[SydPhil] Foundations of Physics Seminar, Tuesday 15 October: Kelvin McQueen on Dynamical Collapse

Matthew Farr matt.farr at sydney.edu.au
Mon Oct 7 00:39:20 AEDT 2013

The next Sydney Foundations of Physics seminar will be held on Tuesday* 15th October at 11:30am. Kelvin McQueen from the Department of Philosophy will speak about dynamical collapse theories - details below.

*Please note the unusual Tuesday slot; this is due to a timetabling clash. Future FoP seminars will return to the Thursday slot.
Speaker. Kelvin McQueen (Sydney/ANU).
Title. “Three Tails Problems for Dynamical Collapse Theories.”

Abstract. The primary quantum mechanical equation of motion entails that measurements typically do not have determinate outcomes, but result in superpositions of all possible outcomes. The paradigmatic dynamical collapse theory - the GRW theory - supplements this equation with a stochastic collapse function, intended to collapse the superposition of outcomes into just one. But these collapses are imperfect in a way that leaves the superpositions intact. This problem is the "tails problem", and is usually formulated as an inconsistent triad between (i) GRW, (ii) determinate measurement outcomes, and (iii) the traditional interpretive principle. Consequently, many solutions revise (iii). I argue that these solutions are misguided, in part because the usual formulation misses the point. Wallace (2008) argues similarly and distinguishes the "bare tails problem" from the "structured tails problem". The latter points to the structural isomorphism of the GRW ontology with the many-worlds ontology. I argue that since GRW collapses distort the tails, a third tails problem should be distinguished, which points to the structural isomorphism of the GRW ontology with merely possible multiverse ontologies. This problem applies to alternative formulations of the collapse function. I conclude that the prospects of collapse theories are bleak.

Time. Tuesday 15th October, 11:30-13:00.
Location. Muniment Room S401, Main Quad - A14, University of Sydney.

All are welcome!

Please note that we are seeking speakers for future seminars - any area related to foundational concepts in physics (e.g. space, time, matter, motion, probability, measurement, etc.) is welcome, whether theoretical, philosophical or methodological. If you'd like to give a talk, or know of any future visitors who would like to give a talk, please contact me at matt.farr at sydney.edu.au<mailto:matt.farr at sydney.edu.au>.

The schedule for SydFoP talks is available here: http://newagendasstudyoftime.wordpress.com/sydfop/

Details for how to subscribe to the SydFoP mailing list are here: http://lists.arts.usyd.edu.au/mailman/listinfo/sydfop

All the best
DR MATT FARR | Postdoctoral Research Fellow
New Agendas for the Study of Time<http://newagendasstudyoftime.wordpress.com/> | Centre for Time
School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry | Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Room N494 | Quadrangle A14
University of Sydney | NSW | 2006

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