Afternoon Science Foray - Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics

Bristol Science Cafe
Bristol Science Cafe
Public group
Location image of event venue


The idea of this event is for a group of scientifically informed or interested people to get together - without any of them necessarily being a specialist - to discuss the various 'interpretations' of quantum mechanics which have been proposed (Copenhagen interpretation, many-worlds interpretation, etc.). It is intended to avoid maths totally if possible - partly by modelling the discussion on that given in John Gribbin's recent book Six Impossible Things. The discussion may well start from the question of just what we mean by an 'interpretation' in this context.

I'll be posting some relevant links and other materials here in good time for the event.

In essence, quantum mechanics is a mathematical formalism which makes accurate predictions about physical processes occuring at the scale of atoms, nuclei and fundamental particles. Because it is 'just' a mathematical formalism it (arguably) give no explanation of what nature is actually doing in the processes it makes predictions about. For that reason, people have struggled for about a century to devise interpretations which fill in that gap and provide a humanly-graspable picture of just what nature is doing. I believe that the half-dozen or so leading proposed interpretations can be explained and discussed (at least at the level of a two-hour discussion) is essentially non-mathematical terms.

The venue is the cafe at Illustrated on Park Street. It would help maintain the goodwill of the people at Illustrate if those attending would think about buying a coffee or a piece of cake.

Here are some relevant books containing little or no maths - all available from Amazon:

Gribbin, John, Six Impossible Things, Icon Books, 2019 (referred to above).

Ananthaswamy, Anil, Through Two Doors at Once - The Elegant Experiment That Captures the Enigma of Our Quantum Reality, Dutton, 2018.

Lindley, David, Where Does the Weirdness Go?, BasicBooks, 1996.

Gilmore, Robert, Alice in Quantum Land, Sigma Press, 1994.

Davies, P. C. W., The Ghost in the Atom, CUP, 1986.

Baggott, Jim, The Quantum Story, OUP, 2011.

Aczel, Amir, Entanglement, John Wiley, 2003.

Here are some links to apparently relevant YouTube links. The first and last of these appear to be the most relevant: