What is it about?

A fundamental precept of modern physics, accepted by most physicists, is that there is no determinism in quantum mechanics. In classical physics, electric and magnetic fields are deterministic, and have the following properties: (a) they pervade all space, (b) the structure of the field lines is representative of the physical system, (c) the energy of the system is stored in the fields. It is shown, via the equations of motion or 'Quantal Newtonian' Laws for the individual electron that similar fields exist in a quantum-mechanical system. It is in the classical behavior of these fields, which arise from quantal sources that one may then speak of determinism in quantum mechanics.

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Why is it important?

The concept of a lack of determinism in quantum mechanics goes back to the work of Born, Heisenberg and Bohr in the mid 1920s. There are many such as Einstein, Schrödinger, de Broglie who believe that as in classical physics there ought to be determinism, and that therefore quantum mechanics though consistent is an incomplete theory. What is shown in the paper is that within the current interpretation when viewed from the perspective of the individual electron in the sea of electrons and its equation of motion, that one may then observe determinism in quantum mechanics akin to that of classical physics.


Together with my book on "Schrödinger Theory of Electrons: Complementary Perspectives", Springer Tracts on Modern Physics 285 (2022), the present paper on Determinism provides a distinct and unique way to view a quantum mechanical electronic system. This view leads to many physical insights not previously known. It also leads to new mathematical insights into the Schrödinger equation itself.

Viraht Sahni
Brooklyn College

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Perspectives on determinism in quantum mechanics: Born, Bohm, and the “Quantal Newtonian” laws, The Journal of Chemical Physics, December 2022, American Institute of Physics, DOI: 10.1063/5.0130945.
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