Subject: Re: Superpositions of a cat and a dog
Date: Mon, 01 Sep 2003 16:36:40 +0300
From: Dimi Chakalov <>
To: Tony Sudbery <>

RE: Anthony Sudbery (23 October 2000), Diese Verdammte Quantenspringerei, quant-ph/001108, Stud. Hist. Phil. Mod. Phys. 33 (2002), 387-411

Dear Tony,

Thank you for your feedback.

> Thanks for this, Dimi. I must say I don't remember this point
> being in
quant-ph/0011082, but I'll read the paper again!

Your paper is wonderful, any time I read it, I find new stories in it.

p. 2: "But there are no events in quantum theory. (Throughout this paper I will use "event" with its primary English meaning of "happening".)"

p. 3: "The inference that something discontinuous (a transition) happened between time 0 and time t is completely unwarranted."

p. 9: "We are left with a theoretical problem. If we cannot use the notion of "measurement at time t" to explain the meaning of a time-dependent state vector, what can we say that will justify or codify what physicists do with such vectors, and that will predict our experience of quantum jumps?"

Please recall your email of Tue, 3 Jul 2001 17:32:15 +0100 (BST):

> Dear Dimiter,
> I think the solution to this is that the Schrodinger equation does
> _not_ predict superpositions of a live cat and a dead cat. In fact the
> S
equation predicts that we can only observe a live cat or a dead
> cat, not a
superposition. The reason is that the interactions between
> the cat and the
human observer lead, via classical physics which
> we understand pretty
well, to an _entangled_ state of the cat and
> the observer which is a
superposition of a dead cat and an observer
> seeing it dead, plus a live
cat and the observer seeing it live.
>         Tony

Beautiful! Hence the paradox is that we can not, even in principle, enjoy a point-like event, which I interpreted as "smearing" of localization of macro-objects measuring the cat state. The paradox is also called 'macro-objectification',

I believe this paradox is an artifact from the inanimate measuring device: its Holon is vanishing small, can't keep more than one potential state, and hence has to "jump", as explained by Schrödinger back in 1935:

"From the form in which the psi-function was last known, to the new in which it reappears, runs no continuous road -- it ran indeed through annihilation. Contrasting the two forms, the things look like a leap."

I do believe QM is flooded with artifacts,

What do you think?


Dead matter makes quantum jumps; the living-and-quantum matter is smarter.


Note: The measurement (macro-objectification) paradox in QM highlights the difference between the macro-world around us and the quantum realm: two completely different worlds, like apples and oranges. Let me briefly comment on some assumptions involved in this paradox, which lead to serious misconception such as "quantum jumps" and "statistical nature of quantum phenomena". Erwin Schrödinger was sharply against the first notion, and Albert Einstein could never accept the idea that God would play dice: "I am, in fact, (au contraire "of almost all contemporary theoretical physicists") firmly convinced that the essentially statistical character of contemporary quantum theory is solely to be ascribed to the fact that this [theory - D.C.] operates with an incomplete description of physical systems" (Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist, ed. by Paul Arthur Schilpp, The library of living philosophers, vol. VII, Cambridge University Press, 1949, p. 666).

If the ideas presented here are true, there are no "quantum jumps" in the quantum realm but a perfectly smooth, continuous transition from one state to another, since all possible states of a quantum system 'out there' come from their Holon. However, these potential Holon states are UNspeakable. Not surprisingly, an inanimate measuring device can not read these Holon states, they are strictly hidden to it. Hence the only way to respond to its inability to connect to the quantum world is to "jump" from one state to another, wiping out the wave function and providing nothing but probabilities for future outcomes. An inanimate measuring device can "see" either  |dead cat>  or  |live cat> , hence the Holon state of the cat is not, and can not be presented with its 2-D Hilbert space.

Let's take a closer look at the mechanism by which these artifacts of the inanimate measuring devices have been established.

First, we make a completely unwarranted assumption that, prior to the measurement, "the wavefunction of the universe factorizes into the wavefunction of the particle times the wavefunction of the rest of the world", as acknowledged by Angelo Bassi and GianCarlo Ghirardi in quant-ph/0302164. We prepare the quantum system, perform the measurement, say, on Schrödinger's cat, and wind up in a truly paradoxical situation, as explained by Tony Sudbery above: an entangled state of the cat and the observer, which is a superposition of a dead cat and an observer seeing it dead, plus a live cat and the observer seeing it live. There are no boundaries anymore between the observer's brain, the measuring device, the cat, and 'the rest of the universe'.

Surely this is not what we see around us. How can we adjust this paradoxical situation to the world around us and to the fact that the outcome of the measurement yields a point-like value? Some serious intervention 'by hand' is needed.

The line of thought in standard QM is to invoke the projection postulate of von Neumann, introduced ad hoc, and apply the Born rule for calculating probabilities for future outcomes. The first intervention causes "quantum jumps", while the second one creates the impression that quantum phenomena are genuinely statistical. However, there are at least three tacit presumptions here: we believe that the metaphysical notion of 'objective reality out there' is the only viable physical possibility, that the phrase 'time-dependent Schrödinger equation' makes sense, and that the notion of 'probability' derived from the macro-world around us can indeed describe the nature of quantum phenomena.

Then we can never understand QM. Just 'shut up and calculate'. Die gegenwärtige Situation can be illustrated with an old joke.

Three men in a mental clinic, Tom, Dick, and Harry, have to pass a test before their eventual release. The test is very simple: how much is 2 + 2. The doctor asks Tom, and he replies: '11'. 'Are you sure?' 'Of course', says Tom, '2+2 makes 11. What else?' 'Well, you'll have to stay here for another month or two', says the doctor. Same question to Dick. He immediately replies -- 'Tuesday'. 'Are you sure?' 'Of course', says Dick, '2+2 makes Tuesday. What else?' 'Well, you too will have to stay here for another month or two', says the doc. Finally comes Harry. Same question, and he immediately strikes back with '4'. 'Congratulations', says the doc, 'you passed the test and may check out tomorrow. But how did you actually calculate it?' 'Easy', Harry replies, 'I simply divided Tuesday by 11 and got 4. What else?'

Dimi Chakalov
September 1, 2003


See also: Michael Weiss and John Baez, Is Energy Conserved in General Relativity?

"T is called the stress-energy tensor. You don't need to know what that means! -- just that you can integrate T, as shown, to get 4-vectors.

"Indeed, the issue of energy in general relativity has a lot to do with the notorious "problem of time" in quantum gravity. . . but that's another can of worms."