Thoughts on Physics, Maths and Reality (Part I)

Here are some casual thoughts related to my old passion for physics and different mindsets between people doing maths and physics. Most of the things discussed here are open to interpretations.

At the early age of physics, physical laws tended to fit into some sort of common sense or intuitions. As physics developed further, people found the existence of “reality” more elusive , particularly for quantum mechanics which has been thought to be counterintuitive. Physics uses maths to construct a “physical reality” that is in some sense highly subjective. Only a tiny part of the presumed existence of an outside world interacts with us by reflecting itself on our perceptions. The rest of the physics story is filled out with mathematical fabrications. How much is fabricated depends on how much we can perceive, to measure or to build a physical picture for it. Lack of direct observations and perceptions in quantum mechanics makes its story less intuitive so that sometimes people feel the need to find a more sensible interpretation which fit in their philosophical views better, like the alternative Bohmian interpretation for Copenhagen interpretation.

 I was ever driven to quest for an “interpretation” of quantum mechanics by studying a few alternative quantum theories including quantum Baysianism, and Bohmian Mechanics (the pilot-wave model). These theories are almost equivalently good at predictions. But the orthodox quantum theory has remained in textbooks as it came first in history. These alternatives are all good candidates of quantum mechanics. There might be some areas in which some of them work slightly better than the others. But none of them stands out to resolve the inconsistency problem in general relativity. People in favour of one of them is in favour of a kind of interpretation or worldview they are happy to accept.

Indeed, all these quantum theories are mathematical theories with their own beauty. That’s how I like pure maths: it stands out as a subject with a lot more freedom creating an abstract reality which does not explicitly depends on the external world.