The So-Called Measurement Problem

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Is a photon a wave or a particle?

What is it about measurement that seems to cause a wave function to collapse into a definite state?

The measurement problem is a scientific dilemma referring to the difficulties that hinder attempts at relating classical physics with quantum mechanics. Specifically, the problem asks how actual things relate to their possibilities. Ultimately, this problem is concerned with the way in which quantum both/and states interact with classical either/or states of existence.


· Complementarity makes certain contradictory opposites mutually exclusive of one another. Since certain aspects of the universe are verifiably interrelated in this way, the principle of complementarity states that each description excludes the other, but both are necessary. Based on this interpretation, potential and actual states simply complement each other. This kind of relationship has been found to exist between things like momentum and position or time and energy.

· Since anything described by the Schrodinger wave equation must exist in a state of superposed possibilities, everything including measuring devices is in a state of superposition. This interpretation seems to indicate the presence of some non-reductive metaphysical agent that is needed to bring about the collapse of the wave function.


· According to hidden-variables theories, every quantum particle is guided by a field of potentiality. As a result of this, quantum effects like indeterminacy, wave particle duality, and superposition are the result of underlying causal factors that deny that the specification of a system given by a state described by a particular set of assumptions is a complete specification. As an example, certain hidden-variables theories postulate parameters that can affect different parts of a physical system in arbitrarily distant regions of space-time simultaneously.

However, of these, non-local hidden variables appear to be the only type of hidden-variables theories not ruled out by Bell’s theorem. In this way, it can be shown that correlated events do not have to be related by a chain of causation, and this does seem to reasonably suggest the possibility and plausibility of hidden variables associated with non-local phenomena.

· According to the many-worlds theories, the superpositions of the quantum world are real and remain real all of the time. Based on this assumption, every time a measurement is made it creates another possible direction that one of the possibilities might take as the world branches off into a reality that consists of an infinite number of constantly branching worlds.

Based on the known parameters of this so-called problem, it may be necessary to appropriately alter Schrödinger’s wave equation so that it describes a nonlinear process whereby quantum potentiality somehow becomes classical actuality as a result of the interaction of a wave function and a measuring device. However, given the rampant inexplicable dualities found in quantum systems, the Copenhagen interpretation given by Bohr in the first approach listed above seems far more reasonable than any other explanation.

Written by

An Autodidact Polymath

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