Like so many, I am trying to understand quantum mechanics
– or, at least, to explain it in a way that makes sense to me.

I’ve taken graduate-level quantum mechanics, or a course
that intimately depends on quantum mechanics, at four universities, including
MIT and Princeton. I’ve read countless
books and journal articles on quantum mechanics and its various
interpretations. But I’ve never seen quantum
mechanics characterized or explained the way I am about to explain it, so I
sincerely hope that: a) if it is incorrect, someone can (kindly) point out the
flaw; b) if it is correct but is equivalent to another interpretation (e.g.,
Consistent/Decoherent Histories), someone can expound on the equivalence; or c)
if it is correct and novel, that it helps other people to understand quantum
mechanics. If c), then I’d like to
submit this to a journal on physics education.

__My Interpretation/Understanding__
I am attempting to characterize, interpret, and
understand quantum mechanics using the following set of propositions, and then
more deeply explain this interpretation using a specific example.

The state of the universe is a particular chronological
set of facts/events, and the relationships between objects in the universe are
the information storing/instantiating those facts. Those facts must be consistent throughout the
entire universe.

A fact occurs exactly when the number (or density) of
future possibilities decreases. Every
fact limits future facts and is limited by prior facts. A fact does not necessarily require an
“impact” or “interaction” as colloquially understood.[1]

A (quantum) superposition exists if and only if the facts
of the universe are consistent with the superposition. For example, in the case of the classic two-slit
interference experiment with the particle passing the double slit at time T

_{0}, the particle is in a superposition of passing through both slits if and only if there is no fact about the particle’s location in one slit or another at time T_{0}. If even a single photon, correlated to the location of the particle in one slit or the other at time T_{0}, scurries away at light speed, there is a fact about the location of the particle and it cannot be in a superposition at time T_{0}.[2] In the unlikely event that the experiment is set up so that that photon later gets uncorrelated such that no “which-path” information is ever available, then the particle is, amazingly, in superposition at time T_{0}. Such a “delayed-choice quantum eraser experiment” (See, e.g., Aspect*et al*., 1982) demonstrates that whether an event occurs seems to depend on the*future*permanence of a correlating fact. In reality, the “window of opportunity” to prevent the decoherence of a superposition is extremely short, so we don’t generally need to wait long before we can officially declare the happening of an event.
Quantum uncertainty (e.g., in the form of the Heisenberg Uncertainty
Principle) is simply one type of superposition, in which a spread of possible
positions and a spread of possible momenta are related. For instance, if a particle is tightly
localized at time T

_{0}, then the facts of the universe at that time are consistent with a wide spread of possible momenta – i.e., a superposition of many momenta exists at T_{0}.

__Explanation of this Interpretation__
I’ll try to explain this interpretation with a specific
example. Imagine N objects ({O

_{1}, ..., O_{N}}), which need not be microscopic “particles,” distributed in three-dimensional space discretized into M possibilities per dimension. Assume also that velocity is discretized into M possibilities per dimension. Each possible combination of location (X) and momentum (P) vectors for each and every object might be considered a single point in classical phase space, yielding a total of M^(6N) such points/possibilities. A fact (or event) is anything that reduces the number of such possibilities, so one example of a fact is an impact between two objects. Assume for simplicity that an impact between two objects is always repulsive and their masses are equal, so an impact just has the effect of swapping the objects’ velocities. Assume also that an impact occurs only when two objects are at the same location at the same time; we will neglect fields.
Let us choose one set of possibilities at time T

_{0}, specifically the set in which O_{1}has a particular position X_{1}and three possible momenta P_{11}, P_{12}, P_{13}, and O_{2}has a particular position X_{2}and three possible momenta P_{21}, P_{22}, P_{23}, as shown in Fig. 1 below. For the sake of demonstration, these values are chosen such that O_{1}with P_{11}will, at time T_{1}, reach the same location in space as O_{2}with P_{21}; also, O_{1}with P_{12}will, at time T_{2}(which may or may not be different from T_{1}), reach the same location in space as O_{2}with P_{23}; but every other combination always results in non-coinciding future locations.
Fig. 1. Nine possibilities for two objects.

