An Encapsulating World Interpretation of Wave Function Collapse?
-You don’t necessarily need to be an expert on wave function collapse to have some insight on encapsulating/nesting worlds and many worlds types of reality, so please don’t let concerns about expertise in this area prevent anyone from commenting. (Technically, nesting worlds would be “many worlds,” but not the sort of many worlds structure used in this context.)
-If there’s a more appropriate forum than LW for discussions at the intersection of philosophy and physics (or any science, like neurology), please lmk in the comments.
Do people think a sort of bare-bones “encapsulating world interpretation” could help explain wave function collapse just as well as, or as a supplement to, the many worlds interpretation?
An encapsulating world interpretation would involve quantum behavior (and “tagging” of photons) coming from an encapsulating (“deeper”) world, w/ classical physics behavior innate to this world. It seems like we’ve already studied subatomic particles to the point that there just isn’t anything in this world that could possibly be “tagging” a photon as to whether it has been observed. That only seems to leave an encapsulating world to be doing the tagging. Alternatively, even if we were to stick with MWI, wouldn’t we still need an encapsulating world around all of the many worlds (to dictate their split, and possibly eliminate all but one of them)?
I know that an encapsulating world interpretation can’t be proven, but it seems like the many worlds interpretation can’t be proven either, and that’s currently the leading interpretation among quantum physicists.
-Like practically every idea that seems unique to an individual in the first moment it occurs to them, it is typical to find that similar ideas have been proposed. In this case, I’ve realized that David Chalmers (and assuredly many, many others) have proposed similar ideas. A minor caveat is that I think Chalmers’ idea is a bit more elaborate in the idea of the encapsulating world being a programmer world, while the idea I’m mentioning here is more of a “bare-bones” encapsulating world (which we would know as much about as the “many worlds” of MWI). In any case though, I’m sure that many others have had the same idea and I’m not claiming it is unique to me. It just seems the idea could benefit from more public discussion and refinement.
-I posted something similar in a reply to a previous post, & as a small subset of a longer post, but I decided to give this its own post.
I am having trouble understanding what you mean by “encapsulating world”. Do you have a writeup somewhere?
Thanks for asking! I don’t have a refined write-up. The value of LW, for me at least, is to propose, discuss, and refine ideas still in their infancy or other prepublication stages. Once I have a truly refined write-up of an idea, I think it would be more in the stage of submitting it to an academic journal. However, at that point, related ideas (and interpretation of the journal article) would be fitting on LW, and the whole cycle could start again. At least, that’s how it is for me. I’m sure other people find different value in LW.
With that said, for the definition of “encapsulating world,” we would have to start with what I meant by “world.” For that, it’s necessary to look to the literature on the many worlds interpretation. As I’m sure you already know, but just to be thorough, MWI was first proposed in a Princeton thesis paper by Hugh Everett. It’s available several places, but here’s one: https://archive.org/details/TheTheoryOfTheUniversalWaveFunction/mode/2up
(Hugh Everett, The Theory of the Universal Wave Function, Thesis, Princeton University, (1956, 1973), pp. 1–140.)
Of course there’s also the book by David Wallace, which thoroughly explains the idea of a “world” in this context: (Wallace, David (2012). The Emergent Multiverse: Quantum Theory According to the Everett Interpretation. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-954696-1).
Also, I just came across this article from 2009. The permanent link is at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsb.2008.10.002.
(Stefano Osnaghi, Fábio Freitas, Olival Freire, The origin of the Everettian heresy, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, Volume 40, Issue 2, 2009, Pages 97-123, ISSN 1355-2198,https://doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsb.2008.10.002).
A tangential point about this article is that it reflects a point that I (poorly) tried to make in an earlier post, which is that there is a subset within the physics community that seems almost theocratic in the way its members regard physicists with differing (more philosophical) viewpoints. My post made a very unfavorable impression upon some LW folks, as they promptly let me know in the comments, and afterward I conceded that “theocratic” was too strong a word. I also recognized that any misunderstandings were my own fault for obviously doing a poor job explaining myself. Oddly enough, the article I just cited is full of theological-type terminology to describe the same phenomenon I tried to describe. That doesn’t justify my original post. However, it does seem to add to the wry, winking irony of the universe.
As far as the “encapsulating” part of an encapsulating world interpretation, you could always check out David Chalmers’ descriptions of how quantum mechanics might be viewed as part of simulated universe. (Chalmers, D. J., & Peacock, T. (2022). Reality+: Virtual worlds and the problems of philosophy. W. W. Norton & Company.) I would give you page numbers, as the book relates to quantum mechanics, but there are many references throughout the book. You could always look in the index to read all of them.) In this case, the “encapsulating” world would be the simulator/programmer/external world.) However, in my own “bare bones” view, I’m not including any of the other assumptions that would go into the simulation hypothesis (such as the idea that the encapsulating world consists of programmers, or even the idea that there are any intentions involved).
I apologize for not giving a single sentence definition of “encapsulating world” when it comes to an encapsulating world interpretation of wave function collapse, but it’s the type of concept that requires the mathematics and diagrams of the many worlds interpretation, along with a view of quantum mechanics similar to what Chalmers describes, and then refinements from there.
As I mentioned in the original post, although the idea independently occurred to me that wave function collapse could be explained by an encapsulating world interpretation, I’m sure it occurred to millions of other people before it occurred to me. Although the idea is not unique to me, I posted it because I still think it would be worth discussing and refining on LW.
Hopefully, the discussion can be at least partially collaborative. I’m starting to realize that LW users are mostly male, and I wonder if this makes discussions slightly more competitive than collaborative (i.e. - some people seem to want to “win debates” a bit more than collaborate). I’m not saying this trend is good or bad, but I’d really appreciate some constructive, collaborative insights, in addition to critiques. (Granted, I recognize that any negative criticism is probably my own fault for poor logic or poorly-worded posts that lead to misunderstandings. Moreover, negative criticism can definitely provide room for growth. Nevertheless, a few collaborative insights that hadn’t previously occurred to me would be a much-appreciated supplement.) If you’ve read this far, thank you!
I still do not understand.
Usually I would avoiding commenting in such case; I am just saying this explicitly to communicate that if there are not enough comments here, it probably means that people are not sure what exactly to discuss.
Perhaps it would be better if you wrote a simple to read, self-contained article explaining the idea.
Great idea! I’ll work on that. Thx!
Btw, I’m totally cool w/ the downvotes on this one. I probably would have downvoted it too, because it’s not at all developed or detailed.
The only time a downvote or “unfavorable impression” disturbs me is when it’s accompanied by an explanation that makes me think the downvoter is under the impression that I said something I didn’t say, or that I believe something I don’t believe. Granted, even then, the false impression can also be my fault for not having explained myself clearly in the first place.
In this particular case, I know the post was read carefully, and contemplated, because shminux asked for clarification and elaboration. That made me really happy, regardless of downvotes and upvotes. So many thanks!
On a side note, this was a little bit of a real-time social experiment, since it’s about as far out there as I can go philosophically about physics, and I wanted to test an assertion I made in a previous post. Among the LW community, I’m happy to say the situation does not reflect what I’ve seen in some other communities. In fact, it’s the opposite, because I was able to voice something way, way out there. In response, it wasn’t deleted, and clarifications were asked for. So that’s really cool too.
I was also interested in seeing the kind of reaction a philosophical physics post would get, as it pertains to a previous post I made. I really appreciate the opportunity to discuss even “far out” ideas on LW.