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N. David Mermin
David Mermin is professor emeritus of physics at Cornell University. He is perhaps best known for his contributions to the foundations of physics, especially his mechanisms for describing Bell's Theorem, his contributions to quantum information science, and his defense of QBism.
In 1981, Mermin wrote the very popular and widely cited paper "Quantum Mysteries for Anyone."
Mermin wrote a similar and more provocative paper in
In these papers Mermin described what he called a "very simple version" of John Bell's "
Two years later, Mermin published a variation on his original apparatus at a 1987 Notre Dame conference on Bell's Theorem. In this work, "More Experimental Physics from EPR," his new device has different switch settings but more data is provided to exhibit the mysterious entanglement (perfect correlations) between widely separated measurements. In this paper, Mermin gave a definite answer to his earlier question about the moon, "We now know that the moon is demonstrably not there when nobody looks." (p.50)
Perfect Correlations Depend on Polarizer Angles
Can Perfect Correlations Be Explained by Conservation Laws?
David Bohm, Eugene Wigner, and even John Bell suggested that conservation of angular momentum (or particle spin) tells us that if one spin-1/2 electron is measured up, the other must be down. Albert Einstein used conservation of linear momentum in his development of the EPR Paradox.
David Bohm wrote in 1957, We consider a molecule of total spin zero consisting of two atoms, each of spin one-half. The wave function of the system is therefore Eugene Wigner wrote in 1962 If a measurement of the momentum of one of the particles is carried out — the possibility of this is never questioned — and gives the result John Bell wrote in 1964, With the example advocated by Bohm and Aharonov, the EPR argument is the following. Consider a pair of spin one-half particles formed somehow in the singlet spin state and moving freely in opposite directions. Measurements can be made, say by Stern-Gerlach magnets, on selected components of the spins
Just like Bohm and Wigner, Bell is
Albert Einstein made the same argument in 1933, shortly before EPR, though with conservation of Suppose two particles are set in motion towards each other with the same, very large, momentum, and they interact with each other for a very short time when they pass at known positions. Consider now an observer who gets hold of one of the particles, far away from the region of interaction, and measures its momentum: then, from the conditions of the experiment, he will obviously be able to deduce the momentum of the other particle. If, however, he chooses to measure the position of the first particle, he will be able tell where the other particle is.
Supporters of the Copenhagen Interpretation (including Mermin?) claim (correctly) that the properties of the particles (like angular or linear momentum) In our case, the entangled particles have been prepared in a superposition of states, both of which have total spin zero. The two-particle wave function is
ψ = (1/√2) [ ψ ]
_{+} (1) ψ_{-} (2) - ψ_{-} (1) ψ_{+} (2)
So whichever of these two states is As long as nothing interferes with either entangled particle as they travel to the distant detectors, they will be found to be perfectly correlated if (and only if) they are measured (by prior agreement) at the same angle. Otherwise. the correlations should fall off as the square of the cosine of the angle difference. Oddly, Bell's inequality predicts a linear falloff with the angle difference, and a strange non-physical "kink" at angles 0°, 90°, 180°, and 270° (which Bell himself pointed out). We can illustrate the straight-line predictions of Bell's inequalities for local hidden variables, the cosine curves predicted by quantum mechanics and conservation of angular momentum, and the odd "kinks" at angles 0°, 90°, 180°, and 270°, with what is called a "Popescu-Rorhlich box." This square box is also called the Bell polytope. It shows Bell’s local hidden variables prediction as four straight lines of the inner square. The circular region of quantum mechanics correlations are found outside Bell's straight lines, "violating" his inequalities. Quantum mechanics and Bell's inequalities meet at the corners, where Bell's predictions show a distinctly non-physical right-angle that Bell called a "kink." All experimental results have been found to lie along the curved quantum predictions called the "Tsirelson bound."
In 1976, Bell gave us this diagram of the "kinks" in his local hidden variables inequality. He says, Unlike the quantum correlation, which is stationary inBell provides us no physical insight into the "kinky" square shape of his "local hidden variables" inequality.
The Ithaca Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics
the predictions of quantum mechanics are fundamentally probabilistic rather than deterministic, quantum mechanics only can make sense as a theory of ensembles. Whether or not this is the only way to understand probabilistic predictive power, physics ought to be able to describe as well as predict the behavior of the natural world. The fact that physics cannot make a deterministic prediction about an individual system does not excuse us from pursuing the goal of being able to construct a description of an individual system at the present moment, and not just a fictitious ensemble of such systems. Now Richard Feynman, a great admirer of Mermin's "contraption", said the only mystery was exhibited by the two-slit experiment. Does Mermin agree? Mermin is correct that "the predictions of quantum mechanics are fundamentally probabilistic" and that the probability of different possibilities is "objective." The first desideratum of his Ithaca interpretation of quantum mechanics is "The theory should describe an objective reality independent of observers and their knowledge."
Whose Knowledge?
Mermin has puzzled over the distinction between information and knowledge. In an article with the title "Whose Knowledge?" in the book Quantum [Un]Speakables by R.A.Bertlmann and A.Zeilinger, he notes
Mermin asked Suppose Alice now goes to the right qubit and secretly measures it in the computational basis. She does not report to Bob the result of her measurement or even whether she has measured at all. Since the right qubit is far away and does not interact with the left qubit...
The fundamental theory of standard quantum mechanics is that any measurement of, or even an environmental interaction with, the two-particle wave function Ψ Alice's measurement of the right qubit now gives her knowledge of the state of Bob's left qubit, as both David Bohm and John Bell said clearly. I argue that this knowledge is the consequence of the conservation of total spin angular momentum that I call a "hidden" constant of the motion, a common cause emanating from the apparatus located between Alice and Bob (in their past light cone) which entangled the qubits in a non-separable two-particle wave function.
And What about the Moon?
Mermin's 1981 article appeared to settle Einstein's question on the Moon's existence
The questions with which Einstein attacked the quantum theory do have answers; but they are not the answers Einstein expected them to have. We now know that the moon is demonstrably not there when nobody looks.But four years later Mermin asked the question again.
References
"Bringing home the atomic world: Quantum mysteries for anybody." American Journal of Physics 49(10) (1981): 940-943.
"Quantum Mysteries for Anyone."
"Is the Moon There When Nobody Looks? Reality and the Quantum Theory."
"More Experimental Physics from EPR," in
"Quantum Mysteries Revisited,"
"What is Quantum Mechanics Trying to Tell Us? (correlations!)," The Ithaca Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, PRAMANA - J. Phys., Indian Academy of Sciences, Vol. 51, No. 5, November 1998 pp. 549-565
"An Introduction to QBism,"
"Making better sense of quantum mechanics," "Answering Mermin’s Challenge with Conservation per No Preferred Reference Frame," Stuckey, W, Silberstein, M, McDevitt, T. and Le, T.D. (2020) researchgate.net Normal | Teacher | Scholar |