Passon’s defense

“Why isn’t every physicist a Bohmian?” by Oliver Passon [arXiv:quant-ph/0412119v2]

Admitting interest in the de Broglie-Bohm theory to a fellow physicist might elicit at most a raised eyebrow or a disbelieving smile.  But most physicists don’t know enough about dB-B to formulate objections.  But if the Bohmian or Bohm-curious physicist finds themselves in the position of having to defend Bohmian mechanics to the skeptic rooted in the heterodox interpretation of quantum mechanics, Passon’s article is a decent cheat sheet.

In this brief paper, Passon lists and discusses the main objections to dB-B theory and answers them.  Passon divides his defense of the Bohmian view into two parts: meta-theoretical and “theory-immanent.”  The meta-theoretical objections typically miscast Bohmian theory as being of only philosophical interest.  The theory-immanent objections focus on the perceived shortcomings of the physics of the Bohmian picture.  One theory-immanent objection being that of the once-supposed “surrealistic” particle trajectories in Bohmian mechanics.  I first learn about these “surrealistic” trajectories when I was in graduate school when Marlan Scully came to our department to talk about his quantum “which-way detectors.”  It’s a fascinating subject which has been thoroughly analyzed and is now well-understood.  But at the time, it appeared that Scully had put the bullet into Bohm’s theory.

Passon’s treatment suffers from brevity.  However, he has provided copious (94 to be exact) references to fuller expositions on the points touched on in his article.  The title, while provocative, is somewhat misleading.  I don’t get the impression that Passon is trying to show the strengths of the Bohmian picture, and it appears he’s content with just answering the various objections.  The interested reader who wants to be convinced that Bohmian mechanics is the correct picture will have to read the articles of Detlef Dürr, Sheldon Goldstein, and Nino Zanghì.


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