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Time, symmetry and structure: A study in the foundations of quantum theory

Roberts, Bryan W. Time, symmetry and structure: A study in the foundations of quantum theory. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh.

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    Abstract

    This dissertation is about the sense in which the laws of quantum theory distinguish between the past and the future. I begin with an account of what it means for quantum theory to make such a distinction, by providing a novel derivation of the meaning of "time reversal." I then show that if Galilei invariant quantum theory does distinguish a preferred direction in time, then this has consequences for the ontology of the theory. In particular, it requires matter to admit "internal" degrees of freedom, in that the position observable generates a maximal abelian algebra. I proceed to show that this is not a purely quantum phenomenon, but can be expressed in classical mechanics as well. I then illustrate three routes for generating quantum systems that distinguish a preferred temporal direction in this way.


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    Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
    ETD Committee:
    ETD Committee TypeCommittee MemberEmail
    Committee CoChairEarman, Johnjearman@pitt.edu
    Committee CoChairNorton, John D.jdnorton@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberBatterman, Robertrbatterm@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberRuetsche, Lauraruetsche@umich.edu
    Committee MemberValente, Giovannivalente@pitt.edu
    Title: Time, symmetry and structure: A study in the foundations of quantum theory
    Status: Published
    Abstract: This dissertation is about the sense in which the laws of quantum theory distinguish between the past and the future. I begin with an account of what it means for quantum theory to make such a distinction, by providing a novel derivation of the meaning of "time reversal." I then show that if Galilei invariant quantum theory does distinguish a preferred direction in time, then this has consequences for the ontology of the theory. In particular, it requires matter to admit "internal" degrees of freedom, in that the position observable generates a maximal abelian algebra. I proceed to show that this is not a purely quantum phenomenon, but can be expressed in classical mechanics as well. I then illustrate three routes for generating quantum systems that distinguish a preferred temporal direction in this way.
    Defense Date: 30 May 2012
    Approval Date: 02 October 2012
    Submission Date: 26 June 2012
    Release Date: 02 October 2012
    Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
    Patent pending: No
    Number of Pages: 122
    Institution: University of Pittsburgh
    Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
    Refereed: Yes
    Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
    Uncontrolled Keywords: philosophy of physics, quantum theory, time, time reversal, T violation
    Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History and Philosophy of Science
    Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2012 14:37
    Last Modified: 03 Oct 2012 01:15

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