Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The (business) rule of Nature


Guest Post: Terry Rudolph on Nature versus Nurture
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Everyone always wants to know whether the wave function of quantum mechanics is “a real thing” or whether it’s just a tool we use to calculate the probability of measuring a certain outcome. Here at CV, we even hosted a give-and-take on the issue between instrumentalist Tom Banks and realist David Wallace. In the latter post, I linked to recent preprint on the issue that proved a very interesting theorem, seemingly boosting the “wave functions are real” side of the debate.

That preprint was submitted to Nature, but never made it in (although it did ultimately get published in Nature Physics). The story of why such an important result was shunted away from the journal to which it was first submitted (just like Peter Higgs’s paper where he first mentioned the Higgs boson!) is interesting in its own right. Here is that story, as told by Terry Rudolph, an author of the original paper. Terry is a theoretical physicist at Imperial College London, who “will  work on anything that has the word `quantum’ in front of it.” (continue to read on Cosmic Variance) .                                                                                                                                         
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