The Reality of the Quantum Wavefunction


Venue: Parnell Building (07) Rm 222, St Lucia Campus
Mr Martin Ringbauer (UQ, EQuS)

This colloquium will be held at 3 pm on Friday 28th August.

The quantum wavefunction is at the heart of our best description of nature, yet we don’t know what this object actually represents. Does it correspond to physical reality (the psi-ontic interpretation), is a representation of knowledge or information about an underlying reality (the psi-epistemic interpretation) or is there no reality at all and the wavefunction just represents our subjective experience? The psi-epistemic viewpoint appears very compelling in that it offers intuitive and simple explanations for many puzzling quantum phenomena. Whether it is indeed compatible with quantum mechanics and the notion of an objective observer-independent reality has, on the other hand, long been an open question. I will discuss the various positions one can take on the interpretation of the wavefunction and quantum theory. I will then focus on our recent experimental results demonstrating that no realist psi-epistemic model can fully explain the imperfect distinguishability of non-orthogonal quantum states—one of the fundamental features of the theory—and how these results might help to guide you in choosing your own favorite interpretation.