Quantum mechanics: new experiments, new applications, and new formulations of old questions
Lebedev Physical Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Leninsky prosp. 53, Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation
Some of the quantum mechanical conceptual problems, their current status, and related theoretical developments are reviewed. The characteristics of the entangled quantum states are analyzed, and new experiments and quantum information applications involving such states are discussed. The well-known paradox of Schroedinger’s cat (the impossibility of observing superpositions of macroscopically distinct states that are predicted by quantum mechanics) is discussed. It is shown that decoherence (arising when a quantum system is measured in such a way that some information about its state is recorded in its environment) prevents the distinguishing of a superposition and the corresponding mixture. This overcomes the difficulties associated with the paradoxical nature of quantum measurement provided we remain within the framework of the theory of open systems. Other conceptual difficulties, while actually lying outside physics, are now the subject of much research and have already led to new interesting interpretations of quantum mechanics. The suggestion of Wigner and others that the observer’s consciousness be included in the theory of quantum measurement is discussed in this context. A hypothesis is put forward which might enable the functioning of consciousness to be described in quantum measurement terms.