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Unitary Interactions Do Not Yield Outcomes: Attempting to Model ``Wigner's Friend''

Kastner, Ruth (2021) Unitary Interactions Do Not Yield Outcomes: Attempting to Model ``Wigner's Friend''. [Preprint]

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Abstract

An experiment by Proietti et al purporting to instantiate the `Wigner's Friend' thought experiment is discussed. It is pointed out that the stated implications of the experiment regarding the alleged irreconcilability of facts attributed to different observers warrant critical review. In particular, violation of a Clauser-Horne-Shimony inequality by the experimental data actually shows that the attribution of measurement outcomes to the ``Friends'' (modeled by internal photons undergoing unitary interactions) is erroneous. An elementary but often overlooked result regarding improper mixtures is adduced in support of this assessment, and a basic logical error in the analysis leading to the authors' ontological claims that different observers are subject to irreconcilable `facts' is identified. A counterexample is provided which refutes the popular notion that quantum theory leads to `relative facts' that never manifest as empirical inconsistencies. It is further noted that under an assumption of unbroken unitarity, no measurement correlation can ever yield an outcome, since all systems remain in improper mixtures, and attributing a definite but unknown outcome contradicts their composite pure state. It is pointed out that there already exists a solution to this conundrum in the form of an alternative formulation of quantum theory, which accounts for the data showing that no outcomes occurred at the interior entangled photon level and also predicts that outcomes can and do occur at the exterior ``super-observer'' level in this type of experiment.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Kastner, Ruthrkastner@umd.edu
Additional Information: This is a revised version making explicit the logical error involved and including additional references.
Keywords: Quantum theory, quantum measurement, Clauser-Horne-Shimony Inequality, EPR correlations, measurement problem, Wigner's Friend
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > Evidence
General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
General Issues > Theory/Observation
General Issues > Thought Experiments
Depositing User: Ruth E. Kastner
Date Deposited: 26 Jul 2021 03:54
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2021 03:54
Item ID: 19367
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > Evidence
General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
General Issues > Theory/Observation
General Issues > Thought Experiments
Date: 15 May 2021
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/19367

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