system. According to this modelization, a quantum measurement is to be understood, in general, as a tripartite process, formed by an initial deterministic decoherence-like process, a subsequent indeterministic collapse-like process, and a final deterministic purification-like process. We also show that quantum probabilities can be generally interpreted as the probabilities of a first-order non-classical theory, describing situations of maximal lack of knowledge regarding the process of actualization of potential interactions, during a measurement.

Treating time travel quantum mechanically

on 2014-10-09 2:00pm GMT

Author(s): John-Mark A. Allen

The fact that closed timelike curves (CTCs) are permitted by general relativity raises the question as to how quantum systems behave when time travel to the past occurs. Research into answering this question by utilizing the quantum circuit formalism has given rise to two theories: Deutschian-CTCs (…

[Phys. Rev. A 90, 042107] Published Thu Oct 09, 2014

John Bell’s varying interpretations of quantum mechanics. (arXiv:1402.5498v6 [quant-ph] UPDATED)

on 2014-10-09 1:27am GMT

Various interpretations of quantum mechanics, favored (or neglected) by John Bell in the context of his non-locality theorem, are compared and discussed.

on 2014-10-09 1:27am GMT

Interferometry with massive particles may have the potential to explore the limitations of standard quantum mechanics in particular where it concerns its boundary with general relativity and the yet to be developed theory of quantum gravity. This development is hindered considerably by the lack of experimental evidence and testable predictions. Analyzing effects that appear to be common to many of such theories, such as a modification of the energy dispersion and of the canonical commutation relation within the standard framework of quantum mechanics, has been proposed as a possible way forward. Here we analyze in some detail the impact of a modified energy-momentum dispersion in a Ramsey-Bord\’e setup and provide achievable bounds of these correcting terms when operating such an interferometer with nanodiamonds. Thus, taking thermal and gravitational disturbances into account will show that without specific prerequisites, quantum gravity modifications may in general be suppressed requiring a revision of previously estimated bounds. As a possible solution we propose a stable setup that is rather insensitive to these effects. Finally, we address the problems of decoherence and pulse errors in such setups and discuss the scalings and advantages with increasing particle mass.

The strange (hi)story of particles and waves. (arXiv:1304.1003v10 [physics.hist-ph] UPDATED)

physics.hist-ph updates on arXiv.org

on 2014-10-09 1:27am GMT

Attempt of a non-technical but conceptually consistent presentation of modern quantum theory in a historical context. While the first part is written for a general readership, Sect. 5 may appear provocative. I argue that the single-particle wave functions of quantum mechanics have to be correctly interpreted as field modes that are “occupied once” (first excited states of the corresponding quantum oscillators in the case of a boson field). Multiple excitations lead to apparent many-particle wave functions, while the quantum state proper would be defined by a wave function(al) on the “configuration” space of certain fundamental fields or on another, as yet elusive, fundamental basis. Chpts. 1 and 2 are meant as a brief overview of the early history – though neglecting many important details. Chpts. 3 and 4 concentrate on some (in my opinion) essential properties of non-relativistic quantum mechanics that are often insufficiently pointed out in textbooks. Chpt. 5 describes how this formalism would have to be generalized into its relativistic form (QFT), although this program mostly fails in practice for interacting fields because of the complicated entanglement arising between too many degrees of freedom. This may explain why QFT is usually understood as a semi-phenomenological (apparently new) theory. Chpt. 6 describes the further generalization of the Schr\”odinger picture to quantum gravity and quantum cosmology, while Chpt. 7 concludes the paper.

Bohm’s “quantum potential” can be considered falsified by experiment. (arXiv:1410.2014v1 [quant-ph])

on 2014-10-09 1:27am GMT

A Michelson-Morley-type experiment is described, which exploits two-photon interference between entangled photons instead of classical light interference. In this experimental context, the negative result (no shift in the detection rates) rules out David Bohm’s postulate of an infinite-speed time-ordered “quantum potential”, and thereby upholds the timeless standard quantum collapse.

