Logic and Complementarity

  • T. Bergstein


From the preceding exposition it follows that the quantum statistical representation of an individual atomic system does not imply any renunciation regarding further knowledge about the system. On the contrary the statistical character of quantum physics directly reflects the fundamental non-causal appearance of quantal recordings, and through the discovery of the complementarity of quantal phenomena a complete but necessarily statistical description of the atom has been accomplished. Furthermore quantum physics has afforded a statistical description of macroscopic bodies through their representation as assemblies of huge numbers of identical atomic systems, and, apart from accounting in a more fundamental way for the properties already described in classical physics(the correspondence principle, p. 36), quantum statistics explains several macroscopic phenomena which cannot be understood within the conceptual frame of classical physics only. It must be maintained, however, that when observing the properties of individual atomic objects the macroscopic observational apparatus cannot be represented in terms of atomic constituents because this would destroy the unambiguity of the description. The observational apparatus fulfils its basic function of being the spacetime frame of reference for the quantal recordings precisely through its description in classical physics alone. However, when refraining from the analysis of individual quantal processes it is possible to apply quantum statistics to macroscopic phenomena, that is, the causality of classical physical phenomena can be interpreted in the quantum formalism as the statistical result of the interplay of enormous numbers of atomic processes. It is possible, then, to talk of statistical causality as a fundamental aspect of physical reality.


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© T. Bergstein 1972

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  • T. Bergstein

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