There are no restrictions on the possible locations and
momenta of other objects, so for each of the nine combinations of O

_{1}and O_{2}, there are M^[6(N-2)] possibilities involving the remaining (N-2) objects. For simplicity, let’s ignore those other combinations and simply write the nine points in phase space as {X_{1}, P_{11}, X_{2}, P_{21}}, {X_{1}, P_{11}, X_{2}, P_{22}}, {X_{1}, P_{11}, X_{2}, P_{23}}, {X_{1}, P_{12}, X_{2}, P_{21}}, etc.
We now add the following fact about the universe: by time
T

_{3}(which is after T_{1}and T_{2}), O_{1}and O_{2}have interacted with each other but not with any other objects. (That is, they reach the same location in space and then repel, thus swapping their momenta.) Notice that this fact has the effect of reducing the number of possible combinations that can exist at T_{3}. Specifically, only the two possibilities, {X_{1}, P_{11}, X_{2}, P_{21}} and {X_{1}, P_{12}, X_{2}, P_{23}} as they existed at time T_{0}, can now exist at T_{3}. Note that at time T_{3}, the objects O_{1}and O_{2}in each of the two combinations have swapped momenta and are in different locations. For clarity, let’s assume that possibilities {X_{1}, P_{11}, X_{2}, P_{21}} and {X_{1}, P_{12}, X_{2}, P_{23}} at time T_{0}evolve, respectively, to {X_{1}’, P_{21}, X_{2}’, P_{11}} and {X_{1}’’, P_{23}, X_{2}’’, P_{12}} at time T_{3}.
This reduction in the number of combinations has two
features. First, there are broad
categories of individual momenta that simply cannot exist: specifically, at
time T

_{3}, O_{1}cannot have a position/momentum combination that traces it back to (or is correlated to) the combination {X_{1}, P_{13}} at time T_{0}, just as O_{2}cannot be traced back or correlated to the combination {X_{2}, P_{22}} at T_{0}, and no future measurement can contradict this. (Note that I’m*not*asserting that an event after T_{0}retroactively eliminates possibilities at T_{0}. Rather, while at T_{0}there were nine possibilities, there are only two at T_{3}.) Second, while other broad categories of individual momenta may not be ruled out, there are now*correlations*between the possible momenta of the objects. For example, if an evolution of O_{1}from state {X_{1}’, P_{21}} exists at some later time, then a corresponding evolution of O_{2}from state {X_{2}’, P_{11}} must also exist. If a future fact rules out one, then it rules out both. Similarly, if an evolution of O_{1}from state {X_{1}’’, P_{23}} exists at some later time, then a corresponding evolution of O_{2}from state {X_{2}’’, P_{12}} must also exist. These two objects are now entangled, no matter the distance between them.
Let me further clarify.
For the moment, let’s only consider the nine original possible
configurations of objects O

_{1}and O_{2}. By time T_{3}the only remaining possibilities are: O_{1}having P_{21}AND O_{2}having P_{11}; or O_{1}having P_{23}AND O_{2}having P_{12}. If at some later time (but before the objects have had a chance to interact with other objects), Alice measures the momentum of object O_{1}to be P_{21}, it will necessarily be the case that the momentum of object O_{2}, if measured by Bob, would be found to be P_{11}. Even if the Alice and Bob are far apart, their measurements will be perfectly correlated. Even if the measurement events are spacelike separated – i.e., there is no fact about which measurement happens first – object O_{1}having momentum P_{21}will correspond to object O_{2}having momentum P_{11}and*not*P_{12}. In other words, among the nine possibilities at time T_{0}, the first fact (O_{1}interacts with O_{2}) eliminates all but two, and the second fact (O_{1}has momentum P_{21}) eliminates one. Thus, these facts make future facts incompatible with all but one of those original nine possibilities, specifically {X_{1}, P_{11}, X_{2}, P_{21}} at T_{0}.[3]
Notice that the reduction in possibilities – and the
resulting correlations – have nothing to do with whether Alice or Bob knows
about the correlations. I think there’s
been a lot of experimental research and discussion regarding how measurements
on systems with known entanglements correlate to each other, as if entanglement
were some rare, almost magical quantum configuration created only in expensive labs.
Instead, I think entanglement is
ubiquitous. If every (or almost every)
impact between objects results in a new correlation between them, then isn’t
every object entangled with every other?
The universe goes on creating new facts, reducing future possibilities,
correlating the possibilities of one system with those of another, so that the
possibilities for any one object depend, in some sense, on the possibilities of
every other. The notion of universal entanglement
is far more important and useful, I think, than has been discussed in the
scientific literature.

Of course, this example is insanely oversimplified. My goal is simply to show how the
quantity/density of possible combinations in phase space gets reduced by
facts. For instance, as discussed above,
the fact that O

_{1}interacts with O_{2}implies that O_{1}cannot have a state after T_{3}that traces it back or correlates it to the state {X_{1}, P_{13}} at time T_{0}. However, this does NOT imply that O_{1}can’t have momentum P_{13}after T_{3}. The analysis considered only a tiny (TINY!) subset of possibilities at time T_{0}in which O_{1}was located at X_{1}and O_{2}was located at X_{2}. To determine whether O_{1}might have momentum P_{13}after T_{3}, we have to consider every other possible combination in which O_{1}is*not*at X_{1}at T_{0}. Looking back at Fig. 1, we can obviously move O_{1}to some other location so that, with momentum P_{13}, it*does*impact O_{2}.
Now that I’ve explained the example, the primary questions
I want to consider are the effect of facts on the universe in reducing the
entire phase space of possibilities, and whether any interesting or large-scale
pattern or structure emerges. For
example, if it turned out, after several events, that O

_{1}having momentum P_{13}does not appear in*any*of the possible combinations at T_{3}, then we can state with certainty that O_{1}does not have momentum P_{13}at T_{3}. And if in*every*possible combination after T_{3}in which O_{1}has momentum P_{21}we find that O_{2}has momentum P_{11}, then we can say with certainty that if Alice measures the momentum of O_{1}as P_{21}and Bob, who is several light-years away from Alice, measures the momentum of O_{2}, he will measure P_{11}.[4]
I think the most interesting question is: as the phase
space of possibilities gets reduced in time by facts, does any structure or pattern
emerge in the

*distributions*of object locations and/or momenta? For example, if after lots of events involving objects O_{4}and O_{7}, do we find, among the remaining possibilities in phase space, that the locations of O_{7}relative to O_{4}start to converge? If so, does the spread of the distribution (e.g., standard deviation) get tighter with the addition of subsequent facts?

__Computer Simulation and Questions__
I tried programming a simulating and answering the above
questions with Mathematica, but quickly realized that even the simplest
possible analysis (three objects in one dimension discretized into 10
possibilities, repeating universe, no gravity) took about 10 seconds to analyze
the one million points of phase space. Imagine
trying to do a more reasonable analysis of, say, 100 objects in two-dimensional
space discretized to 1000 places per dimension; we’re now at 1000^400
possibilities, which significantly exceeds the computational power of the
entire universe, estimated at 10^122. (See,
e.g., Davies, 2007.)

There are a variety of mathematical tools and shortcuts
that could help with the analysis. For
example, I suspect that an interesting analysis could be done with a Monte
Carlo simulation, essentially by just randomly selecting initial states. I could start with a set of chronological facts/events
(e.g., O

_{1}impacts O_{5}, then O_{3}impacts O_{9}, then O_{5}impacts O_{6}, etc.) and then run a Monte Carlo simulation to find a statistically useful set of initial states that satisfy the facts. Then, I’d like to see what kind of patterns and/or localizations, if any, emerge. I suspect that after enough events, some objects would start to appear fixed relative to some other objects, and once all objects are entangled/correlated, they would all begin to show a (potentially fuzzy) localization relative to each other. Further, I suspect that if we were to look at the fuzziness of, say, object #74, we would find a particular spread in its location and momentum, but if we were to look only at the distribution of momenta of object #74 in*particular*locations, we would find a larger spread. If so, then such an analysis might numerically demonstrate quantum uncertainty. Of course, I could be wrong about all this, but won’t know until I can do some sort of simulation or analysis.
Another question that might be answered by such an
analysis is whether the times of events must be inputted (e.g., O

