This is short review of the The Unsolved Puzzle by Jonathan Kerr.
After more than a 100 years of quantum mechanics, there remains a debate of how to interpret it. Nobody disagrees that the mathematics describing experimental behavior are correct, the problem is understanding what the mathematics is telling us about reality. Wikipedia has an entire entry dedicated to the variations of interpretations.
So I was interested when I caught reference to a new interpretation that claimed to resolve the mysteries.
I’m not sure exactly what to make of this interpretation, but it actually makes a lot of sense, even common sense, to me. Whether it is exactly new might be a question.
The developer of this new approach is Jonathan Kerr. I can’t tell if he is actually a physicist in the sense of someone with a degree who actually works in the area. His book looks like something self-published. On the other hand, he has some movies which explain his ideas which include interviews with Carlo Rovelli and Neil Turok who are recognized physicists.
His book is amazingly readable, almost a page-turner. It is relatively short with short chapters. It has no equations so no mathematics are required. It reads a little like a detective story with some historical background and some personal history along the way about various dead ends in his thoughts on quantum mechanics before he reached his current understanding of the puzzle.
Kerr’s interpretation he calls dimensional quantum mechanics. It seems very similar to Rovelli’s relational quantum mechanics. So similar, from what I understand, that I am not exactly sure it is substantially different.
There is no woo in the theory. No consciousness is required. The theory is exactly the opposite of that. The whole “observer” thing is a red herring. An observer, as the term as used by ordinary people, isn’t required. Measurement per se isn’t required. The wave collapses to a particle because it interacts with matter. That’s it. It doesn’t matter whether a consciousness observes it or not. It happens whether we look or not. Measurement in a laboratory isn’t anything other than causing the wave to interact with something. Measurement is a subset of interactions.
A wave is actually a particle but we are seeing multiple version of it – dimensions in the theory – so it has many possibilities. When it interacts with matter, one of the possibilities becomes fixed to a particular reference frame in relation to the matter it interacts with. A different possibility could possibly become fixed to a different reference frame to other matter. This accounts for the various paradoxes where one “observer” sees one thing and another “observer” sees something else. In the world we see, waves are “collapsing” by interacting with matter so the large scale structure gets built up from the ground up with matter becoming fixed or entangled with other matter so everything is in a common reference frame.
(Note: After reading a bit of Carlo Rovelli’s Reality is Not What It Seems, I think most of Kerr’s theory is in Rovelli’s relational quantum mechanics. Kerr does seem to bring in a “dimensional” component that I don’t see in Rovelli’s RQM, but the notion that interaction is what causes the wave to take on it dynamic properties is in the relational theory.)