QR3.9.3 The Quantum Paradox

The tradition of objective reality began with Aristotle’s view that:

… the world consists of a multitude of single things (substances), each of them characterized by intrinsic properties …(Audretsch, 2004) p274

Two thousand years later, this vision of a world of substantial things that cause all effects still dominates thought. So why doesn’t physics apply this doctrine to quantum theory?

… why not simply accept the reality of the wave function? (Zeh, 2004) p8

The problem is that quantum theory:

“… paints a picture of the world that is less objectively real than we usually believe it to be.” (Walker, 2000) p72.

And if one accepts one thing that isn’t “objectively real”, where will it end?

… if we are to take y [the quantum field] as providing a picture of reality, then we must take these jumps as physically real occurrences too…(Penrose, 1994) p331

Schrödinger tried to explain quantum theory in physical terms but failed, as have all who have tried since. Quantum theory describes what isn’t physically possible as quantum states that disappear at will ignore physical permanence; entangled effects that occur instantly over any distance ignore the speed of light limit; and superposed states that co-exist in physically opposite ways ignore physical incompatibility. The world that quantum theory describes can’t possibly be physical. A quantum wave can spread across a galaxy then instantly collapse to a point but:

How can something real disappear instantaneously?(Barbour, 1999) p200

When Pauli and Born defined the quantum amplitude as the probability of physical existence, physics ceased to be about anything physical at all:

For the first time in physics, we have an equation that allows us to describe the behavior of objects in the universe with astounding accuracy, but for which one of the mathematical objects of the theory, the quantum field y, apparently does not correspond to any known physical quantity.(Oerter, 2006) p89

Physical realism can’t support a theory that what is unreal can generate what is real. The quantum paradox is that if quantum unreality causes physical reality, then:

Can something that affects real events … itself be unreal?(Zeh, 2004) p4.

For over a century, physics has faced the quantum paradox like a deer in headlights, attracted by the quantum brilliance but afraid to abandon its traditional stance of physical realism.

Figure 3.26. A paradox

Paradoxes only go away when false assumptions are exposed, e.g. Figure 3.26 has two square and three round prongs depending on where you look, which is impossible. The answer isn’t some mystical “square-round duality” but to see that one line can’t bound both a square prong and a round one at the same time. Likewise, the quantum paradox arises from the false assumption of physical realism. When Penrose asks:

How, indeed, can real objects be constituted from unreal components?(Penrose, 1994) p313

the honest answer is that they can’t. One might equally ask “How can a purely physical world have random events?” or “How can a complete physical universe begin?” A physics based on illogic builds paradox into its foundations and to do this is to institutionalize illogic. This is not science. The logical way forward is to accept that quantum reality creates physical unreality based on the facts of physics.