“We must remove the mystery on quantum physics for citizens”

Alexei Grinbaum is a physicist and philosopher at the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). He co-organized the European Conference on the Foundations of Physics, from October 28 to 30 in Paris, the first in France since its creation thirty years ago.

What progress do you see in the interpretations of quantum mechanics?

There are multiple puzzles, some of which are new. Rather than interpreting it, today we are trying to reconstruct quantum mechanics from axioms – fundamental principles. But we always aim to explain the famous problem of the measurement of observed phenomena: the theory foresees two different types of evolution over time of these phenomena, one of which gives a special place to the measurement operated by an observer. So many notions that the theory does not define, which is disturbing to say the least. In recent years, the measurement problem has been reformulated in the light of quantum information: this dissolves it more than it solves it. Quantum information has already made it possible to make mathematical and experimental advances, and it is not over yet.

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And is it still the battle between interpretations?

Each approach has its followers, its advantages and disadvantages. But everyone is talking to each other and everyone agrees on the phenomena observed! Several cultures, ways of thinking, mathematical languages ​​are present. This wealth is happy.

Future users should not live in a mysterious and opaque world giving up all hope of understanding the technologies around them.

Is this aura of mystery that surrounds quantum mechanics bothersome?

In a way, yes. In parallel with studies on the foundations of this theory, all the major countries of the world are investing in quantum technologies. This concerns quantum communication, quantum computing, metrology with examples such as extremely powerful sensors. On this level, to speak of mysteries or riddles as soon as one launches out in these technologies would be simply aberrant. Future users should not live in a mysterious and opaque world giving up all hope of understanding the technologies around them. Rather, we must craft stories that depart from this halo of mystery. Rather than playing forever with Schrödinger’s cat, let’s focus on the use of non-classical resources, like quantum entanglement, or quantum indeterminate causality, which allow us to go beyond what was accessible to engineers of the XXe century.

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