Structural realism and the nature of structure

Latest Results for European Journal for Philosophy of Science

on 2014-10-09 12:00am GMT

Abstract

Ontic Structural Realism is a version of realism about science according to which by positing the existence of structures, understood as basic components of reality, one can resolve central difficulties faced by standard versions of scientific realism. Structures are invoked to respond to two important challenges: one posed by the pessimist meta-induction and the other by the underdetermination of metaphysics by physics, which arises in non-relativistic quantum mechanics. We argue that difficulties in the proper understanding of what a structure is undermines the realist component of the view. Given the difficulties, either realism should be dropped or additional metaphysical components not fully endorsed by science should be incorporated.

Berry phase and quantum structure

on 2014-10-08 9:28pm GMT

Publication date: November 2014

**Source:**Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, Volume 48, Part A

Author(s): Holger Lyre

The paper aims to spell out the relevance of the Berry phase in view of the question what the minimal mathematical structure is that accounts for all observable quantum phenomena. The question is both of conceptual and of ontological interest. While common wisdom tells us that the quantum structure is represented by the structure of the projective Hilbert space, the appropriate structure rich enough to account for the Berry phase is the U(1) bundle over that projective space. The Berry phase is ultimately rooted in the curvature of this quantum bundle, it cannot be traced back to the Hamiltonian dynamics alone. This motivates the ontological claim in the final part of the paper that, if one strives for a realistic understanding of quantum theory including the Berry phase, one should adopt a form of ontic structural realism.

on 2014-10-08 1:10am GMT

The emergence of the seeds of cosmic structure, from a perfect isotropic and homogeneous Universe, has not been clearly explained by the standard version of inflationary models as the dynamics involved preserve the homogeneity and isotropy at all times. A proposal that attempts to deal with this problem, by introducing “the self-induced collapse hypothesis,” has been introduced by D. Sudarsky and collaborators in previous papers. In all these works, the collapse of the wave function of the inflaton mode is restricted to occur during the inflationary period. In this paper, we analyse the possibility that the collapse happens during the radiation era. A viable model can be constructed under the condition that the inflaton field variable must be affected by the collapse while the momentum variable can or cannot be affected. Another condition to be fulfilled is that the time of collapse must be independent of $k$. However, when comparing with recent observational data, the predictions of the model cannot be distinguished from the ones provided by the standard inflationary scenario. The main reason for this arises from the requirement that primordial power spectrum obtained for the radiation era matches the amplitude of scalar fluctuations consistent with the latest CMB observations. This latter constraint results in a limit on the possible times of collapse and ensures that the contribution of the inflaton field to the energy-momentum tensor is negligible compared to the contribution of the radiation fields.

Loop quantum gravity and observations. (arXiv:1410.1714v1 [gr-qc])

on 2014-10-08 1:10am GMT

Quantum gravity has long been thought to be completely decoupled from experiments or observations. Although it is true that smoking guns are still missing, there are now serious hopes that quantum gravity phenomena might be tested. We review here some possible ways to observe loop quantum gravity effects either in the framework of cosmology or in astroparticle physics.

Curved spacetimes in the lab. (arXiv:1410.1567v1 [quant-ph])

on 2014-10-08 1:10am GMT

We present some new ideas on how to design analogue models of quantum fields living in curved spacetimes using ultra-cold atoms in optical lattices. We discuss various types of static and dynamical curved spacetimes achievable by simple manipulations of the optical setup. Examples presented here contain two-dimensional spaces of positive and negative curvature as well as homogeneous cosmological models and metric waves. Most of them are extendable to three spatial dimensions. We mention some interesting phenomena of quantum field theory in curved spacetimes which might be simulated in such optical lattices loaded with bosonic or fermionic ultra-cold atoms. We also argue that methods of differential geometry can be used, as an alternative mathematical approach, for dealing with realistic inhomogeneous optical lattices.

