Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Quantum Theory and Relativity

There are subtle issues with the compatability of the two workhorse theories of contemporary physics:  special relativity and quantum mechanics.  The EPR paradox from the 1930's (the E stands for Einstein)  and Bell's Theorem from the 1960's are two of the classic examples.  The weight of suspicion often tends to fall on the quantum side.  Einstein, notably unenthusiastic about the fundamental role of probability in quantum mechanics,  believed that "God does not throw dice".  John Bell, when asked if quantum mechanics could be wrong replied, "I hesitated to think it might be wrong;  but I knew it was rotten".  Nonetheless quantum mechanics has turned out to be fantastically accurate and the basis for much our current understanding of matter and radiation - likewise for special relativity.  The preprint Can quantum theory and special relativity peacefully coexist? discusses the issues.

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