http://arxiv.org/abs/1509.04711

Interpretations of quantum theory: A map of madness

Adán Cabello

(Submitted on 15 Sep 2015)

Motivated by some recent news, a journalist asks a group of physicists: "What's the meaning of the violation of Bell's inequality?" One physicist answers: "It means that non-locality is an established fact". Another says: "There is no non-locality; the message is that measurement outcomes are irreducibly random". A third one says: "It cannot be answered simply on purely physical grounds, the answer requires an act of metaphysical judgement". Puzzled by the answers, the journalist keeps asking questions about quantum theory: "What is teleported in quantum teleportation?" "How does a quantum computer really work?" Shockingly, for each of these questions, the journalist obtains a variety of answers which, in many cases, are mutually exclusive. At the end of the day, the journalist asks: "How do you plan to make progress if, after 90 years of quantum theory, you still don't know what it means? How can you possibly identify the physical principles of quantum theory or expand quantum theory into gravity if you don't agree on what quantum theory is about?" Here we argue that it is becoming urgent to solve this too long lasting problem. For that, we point out that the interpretations of quantum theory are, essentially, of two types and that these two types are so radically different that there must be experiments that, when analyzed outside the framework of quantum theory, lead to different empirically testable predictions. Arguably, even if these experiments do not end the discussion, they will add new elements to the list of strange properties that some interpretations must have, therefore they will indirectly support those interpretations that do not need to have all these strange properties.

3 pages, 1 table.

http://arxiv.org/abs/1509.03641

Thermodynamical cost of some interpretations of quantum theory

Adán Cabello, Mile Gu, Otfried Gühne, Jan-Åke Larsson, Karoline Wiesner

(Submitted on 11 Sep 2015)

The interpretation of quantum theory is one of the longest-standing debates in physics. Type-I interpretations see quantum probabilities as determined by intrinsic properties of the world. Type-II interpretations see quantum probabilities as not directly dealing with intrinsic properties of the world but with relational experiences between an observer and the world. It is usually believed that deciding between these two types cannot be made simply on purely physical grounds but it requires an act of metaphysical judgement. Here we show that, although the problem is undecidable within the framework of quantum theory, it is decidable, under some assumptions, within the framework of thermodynamics. We prove that type-I interpretations are incompatible with the following assumptions: (i) the decision of which measurement is performed on a quantum system can be made independently of the system, (ii) a quantum system has limited memory, and (iii) Landauer's principle is valid. We consider an ideal experiment in which an individual quantum system is submitted to a sequence of quantum projective measurements that leave the system in pure quantum states. We show that in any type-I interpretation satisfying (i)-(iii) the system must reset its internal state, which implies that a minimum amount of heat per measurement has to be dissipated into the system's environment. We calculate a lower bound to the heat dissipated per measurement assuming that the measurements are chosen from a set of size 2

^{n}. Then, we show that this lower bound becomes infinite in the limit of n tending to infinity. This leads to the conclusion that either type-I interpretations are untenable or at least one of the assumptions (i)-(iii) has to be abandoned.

5 pages, 1 figure