Saturday, June 13, 2015

Impressions from Vaxjo

I just came back from the QTFT conference in Vaxjo which was excellently organized by Professor Andrei Khrennikov.

I have a ton of interesting information to report from there but for today, still suffering the jet lag and organizing my notes, I will only paint an impressionistic view of the conference experience.

I have never been to Sweden before and I was pleasantly surprised to see how well Sweden is connected to the world. Everyone I met spoke English without any accent, the small Vaxjo town was cozy, and the hotel had excellent service on par with three times as expensive hotels in US. A strange experience was the short dark hours, due to the Nordic latitude, and I can only imagine how winter would look like. Also it was rather cold, like a nice November day but it got warm as the week progressed. If you walk from town to the university you go around two beautiful lakes and the surroundings provided a very nice setting for quantum mechanics private discussions. 

The conference featured a lecture from Theodor Hänsch, the recipient of the 2005 Physics Nobel Prize. Then the conference placed the focused on several interesting and essential in my opinion areas: experiment and interpretation, qubism, categorical quantum mechanics, quantum-like models outside physics.

I was able to learn that we may be about two years away from experimental confirmation or rejection of the current GRW-type collapse models, I understood the finer points of distinction between Copenhagen and qbism interpretation, I experienced the amazing depth of the category theory usage in quantum mechanics (and I think the time to launch a journal dedicated to this is fast approaching), and I got delighted by quantum-like effects in psychology. 

The discussions happened on four levels: during the formal presentations, during the coffee breaks, during walks around the lakes on the trips back to town, and in the welcoming arms of the Bishop: the local pub where many fine points of quantum interpretations were very seriously debated until the closing hours.

I found it surprising to see the passion that Bell's theorem still elicits as well as the debate between locality vs. nonlocality in quantum mechanics. The funny part is that both sides agree that quantum mechanics violates Bell's locality condition which is the essential part, and as a neutral observer (since I have my own interpretation) the fight looks to me completely sterile and useless. 

I also discovered that I am not the only one bitten by the hope to solve Hilbert's sixth problem one day. 

Overall, it was a very pleasant and extremely productive time for me and I wish I will be able to return to this conference every year.

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