Bananaworld: Quantum Mechanics for Primates

TitleBananaworld: Quantum Mechanics for Primates
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsBub, J
PublisherOxford University Press

This is intended to be a serious paper, in spite of the title. The idea is that quantum mechanics is about probabilistic correlations, i.e., about the structure of information, since a theory of information is essentially a theory of probabilistic correlations. To make this clear, it suffices to consider measurements of two binary-valued observables, x with outcomes a = 0 or 1, performed by Alice in a region A, and y with outcomes b = 0 or 1 performed by Bob in a separated region B --or, to emphasize the banality of the phenomena, two ways of peeling a banana, resulting in one of two tastes. The imagined bananas of Bananaworld are non-standard, with operational or phenomenal probabilistic correlations for peelings and tastes that lie outside the polytope of local correlations. The 'no go' theorems tell us that we can't shoe-horn these correlations into a classical correlation polytope, which has the structure of a simplex, by supposing that something has been left out of the story, without giving up fundamental principles that define what we mean by a physical system. The nonclassical features of quantum mechanics, including the irreducible information loss on measurement, are shown to be generic features of correlations that lie outside the local correlation polytope. As far as the conceptual problems are concerned, we might as well talk about bananas.

Reprint EditionRevised paperback edition, April 2018