Foundations of Physics

, Volume 36, Issue 12, pp 1869–1883 | Cite as

What is Erased in the Quantum Erasure?

  • B. J. HileyEmail author
  • R. E. Callaghan

In this paper, we re-examine a series of gedanken welcher Weg (WW) experiments introduced by Scully, Englert and Walther that contain the essential ideas underlying the quantum eraser. For this purpose we use the Bohm model which gives a sharp picture of the behaviour of the atoms involved in these experiments. This model supports the thesis that interference disappears in such WW experiments, even though the centre of mass wave function remains coherent throughout the experiment. It also shows exactly what it means to say ‘that the interference can be restored by manipulating the WW detectors long after the atoms have passed’. It does not support Wheeler’s notion that ‘the past is undefined and undefinable without the observation (in the present)’.


Quantum erasure welcher Weg experiments Bohm trajectories 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Scully M.O. (1998). “Do Bohm trajectories always provide a trustworthy physical picture of particle motion?”. Phys. Scr. T76, 41–46MathSciNetCrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Callahan R.E., Hiley B.J. (2006). “Delayed choice experiments and the Bohm approach”. Phys. Scr. 74, 336–348CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    B. J. Hiley, “Welcher Weg experiments from the Bohm perspective,” in Quantum Theory: Reconsiderations of Foundations-3, G. Adenier, A. Yu. Krennikov, and T. M. Nieuwenhuizen, eds. (AIP, New york, 2006), pp. 154–160.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Bohm D., Hiley B.J. (1987). “An ontological basis for quantum theory: I - particle systems”. Phys. Rep. 144, 323-348MathSciNetCrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bohm D., Hiley B.J. (1993). The Undivided Universe: An Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Theory. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Y. Aharonov and L. Vaidman, “About Position Measurements which do not show the Bohmian Particle Position”, in Bohmian Mechanics and Quantum Theory: an Appraisal, J. T. Cushing, A Fine, and S. Goldstein, eds. Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 184, 141–154 (Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, 1996).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Englert J., Scully M.O., Süssman G., Walther H. (1992). “Surrealistic Bohm trajectories”. Z. Naturforsch. 47a, 1175–1186Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Scully M.O., Englert B.G., Walter H. (1991). “Quantum optical tests of complementary”. Nature 351, 111–116CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bohm D., Hiley B.J., Kaloyerou P.N. (1987). “An ontological basis for quantum theory: II - A causal interpretation of quantum fields”. Phys. Rep. 144, 349–375MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Holland P.R. (1993). “The de Broglie-Bohm theory of motion and Quantum Field Theory”. Phys. Rep. 224, 95–150MathSciNetCrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    J. A. Wheeler, “The “Past”and the “Delayed-Choice” double-slit experiment”, in Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Theory, A. R. Marlow, ed. (Academic, 1978), pp. 9–48.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Holland P.R. (1993). The Quantum Theory of Motion. Cambridge University Press, CambridgezbMATHGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    N. Erez and M. O. Scully, “Reply to Hiley and Callaghan on the reality/surrealism of the Bohm trajectories”, in Quantum Theory: Reconsideration of Foundations-3, A. Yu. Khrennikov, and Th. M. Nieuwenhuizen, eds. (AIP, New york, 2006), pp. 259–62.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    N. Bohr, Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge (Science Editions, New York, 1961).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Theoretical Physics Research Unit, Birkbeck CollegeUniversity of LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations