Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Quantum Measurement and Initial Conditions

Quantum measurement finds the observed system in a collapsed state, rather than in the state predicted by the Schrödinger equation. Yet there is a relatively spread opinion that the wavefunction collapse can be explained by unitary evolution (for instance in the decoherence approach, if we take into account the environment). In this article it is proven a mathematical result which severely restricts the initial conditions for which measurements have definite outcomes, if pure unitary evolution is assumed. This no-go theorem remains true even if we take the environment into account. The result does not forbid a unitary description of the measurement process, it only shows that such a description is possible only for very restricted initial conditions. The existence of such restrictions of the initial conditions can be understood in the four-dimensional block universe perspective, as a requirement of global self-consistency of the solutions of the Schrödinger equation.
The arXiv link.