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Steven Weinberg On The Future of Quantum Mechanics

Steven Weinberg On The Future of Quantum Mechanics

Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate and a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin, recently discussed some of his concerns about the use and interpretation of quantum mechanics at a gathering of science communicators hosted by the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW).

Quantum mechanics is irrefutably the greatest mathematical model yet of particle interactions in our world, and remains one of the main tools of modern physics. However, despite its mathematical accuracy, there is a concern in the world of physics of how to interpret this model of the world -- although incredibly accurate, does quantum mechanics actually provide the best theoretical framework in which to think about the physical world?

Weinberg tackled this question this October in a keynote address at the New Horizons in Science Meeting hosted by the CASW. Weinberg contrasted the view that the current mathematical theory of quantum mechanics is simply a nice computational tool and the opposing view that quantum mechanics' mathematical tools actually correspond to a counterintuitive, yet true physical reality. Both views are equally unsatisfying to Weinberg, who posits that they point towards the need for some deeper theory.

Not unaware of the historical context of this question, Weinberg was also careful to caution that, as has often happened in the history of physics, holding new theories which accurately describe the world to some presupposed philosophical standards can be harmful, since oftentimes these theories become absolutely essential tools for our physical understanding.

To read about the full discussion at the October writer's session click below:

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Friday, 17 September 2021

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