A hidden-variables version of Gisin’s theorem. (arXiv:1410.1702v1 [quant-ph])

on 2014-10-08 1:10am GMT

It is generally assumed that {\em local realism} represented by a noncontextual and local hidden-variables model in $d=4$ such as the one used by Bell always gives rise to CHSH inequality $|\langle B\rangle|\leq 2$. On the other hand, the contraposition of Gisin’s theorem states that the inequality $|\langle B\rangle|\leq 2$ for arbitrary parameters implies (pure) separable quantum states. The fact that local realism can describe only pure separable quantum states is naturally established in hidden-variables models, and it is quantified by $G({\bf a},{\bf b})= 4[\langle \psi|P({\bf a})\otimes P({\bf b})|\psi\rangle-\langle \psi|P({\bf a})\otimes{\bf 1}|\psi\rangle\langle \psi|{\bf 1}\otimes P({\bf b})|\psi\rangle]=0$ for any two projection operators $P({\bf a})$ and $P({\bf b})$. The test of local realism by the deviation of $G({\bf a},{\bf b})$ from $G({\bf a},{\bf b})=0$ is shown to be very efficient using the past experimental setup of Aspect and his collaborators in 1981.

Ontological Models, Preparation Contextuality and Nonlocality

Latest Results for Foundations of Physics

on 2014-10-08 12:00am GMT

Abstract

The ontological model framework for an operational theory has generated much interest in recent years. The debate concerning reality of quantum states has been made more precise in this framework. With the introduction of generalized notion of contextuality in this framework, it has been shown that completely mixed state of a qubit is*preparation contextual*. Interestingly, this new idea of preparation contextuality has been used to demonstrate nonlocality of some \(\psi \) -epistemic models without any use of Bell’s inequality. In particular, nonlocality of a non maximally \(\psi \) -epistemic model has been demonstrated from preparation contextuality of a maximally mixed qubit and Schrödinger’s steerability of the maximally entangled state of two qubits (Leifer and Maroney, Phys Rev Lett 110:120401, 2013). In this paper, we, show that any mixed state is preparation contextual. We, then, show that nonlocality of any bipartite pure entangled state, with Schmidt rank two, follows from preparation contextuality and steerability provided we impose certain condition on the epistemicity of the underlying ontological model. More interestingly, if the pure entangled state is of Schmidt rank greater than two, its nonlocality follows without any further condition on the epistemicity. Thus our result establishes a stronger connection between nonlocality and preparation contextuality by revealing nonlocality of any bipartite pure entangled states without any use of Bell-type inequality.

on 2014-10-07 5:27am GMT

We employ the recently proposed formalism of the “horizon wave-function” to investigate the emergence of a horizon in models of black holes as Bose-Einstein condensates of gravitons. We start from the Klein-Gordon equation for a massless scalar (toy graviton) field coupled to a static matter current. The (spherically symmetric) classical field reproduces the Newtonian potential generated by the matter source, and the corresponding quantum state is given by a coherent superposition of scalar modes with continuous occupation number. Assuming an attractive self-interaction that allows for bound states, one finds that (approximately) only one mode is allowed, and the system can be confined in a region of the size of the Schwarzschild radius. This radius is then shown to correspond to a proper horizon, by means of the horizon wave-function of the quantum system, with an uncertainty in size naturally related to the expected typical energy of Hawking modes. In particular, this uncertainty decreases for larger black hole mass (with larger number of light scalar quanta), in agreement with semiclassical expectations, a result which does not hold for a single very massive particle. We finally speculate that a phase transition should occur during the gravitational collapse of a star, ideally represented by a static matter current and Newtonian potential, that leads to a black hole, again ideally represented by the condensate of toy gravitons, and suggest an effective order parameter that could be used to investigate this transition.

Weak Values are Interference Phenomena. (arXiv:1410.0943v1 [quant-ph])

on 2014-10-06 1:58am GMT

Weak values arise experimentally as conditioned averages of noisy observable measurements that minimally disturb an initial quantum state. These averages can exceed the eigenvalue range of the observable ostensibly being measured, which has prompted considerable debate regarding their interpretation. Classical conditioned averages of noisy signals only show such anomalies if the quantity being measured is also disturbed. This fact has recently been rediscovered, along with the question whether anomalous weak values are merely classical disturbance effects. Here we carefully review the role of the weak value as a conditioned observable estimation, and clarify why classical disturbance is insufficient to explain the weak value unless it can simulate quantum interference. Anomalous weak values are intrinsically interference phenomena, which is why they also appear in classical field theories (where the anomalous values have physical meaning).