_{1}impacts O_{5}at T=35 units) or whether time itself is emergent. I suspect the latter. In the previous example, O_{1}having P_{21}at T_{3}is correlated with O_{2}having P_{11}, but it is*also*correlated with an impact at T_{1}, while O_{1}having P_{23}at T_{3}is correlated with an impact with O_{2}at T_{2}. Thus, the later fact about the universe causes the time of the earlier impact to emerge. I suspect that when the phase space specifies velocity, event times are emergent; likewise, if the set of possibilities includes only locations but event times are specified, velocities would emerge.
Another issue that might be addressed by such an analysis
is the relationship of objects to the underlying grid. Objects shouldn’t leave the grid, so will
objects wrap around or should we include a gravitation force sufficient to
prevent their reaching the edge? And
suddenly an analysis of quantum mechanics necessitates general relativity and
the curvature of space!

Finally, I don’t have the math background to figure out
how to do the analysis with continuous initial states (versus discrete states). I suspect that there is no fundamental discretization
of spacetime, but rather the “resolution” of the universe increases with more
facts/events. That is, there is no
fundamental limit to the precision of a measurement, except to the extent that
facts just don’t (yet) exist to answer questions that probe beyond a certain
scale. One scale, quantum uncertainty,
involves a tradeoff between an object’s location precision and momentum
precision, while another, the Planck length, implies an energy sufficient to
create a black hole if a distance smaller than the Planck length is
probed. Both scales are related to
Planck’s constant.

But if every interaction between objects creates a new
fact that slightly increases the universe’s resolution, then Planck’s constant
is actually decreasing with time. As
Planck’s constant continues to decrease, the energy of a photon at a given
wavelength decreases, so shorter lengths can be probed before reaching a
black-hole-inducing energy. Also as uncertainty
decreases, the momentum-changing kick given by that photon to probe the
location of an object would have less of an effect on the measured object.

__Objections__

I’ll try to address a few potential objections to this
interpretation.

__Implies Planck’s constant is not a constant.__The time scale of this interpretation by which new facts increase the resolution of the universe (and decrease Planck’s constant) is sufficiently slow that there is no reason to think that any change could have been detected in the last century, although improving measurement precision may allow this prediction to be tested in the future. If Planck's constant is decreasing with time, one way to test this hypothesis without doing further measurements might be to retrodict the number of facts/events and/or correlations/entanglements that would be necessary to bring quantum uncertainty to within the scale of Planck’s constant, and then determine whether the actual number of such events and/or entanglements in the universe is consistent with this retrodiction. In other words, it may be the case that Planck’s constant is actually decreasing if it emerges from variations among possibilities, the number (or density) of which decrease with the happening of events.

In any event, despite some debate as to its implications,
there is already strong evidence that correlation/entanglement within a system
reduces its quantum uncertainty. (See,
e.g., Rigolin, 2002.) If indeed
universal entanglement correlates every object in the universe directly or
indirectly to every other, it should not be surprising that increasing
correlations further reduce quantum uncertainties, an hypothesis that would be
verified by observing a change in Planck’s constant.

__Implies that the wave state Ψ is not the full description of a system.__An underlying assumption of our current understanding of quantum mechanics is that a system’s wave state is its complete description, and that “the momentum wave packet for a particular quantum state [is] equal to the Fourier transform of the position wave packet for the same state.” (Griffiths, Ch. 2.) These are assumptions that, so far, have provided excellent agreement with observation, but have also given rise to confusion and a variety of seeming paradoxes. It may be that the current computational power of quantum mechanics is an approximation that results from the convergence of remaining possibilities after facts of the universe eliminate the vast majority. As an analogy, one may use a very high precision thermometer to obtain the temperature of a system to many significant figures, but its temperature is not its complete description.

