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How the Laws of Physics Lie$
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Nancy Cartwright

Print publication date: 1983

Print ISBN-13: 9780198247043

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198247044.001.0001

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How the Measurement Problem Is an Artefact of the Mathematics

How the Measurement Problem Is an Artefact of the Mathematics

Chapter:
(p.163) Essay 9 How the Measurement Problem Is an Artefact of the Mathematics
Source:
How the Laws of Physics Lie
Author(s):

Nancy Cartwright (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0198247044.003.0010

Precursing now popular ‘spontaneous reduction’ views, this chapter argues that the measurement problem in quantum mechanics is not a problem of measurement at all. Reductions happen in a variety of circumstances and are particularly important in the preparation of quantum states. But there is no reason to think there is any simple physical characterization of situations in which reduction of the wave packet occurs from when it does not. There is a difference in the mathematical characteristics of the evolution operator between the two (unitary operators versus non‐unitary), but this mathematical difference need mark no interesting physical difference distinguishing the situations to which operators apply.

Keywords:   measurement problem, preparation of quantum states, reduction of the wave packet, spontaneous reduction, unitary operator

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