No quantum realization of extremal no-signaling boxes. (arXiv:1410.0947v1 [quant-ph])

on 2014-10-06 1:58am GMT

Pure states are very important in any theory since they represent states of maximal information about the system within the theory. Here, we show that no non-trivial (not local realistic) extremal states (boxes) of general no-signaling theories can be realized within quantum theory. We then explore three interesting consequences of this fact. Firstly, since the pure states are uncorrelated from the environment, the statement forms a no-go result against the most straightforward device-independent protocol for randomness or secure key generation against general no-signaling adversaries. It also leads to the interesting question whether all non-extremal boxes allow for non-local correlations with the adversary. Secondly, in addition to the fact that new information-theoretic principles (designed to pick out the set of quantum correlations from among all non signaling ones) can in consequence be tested on arbitrary non-local vertices to check their validity, it also allows the possibility of excluding from the quantum set any box of no-signaling correlations that can be distilled to a non-local vertex. Finally, it also forms a sufficient condition to identify non-local games with no quantum winning strategy, when one can show that the game has a single unique non-signaling winning strategy. We illustrate each of these consequences with the example of generalized Popescu-Rohrlich boxes.

A Quantum Theory of Angle and Relative Phase Measurement. (arXiv:1410.0916v1 [quant-ph])

on 2014-10-06 1:58am GMT

The complementarity between time and energy, as well as between an angle and a component of angular momentum, is described at three different layers of understanding. The phenomena of super-resolution are readily apparent in the quantum phase representation which also reveals that entanglement is not required. We modify Schwinger’s harmonic oscillator model of angular momentum to include the case of photons. Therein the quantum angle measurement is shown to be equivalent to the measurement of the relative phase between the two oscillators. Two reasonable ways of dealing with degeneracy are shown to correspond to: a conditional measurement which takes a snapshot in absolute time (corresponding to adding probability amplitudes); and a marginal measurement which takes an average in absolute time (corresponding to adding probabilities). The sense in which distinguishability is a “matter of how long we look” is discussed and the meaning of the general theory is illustrated by taking the two oscillators to be circularly polarized photons. It is shown that an odd number of x-polarized photons will never have an angle in correspondence with the y-axis; but an even number of x-polarized photons always can! The behavior of an x-polarized coherent state is examined and the snapshot angular distributions are seen to evolve into two counter-rotating peaks resulting in considerable correspondence with the y-axis at the time for which a classical linear polarization vector would shrink to zero length. We also demonstrate how the probability distribution of absolute time (herein a measurable quantity, rather than just a parameter) has an influence on how these snapshot angular distributions evolve into a quantum version of the polarization ellipse.

Weak Value and the Wave-Particle Duality. (arXiv:1410.0787v1 [quant-ph])

on 2014-10-06 1:58am GMT

The weak value, introduced by Aharonov et al. to extend the conventional scope of physical observables in quantum mechanics, is an intriguing concept which sheds new light on quantum foundations and is also useful for precision measurement, but it poses serious questions on its physical meaning due to the unconventional features including the complexity of its value. In this paper we point out that the weak value has a direct connection with the wave-particle duality, in the sense that the wave nature manifests itself in the imaginary part while the particle nature in the real part. This is illustrated by the double slit experiment, where we argue, with no conflict with complementarity, that the trajectory of the particle can be inferred based on the weak value without destroying the interference.

Reply to Fleming: Symmetries, observables, and the occurrence of events

on 2014-10-05 9:23pm GMT

Publication date: Available online 5 October 2014

**Source:**Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics

Author(s): Thomas Pashby

In this article I reply to Fleming׳s response to my ‘Time and quantum theory: a history and a prospectus.’ I take issue with two of his claims: (i) that quantum theory concerns the (potential) properties of eternally persisting objects; (ii) that there is an underdetermination problem for Positive Operator Valued Measures (POVMs). I advocate an event-first view which regards the probabilities supplied by quantum theory as probabilities for the occurrence of physical events rather than the possession of properties by persisting objects.