70 years of Bohm’s pilot wave theory

October 12, 2022

Organization: Andrea Oldofredi

This event is a celebration of the 70th year of David Bohm’s papers A suggested interpretation of the quantum theory in terms of hidden variables Part I & II published in January 1952 in the prestigious Physical Review, where he proposed the very first alternative formulation of quantum mechanics. These essays not only contributed fundamentally to the interpretational debate which is still ongoing today, but also their content is still widely discussed and studied. In this one-day workshop six scholars whose research is influenced by or based on Bohm’s works will speak about the philosophy, history and physics of the pilot-wave theory and its recent developments.

Date: Wednesday 12 October 2022
Valia Allori, Northern Illinois University
Title: Wave-Functionalism. 
Abstract: In this paper I present a new perspective for interpreting the wave function in quantum theory as a nonmaterial, non-epistemic, non-representational entity. I endorse a functional view according to which the wave function is defined by its roles in the theory. I argue that this approach shares some similarities with the nomological account of the wave function as well as with the pragmatist and epistemic approaches to quantum theory, while avoiding the major objections of these alternatives.
Olival Freire Jr, Federal University of Bahia
Title: On the vicissitudes of Bohm’s 1952 interpretation of quantum mechanics.
Abstract: When David Bohm published, in 1952, an interpretation of quantum mechanics in terms of hidden variables he could not foresee the complex fate it would have. Dispute of priorities with Louis de Broglie, a poor reception among most of the physicists, an enthusiastic reception among a few ones, particularly in France, including an alliance with de Broglie, frustration with the reception of this proposal, its abandonment, and a revival of interest in this proposal. After Bohm passed away, the proposal gained its own life with different and competing strands and supporters. Nowadays, one among other possible interpretations of quantum mechanics. What kind of lessons for the practice of science one can draw from this history will be the subject of this presentation.
Roderich Tumulka, University of Tübingen
Title: A vision for a Bohmian theory of quantum electrodynamics
Abstract: I outline what a Bohmian theory of particles for photons, electrons, and positrons in Minkowski space-time could look like. On the way, I will talk about multi-time wave functions and relativistic versions of Bohmian mechanics, I will discuss explicit equations, and I will describe the open problems.
Marij van Strien, University of Wuppertal
Title: Why Bohm was never a determinist
Abstract: David Bohm’s interpretation of quantum mechanics has mostly become known as a fully deterministic account of quantum mechanics. For this reason, it has often been thought that Bohm’s aim was to restore the determinism of classical physics; and after he published this interpretation in 1953, he was often criticized as conservative and unwilling to accept the radical implications of quantum physics.
However, although Bohm’s proposal from 1953 does indeed have the feature of being deterministic, for Bohm this was never the main point. In fact, in other texts which he published shortly before and after, as well as in correspondence, he argued that the assumption that nature is deterministic is unjustified, and that we should abandon the idea of a strict determinism. His aim was a different one: to develop an understandable theory of quantum mechanics. In this talk, I will examine Bohm’s ideas on determinism and causality. I will show that Bohm aimed to develop a notion of causality different from determinism, and that he found resources for this in dialectical materialism. Furthermore, I will argue that concerns over determinism generally have played a less central role in the opposition to (the standard interpretation of) quantum mechanics than is often thought.
Antonio Vassallo, Warsaw University of Technology
Title: TBD
Abstract: TBD
Aurélien Drezet, University of Grenoble Alpes
Title: TBD
Abstract: TBD