Archive for October 23rd, 2012

October 23rd, 2012

Karl Popper on the Many Worlds Interpretation

by Max Andrews

In a brief section of Karl Popper’s Quantum Theory and the Schism in Physics[1] he discusses his attraction to the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum physics as well as the reason for his rejection of it. Popper is actually quite pleased with Everett’s three-fold contribution to the field of quantum physics. Despite his attraction to the interpretation he rejects it based on the falsifiability of the symmetry behind the Schrödinger equation.

Popper’s model allows for a theory to be scientific prior to supported evidence.  There is no positive case for purporting a theory under his model. There can only be a negative case to falsify it and as long as it may be potentially falsified it is scientific.  Thus, a scientific theory could have no evidence or substantiated facts to provide good reasons for why it may be true. What makes this discussion of MWI interesting is that despite Popper’s attraction to MWI it’s not the attraction that makes it scientific, it’s his criterion of falsification.

In favor of MWI:

  1. The MWI is completely objective in its discussion of quantum mechanics.
  2. Everett removes the need and occasion to distinguish between ‘classical’ physical systems, like the measurement apparatus, and quantum mechanical systems, like elementary particles.  All systems are quantum (including the universe as a whole).
  3. Everett shows that the collapse of the state vector, something originally thought to be outside of Schrödinger’s theory, can be shown to arise within the universal [Schrödinger] wave function.
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