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A response to pilot-wave theory

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr. Mike Towler.

Abstract: de Broglie-Bohm pilot-wave theory is an interpretation of quantum mechanics which purports to present us with a real world in which real particles guided by real waves hit real screens. I shall introduce the interpretation and explain why I do not believe it to be an adequate solution to the problem of understanding what quantum theory tells us about reality. Given that it is supposed to be a universal quantum theory, I shall look at how pilot-wave theory copes with describing macroscopic thermal systems and human observers. As a non-relativistic theory, Bohmian mechanics of course has difficulties with genuine physical particles such as quarks and photons, but I shall suggest that it also has difficulties with the sort of emergent phenomena which seem to arise naturally in the framework of modern heuristic quantum theory. I shall consider how pilot-wave theory deals with non-locality and I shall ask whether any interpretation of quantum theory can ever be fully compatible both with relativity theory and with realism. At some time after the seminar, I intend to make an extended version of my notes and overheads available from my web site here .

Although my seminar will be self-contained, it is a response to Mike Towler’s splendid series of lectures advocating pilot-wave theory, which are available at

The seminar will take place on Wednesday 6th May 2009 at 3pm in the TCM Seminar Room on the top floor of the Mott building at the Cavendish Laboratory.

This talk is part of the A response to pilot-wave theory series.

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