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What does the Wave Function Describe?

Physics Departmental Seminar

1-2 November 2000

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Table of Contents

What does the Wave Function Describe?

The success of quantum mechanics!

Features difficult to understand:

What happens after a measurement?

Dynamical Reduction?

Does wave function describe anything?

Form, Substance and Dynamics

Examples of Formal Terms

Examples of Existential Terms

Examples of Dynamical Terms

Summary of the Three Categories

Complete Physical Theory?

New idea: ‘Dynamic substance’

Revisit: Hamiltonian Quantum Mechanics

Measurements are ‘Actual Selections’

‘Nonlocal Hidden Variables’ in ordinary QM:

What does the wavefunction describe?

Wholeness and Non-locality

Multiple Generative Levels

Multiple Generative Levels II: Reality

Principles, Causes and Effects

Potentials from Virtual Particle Exchange

Propensities for Virtual Processes

Virtual ‘Principle ? Cause ? Effect’

Virtual and Actual Events

Complications: are all the stages needed?

A BIGGER Picture?


Author: Ian Thompson,
Department of Physics, University of Surrey


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Author: I.J. Thompson (except as stated)