Foundations of Physics

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 177-196

First online:

What’s Wrong with Einstein’s 1927 Hidden-Variable Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics?

  • Peter HollandAffiliated withGreen College, University of Oxford Email author 

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Einstein’s unpublished 1927 deterministic trajectory interpretation of quantum mechanics is critically examined, in particular with regard to the reason given by Einstein for rejecting his theory. It is shown that the aspect Einstein found objectionable—the mutual dependence of the motions of particles when the (many-body) wavefunction factorises—is a generic attribute of his theory but that this feature may be removed by modifying Einstein’s method in either of two ways: using a suggestion of Grommer or, in a physically important special case, using a simpler technique. It is emphasized though that the presence or absence of the interdependence property does not determine the acceptability of a trajectory theory. It is shown that there are other grounds for rejecting Einstein’s theory (and the two modified theories), to do with its domain of applicability and compatibility with empirical predictions. That Einstein’s reason for rejection is not a priori grounds for discarding a trajectory theory is demonstrated by reference to an alternative deterministic trajectory theory that displays similar particle interdependence yet is compatible with quantum predictions.


Einstein quantum theory interpretation hidden variables particle trajectories entanglement