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The impossibly stubborn question at the heart of quantum mechanics

A great debate has raged over what precisely this field can tell us. Ninety years later physicists still can’t decide

By Jim Baggott  

Niels Bohr with Albert Einstein in 1925

Everybody knows by now that quantum mechanics is an extraordinarily successful scientific theory, on which much of our modern, tech-obsessed lifestyles depend. It is also completely mad. Although the theory quite obviously works, we’re left to puzzle over what we think it’s telling us, with all its ghosts and phantoms; its cats that are at once both alive and dead; its collapsing wavefunctions; and its seemingly “spooky” goings-on. It leaves us with a rather desperate desire to lie down quietly in a darkened room.

This business has been going on for more than…

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