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Via Imaginary Potential comes Sidney Coleman’s lecture on how quantum mechanics differs from classical and what that whole “collapsing the wave function” business is all about. The lecture is geared to those who have a working familiarity with first-term quantum physics: the Schrödinger Equation, spin operators and such.

The video quality is not always quite good enough to capture what’s written on the transparencies, but the audio makes up for it.

EDIT TO ADD: I don’t actually agree with the final thesis of Coleman’s lecture (I’ve gone too far in my reading of Appleby, Barnum, Caves, Fuchs, Kent, Leifer, Peres, Schack, Spekkens, Unruh, Zeilinger and so on to make that retreat). However, I would say that (a) the GHZ story is easier to remember than the Bell story, and (b) “vernacular” quantum mechanics is a good term to have on hand, as the mishmash we get from several generations of skipping-past-the-weird-bits shouldn’t necessarily be called a “school of thought” in its own right.

One Comment

    • Eric
    • Posted Wednesday, 14 May 2008 at 00:06 am
    • Permalink

    This is incredible. Thanks for posting it Blake.

    I wish I knew more about S-waves, but the parts I do understand are like a punch in the gut. Time to read the papers by Everett and Mott…

    Just checking I am not misunderstanding his point… Is Sidney Coleman really saying that there’s no experiment you can design to test whether or not a wave-function collapse has actually occurred? Holy shit. It’s like the argument where basically there’s no observable difference between an empirical universe occupied by real people and a fantasy universe occupied by dream people, and so the begged question of solipsism is not a scientific one to even ask.