__Treating objects classically.__My example in Fig. 1 treats objects macroscopically as they bounce off each other classically. But that was just an example to show how facts reduce possibilities and that the remaining possibilities inherently embed evidence of those facts. That is essentially tautological: it must be true that impacts between systems produce facts that reduce possibilities, because otherwise what would it mean that an impact occurred? Any event must distinguish possibilities in which the event happens and those in which it doesn’t. Rather, my point (I think!) is that is the history of facts in the universe is instantiated in the form of correlations/entanglements between objects, localizes the positions and momenta of objects relative to each other, and gives rise to (or eliminates the possibilities of ) superpositions.

__Identity.__My interpretation requires that objects have identity. For example, if two of the facts of the universe are that object O

_{9}impacts object O

_{4}at time T

_{0}and then O

_{4}impacts O

_{12}at time T

_{1}, then the possible locations and momenta of object O

_{4}after time T

_{1}(along with, of course, its correlations with O

_{9}and O

_{12}) effectively embed the history of these facts. This can only be true if object O

_{4 }at T

_{0}is the

*same*as object O

_{4}at T

_{1}– i.e., objects must maintain their identity. However, as currently understood, many quantum mechanical objects don’t have identities; they are indistinguishable in principle. For instance, if two helium nuclei (which are bosons) are exchanged in a superfluid represented by wave state Ψ, then the state (and any predictive power we possess) will remain unchanged. How can a particular helium nucleus (and its entanglements with other objects) embed a history of facts if there’s no such thing as a “particular” helium nucleus?

I’ll provide several responses. First, the examples I gave were generically
about objects; I did not specify that they were particles or microscopic. They’re true of baseballs, which clearly

*can*be treated classically. If it turns out that protons cannot be treated classically (e.g., if protons do not maintain identity), then there may not be a fact about one particular proton impacting another particular proton. But there may be a fact about a*group*of protons (for example) creating some lasting correlation in the universe, a fact that*would*be reflected in reducing possibilities. Second, the objection is based on the assumption that Ψ contains all information about a system; as discussed above, this assumption may be merely a convenient approximation. Finally, we already know that entanglement is possible between such particles; what would this mean if they didn’t have identity? For instance, imagine two entangled photons (A and B) such that their polarizations are perfectly correlated. If photon A is mixed up with lots of other “identical” photons, doesn’t photon A still perfectly correlate to photon B? Don’t photon A and B (or, perhaps the universe as a whole) still “know” they are entangled, whether or not*we*can distinguish photon A from others?

__References__
Aspect, A.,
Dalibard, J. and Roger, G., 1982. Experimental test of Bell's inequalities
using time-varying analyzers.

*Physical review letters*,*49*(25), p.1804.
Davies,
P.C.W., 2007. The implications of a cosmological information bound for
complexity, quantum information and the nature of physical law.

*Cristian S. Calude*, p.69.
Elitzur,
A.C. and Vaidman, L., 1993. Quantum mechanical interaction-free
measurements.

*Foundations of Physics*,*23*(7), pp.987-997.
Griffiths,
R.B., 2003.

*Consistent quantum theory*. Cambridge University Press.
Haroche, S.,
1998. Entanglement, decoherence and the quantum/classical boundary.

*Physics today*,*51*(7), pp.36-42.
Rigolin, G.,
2002. Uncertainty relations for entangled states.

*Foundations of Physics Letters*,*15*(3), pp.293-298.
[1]
Elitzur

*et al.*(1993) unintentionally gives a great argument as to how quantum mechanical events can occur without an “interaction.” Whether or not the suggested method disturbs a measured system’s internal quantum state, it undoubtedly produces facts that reduce the number of future possibilities.
[2]
“The coherence vanishes as soon as a single quantum is lost to the
environment.” (Haroche, 1998.)

[3]
I don’t think it matters, scientifically, whether we say that all nine
combinations truly were possibilities at time T

_{0}and future facts narrow down possibilities when the facts occur, or that eight of the nine combinations were not actually possible at T_{0}and future facts simply clarify past possibilities. The predictive power of both ideas is the same.
[4] So long as Alice measures after T

_{3}in her frame of reference but before O_{1}has impacted another object and Bob measures after T_{3}in his frame of reference but before O_{2}has impacted another object.
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