Reply To: God knows where all the particles are!

Dustin Lazarovici

Dear Miroljub,

I believe the attitude I described has nothing to do with BM, in particular. Every mathematical physicist has to be very selective with the kind of problems he or she choses to work on. (Of course, this applies to every scientist, but to mathematical physics in particular, because the average time you have to invest in one publication is quite long).

You could spend a lifetime on mathematically rigorous treatments of more and more realistic detector models in Bohmian mechanics. Ok, I must admit: the problem is actually somewhat interesting. Maybe someone will pick it up, eventually. There are just more interesting problems out there. (Not to speak of the sociological fact that it sounds like a real career killer for young scientists.)

Anyway, I honestly doubt that Reinhard (or anyone else) would have seriously changed his attitude towards BM if Shelly or Detlef had invested a considerable amount of time to provide a satisfiying answer to his problem. Nevertheless, to the degree that Reinhard’s issues with BM are mathematical, we should be self-critical enough to say: ok, point taken, maybe we could do more and better work in this respect. I just don’t believe that, at its core, the controversy is really about mathematics or the alleged lack thereof.

On a related note: Detlef and Shelly and Travis and others have spent many many years adressing all sorts of questions and objections about Bohmian mechanics. When another paper comes out, claiming to prove that BM is wrong, more often than not someone from the Bohmian community will make the effort to reply and completely eviscerate that argument.

Unfortunately, it’s an empirical fact that no one who is fundamentally opposed to the theory (for whatever reasons) ever changes his mind when you resolve any concrete issue that he claims to have with Bohmian mechanics. This doesn’t mean that one should stop debating or answering serious questions, of course. It just means that there’s no point in jumping on every challenge that someone throws at you.

Best, Dustin

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