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Metascience

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 87–90 | Cite as

A new way of understanding the wave function

Shan Gao: The meaning of the wave function. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017, x+189pp, $140 HB
  • Nicholas Maxwell
Book Review

This is a fascinating and important book about how to interpret the wave function of quantum theory. It is clearly written, up to date, and has a wealth of interesting things to say. In what follows I give a summary of just some of the topics of the book.

It begins with a brief exposition of the formalism of orthodox quantum theory and von Neumann’s account of measurement. Shan Gao goes on to discuss the question of whether the wave function can be interpreted ontologically, as specifying the actual physical state of the quantum system, or whether it should be interpreted epistemologically, as encapsulating our incomplete knowledge of the system. After weighing up arguments for and against these two views, Gao rejects the epistemological view, and adopts the ontological view. He then goes on to give an exposition and careful discussion of the modern version of Bohm’s interpretation of quantum theory, which is subsequently rejected. There is also a critical discussion of the Everett, or...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Science and Technology StudiesUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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