Thursday, June 25, 2009

Valentini's Critique of Quantum Theory

Is Quantum Mechanics Tried, True, Wildly Successful, and Wrong?
A skeptical physicist charges that his field has been wandering in a philosophical wilderness for 80 years. The good news: He thinks he knows the way out.

Many of Antony Valentini's other papers can also be found at arXiv by clicking on the author's name in this link: Quantum Theory at the Crossroads: Reconsidering the 1927 Solvay Conference
We reconsider the crucial 1927 Solvay conference in the context of current research in the foundations of quantum theory. Contrary to folklore, the interpretation question was not settled at this conference and no consensus was reached; instead, a range of sharply conflicting views were presented and extensively discussed. Today, there is no longer an established or dominant interpretation of quantum theory, so it is important to re-evaluate the historical sources and keep the interpretation debate open. In this spirit, we provide a complete English translation of the original proceedings (lectures and discussions), and give background essays on the three main interpretations presented: de Broglie's pilot-wave theory, Born and Heisenberg's quantum mechanics, and Schroedinger's wave mechanics. We provide an extensive analysis of the lectures and discussions that took place, in the light of current debates about the meaning of quantum theory. The proceedings contain much unexpected material, including extensive discussions of de Broglie's pilot-wave theory (which de Broglie presented for a many-body system), and a "quantum mechanics" apparently lacking in wave function collapse or fundamental time evolution. We hope that the book will contribute to the ongoing revival of research in quantum foundations, as well as stimulate a reconsideration of the historical development of quantum physics. A more detailed description of the book may be found in the Preface. (Copyright by Cambridge University Press (ISBN: 9780521814218), expected publication date 2007.)

Cosmic Reionization

Computer Simulations of Cosmic Reionization
The cosmic reionization of hydrogen was the last major phase transition in the evolution of the universe, which drastically changed the ionization and thermal conditions in the cosmic gas. To the best of our knowledge today, this process was driven by the ultra-violet radiation from young, star-forming galaxies and from first quasars. We review the current observational constraints on cosmic reionization, as well as the dominant physical effects that control the ionization of intergalactic gas. We then focus on numerical modeling of this process with computer simulations. Over the past decade, significant progress has been made in solving the radiative transfer of ionizing photons from many sources through the highly inhomogeneous distribution of cosmic gas in the expanding universe. With modern simulations, we have finally converged on a general picture for the reionization process, but many unsolved problems still remain in this young and exciting field of numerical cosmology.