The Invalid Inference of Universality in Quantum Mechanics


The universality assumption (“U”) that quantum wave states only evolve by linear or unitary dynamics has led to a variety of paradoxes in the foundations of physics. U is not directly supported by empirical evidence but is rather an inference from data obtained from microscopic systems. The inference of U conflicts with empirical observations of macroscopic systems, giving rise to the century-old measurement problem and subjecting the inference of U to a higher standard of proof, the burden of which lies with its proponents. This burden remains unmet because the intentional choice by scientists to perform interference experiments that only probe the microscopic realm disqualifies the resulting data from supporting an inference that wave states always evolve linearly in the macroscopic realm. Further, the nature of the physical world creates an asymptotic size limit above which interference experiments, and verification of U in the realm in which it causes the measurement problem, seem impossible for all practical purposes if nevertheless possible in principle. This apparent natural limit serves as evidence against an inference of U, providing a further hurdle to the proponent’s currently unmet burden of proof. The measurement problem should never have arisen because the inference of U is entirely unfounded, logically and empirically.

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Andrew Knight
New York University


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