Saturday, May 26, 2007

Pursuing the evolution of the philosophy of quantum physics

This post is partly a pursuit of my ongoing interest in the philosophical interpretations of quantum reality, but it's mostly a story of how radically the world is changing. I still remember paging through volumes of the Index Medicus in our library -- a task as far removed from today's world as using a book to look up a logarithm (yes, I learned that too ...).

Recently, when searching for post of mine on a related topic, I came across one from 2004 about a research paper on the "emergence" of consensus reality as a result of multiple observations selecting for a "pointer" (stable) macro state. (Quantum Darwinism.)

It's interesting stuff, but how do I pursue it further? Turns out, it's not so hard.

My blog post pointed to the Nature article. That pointed to a PubMed (med?!) citation, and related articles, including one on quantum coherence in biological systems. (Is the human brain a quantum computer? It's fun to ask such questions, though I suspect it is not.) Note that these PubMed queries have an RSS feed, so I can track activity via Bloglines.

Next I took the title from the PubMed citation and plugged it into Google Scholar; this produces an interesting result set with links to yet more related articles.

Today most of the endpoints are dead-ends (pay-per-view journals), but more and more science is being published in open journals. We're not far from a world in which the queries I did (they took far less time to do than to describe) will end in readable journal articles, such as D Poulin's 2004 Physics thesis. (PDF btw, Google tries to render an HTML version, but it chokes on the equations).

Incidentally, it does appear that realism (observer-independent reality) has joined locality ("things" are bounded by space) in the dustbin of history. Our university is deeply quantum, and the seeming persistence of everyday reality is an emergent result ...

PS. There's a wee bit of whackiness in some of the results I found.

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