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Interpretation of quantum mechanics

Quantum mechanics is a physical theory which is extremely perplexing and non-intuitive. The equations have been very successful in predicting experimental results, but there have been a wide range of interpretations of what those equations mean.

Three of the most common interpretations are summarized here:

Interpretation Deterministic One
Universe
Avoids
hidden variables
Local Avoids
collapsing wavefunctions
Copenhagen interpretation No Yes Yes No No
Everett many-worlds interpretation Yes No Yes* Yes Yes
Bohm interpretation Yes Yes No No Yes
*Many Worlds has no hidden variables, except for the multiple worlds themselves.

An interpretation with a Yes in every box would be the most elegant and intuitive, but Bell's inequality appears to show that this is impossible within the rules of quantum mechanics. The possibility that the rules of quantum mechanics are in error and that the actual theory of the universe is one in which all of the boxes are yes has also been explored experimentally and there have been several experiments that appear to experimentally confirm Bell's inequality and the rules of quantum mechanics.

Each of these interpretations has at least one No, but they differ in where it is. At the current time, there are no known practical experiments that can distinguish between these interpretations, although there appears to be one highly impractical one known as quantum suicide that does. Attempting to find experiments that could distinguish between the different interpretations is an area of active interest.



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