Quick Impressions of Bohmian Mechanics

I get asked my opinion of Bohmian mechanics a fair bit, despite the fact that I know very little about it. This came up again recently, so I got some suggested reading from Matt Leifer, on the grounds that I ought to learn something about it if I’m going to keep being asked about it. One of his links led to the Bohmian Mechanics collaboration, where they helpfully provide a page of pre-prints that you can download. Among these was a link to the Bohmian Mechanics entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which seemed like a good place to start as it would be a) free, and b) aimed at a non-physics audience, which is a plus, given the cold I have at the moment, which isn’t doing much for my clarity of thought.

It turns out I had read some of this before, and my immediate reaction now was the same as my reaction then, namely “It’s a miracle you can type while balancing that chip on your shoulder.” The introduction is fairly neutral, but as you go down through the article, there are a bunch of little shots at “orthodox quantum theory” which have the cumulative effect of making me start to wonder if the author is actually a crank– in the previous read (while I was writing How to Teach Physics to Your Dog), I actually gave up after a quick skim for just this reason. As the author is one of the authorities Matt recommended, I read it more carefully this time out, and what follows are some quick impressions based on reading through the article. I would not begin to claim that I have gained any deep understanding, and I’ll look at some more physics-oriented resources next (maybe the textbook Matt mentioned, though the freely available front matter had the same shoulder-chip issue noted above), but this is, as the title suggests, the stuff I thought of immediately.

The short version, above the fold to serve as both teaser and attention conservation notice is two items: 1) In many ways, this sounds like an unholy union between Einstein and Heisenberg, and 2) I still don’t see the point.

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