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Default Will String Theory Lead to a Reformulation of Quantum Mechanics?

Table of Contents
.......The Elegant Universe
THE ELEGANT UNIVERSE, Brian Greene, 1999, 2003
```(annotated and with added bold highlights by Epsilon=One)
Chapter 15 - Prospects
Will String Theory Lead to a Reformulation of Quantum Mechanics?
The universe is governed by the principles of quantum mechanics to fantastic accuracy. Even so, in formulating theories over the past half century, physicists have followed a strategy that, structurally speaking, places quantum mechanics in a somewhat secondary position. In devising theories, physicists often start by working in a purely classical language that ignores quantum probabilities, wave functions, and so forth—a language that would be perfectly intelligible to physicists in the age of Maxwell and even in the age of Newton—and then, subsequently, overlaying quantum concepts upon the classical framework. This approach is not particularly surprising, since it directly mirrors our experiences. At first blush, the universe appears to be governed by laws rooted in classical concepts such as a particle having a definite position and a definite velocity at any given moment in time. It is only after detailed microscopic scrutiny that we realize that we must modify such familiar classical ideas. Our process of discovery has gone from a classical framework to one that is modified by quantum revelations, and this progression is echoed in the way that physicists, to this day, go about constructing their theories.

This is certainly the case with string theory. The mathematical formalism describing string theory begins with equations that describe the motion of a tiny, infinitely thin piece of classical thread—equations that, to a large extent, Newton could have written down some three hundred years ago. These equations are then quantized. That is, in a systematic manner developed by physicists over the course of more than 50 years, the classical equations are converted into a quantum-mechanical framework in which probabilities, uncertainty, quantum jitters, and so on are directly incorporated. In fact, in Chapter 12 we have seen this procedure in action: The loop processes (see Figure 12.6) incorporate quantum concepts—in this case, the momentary quantum-mechanical creation of virtual string pairs—with the number of loops determining the precision with which quantum-mechanical effects are accounted for.

The strategy of beginning with a theoretical description that is classical and then subsequently including the features of quantum mechanics has been extremely fruitful for many years. It underlies, for example, the standard model of particle physics. But it is possible, and there is growing evidence that it is likely, that this method is too conservative for dealing with theories that are as far-reaching as string theory and M-theory. The reason is that once we realize that the universe is governed by quantum-mechanical principles, our theories really should be quantum mechanical from the start. We have successfully gotten away with starting from a classical perspective until now because we have not been probing the universe at a deep enough level for this coarse approach to mislead us. But with the depth of string/M-theory, we may well have come to the end of the line for this battle-tested strategy.

We can find specific evidence for this by reconsidering some of the insights emerging from the second superstring revolution (as summarized, for example, by Figure 12.11). As we discussed in Chapter 12, the dualities underlying the unity of the five string theories show us that physical processes that occur in any one string formulation can be reinterpreted in the dual language of any of the others. This rephrasing will at first appear to have little to do with the original description, but, in fact, this is simply the power of duality at work: Through duality, one physical process can be described in a number of vastly different ways. These results are both subtle and remarkable, but we have not yet mentioned what may well be their most important feature.

The duality translations often take a process, described in one of the five string theories, that is strongly dependent on quantum mechanics (for example, a process involving string interactions that would not happen if the world were governed by classical, as opposed to quantum, physics) and reformulate it as a process that is weakly dependent on quantum mechanics from the perspective of one of the other string theories (for example, a process whose detailed numerical properties are influenced by quantum considerations but whose qualitative form is similar to what it would be in a purely classical world). This means that quantum mechanics is thoroughly intertwined within the duality symmetries underlying string/M-theory: They are inherently quantum-mechanical symmetries, since one of the dual descriptions is strongly influenced by quantum considerations. This indicates forcefully that the complete formulation of string/M-theory—a formulation that fundamentally incorporates the newfound duality symmetries—cannot begin classically and then undergo quantization, in the traditional mold. A classical starting point will necessarily omit the duality symmetries, since they hold true only when quantum mechanics is taken into account. Rather, it appears that the complete formulation of string/M-theory must break the traditional mold and spring into existence as a full-fledged quantum-mechanical theory.

Currently, no one knows how to do this. But many string theorists foresee a reformulation of how quantum principles are incorporated into our theoretical description of the universe as the next major upheaval in our understanding. For example, as Cumrun Vafa has said, "I think that a reformulation of quantum mechanics which will resolve many of its puzzles is just around the corner. I think many share the view that the recently uncovered dualities point toward a new, more geometrical framework for quantum mechanics, in which space, time, and quantum properties will be inseparably joined together." 5 And according to Edward Witten, "I believe the logical status of quantum mechanics is going to change in a manner that is similar to the way that the logical status of gravity changed when Einstein discovered the equivalence principle. This process is far from complete with quantum mechanics, but I think that people will one day look back on our epoch as the period when it began." 6 (Epsilon=One: It actually began before your epoch. The "logical status" of understanding the total environment in which we exist began several days before Einstein's unexpected death. Philip Morrison thought that only Einstein would understand the Unified Concept's (UC) Seminal Motion, hyper-relativist speeds, and oscillations that were symbolically represented by "strings." It is difficult to believe that no progress has been made since Einstein's death other than a clear understanding that axiomatic, theoretical physics and the Standard Model are desperately "incomplete." Physicists dare not wander beyond the quantitative, which is where they must go to resolve a multitude of current enigmas, such as the gravitational effect, Cosmic and sub-atomic entanglement, the locus of the Universe, why Nature defines numbers and not vice-versa, et cetera, et cetera.)

With guarded optimism, we can envision that a reframing of the principles of quantum mechanics within string theory may yield a more powerful formalism that is capable of giving us an answer to the question of how the universe began (Epsilon=One: The Universe DID NOT begin. It is a perpetual singularity that has always "been" and will always "be." The Universe's locus is congruent within and without the duality of a Singularity. We and all that exists are merely "passing through Reality.") and why there are such things as space and time—a formalism that will take us one step closer to answering Leibniz's question of why there is something rather than nothing. (Epsilon=One: Better questions than Leibniz's question are: Where did we come from? Where are we going? And: How should we behave in-between? The short answer to Leibniz's query is "something" moved serendipitously in a harmonious manner that resonated.)
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.......The Elegant Universe
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