Journal of Modern Physics

Volume 12, Issue 9 (July 2021)

ISSN Print: 2153-1196   ISSN Online: 2153-120X

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Quantum Mysteries for No One

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DOI: 10.4236/jmp.2021.129082    242 Downloads   1,560 Views  Citations


I provide a critical reassessment of David Mermin’s influential and misleading parable, “Quantum Mysteries for Anyone”, identifying its errors and resolving them with a complete analysis of the quantum experiment it is meant to portray. Accessible to popular readership and requiring no knowledge of quantum physics at all, his exposition describes the curious behaviour of a machine that is designed to parody the empirical results of quantum experiments monitoring the spins of a pair of electrons under various conditions. The mysteries are said to unfold from contradictory results produced by a signal process that is proposed to explain them. I find that these results derive from a mathematical error of neglect, coupled with a confusion of two distinct types of experiments under consideration. One of these, a gedankenexperiment, provides the context in which the fabled defiance of Bell’s inequality is thought to emerge. The errors are corrected by the recognition of functional relations embedded within the experimental conditions that have been long unnoticed. A Monte Carlo simulation of results in accord with the actual abstemious claims of quantum theory supports probability values that Mermin decries as unwarranted. However, the distribution it suggests is not definitive, in accord with the expressed agnostic position of quantum theory regarding measurements that cannot be executed. Bounding quantum probabilities are computed for the results of the gedankenexperiment relevant to Bell’s inequality which inspired the parable. The problem is embedded in a 3 × 3 design of Stern-Gerlach magnet orientations at two observation stations. Computational resolution on the basis of Bruno de Finetti’s fundamental theorem of probability requires the evaluation of a battery of three paired linear programming problems. Though technicalities are ornate, the message is clear. There are no mysteries of quantum mechanics that derive from mistaken understandings of Bell’s inequality… for anyone.

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Lad, F. (2021) Quantum Mysteries for No One. Journal of Modern Physics, 12, 1366-1399. doi: 10.4236/jmp.2021.129082.

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