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Collapse Models: from Theoretical Foundations to Experimental Verifications

Angelo Bassi Austrian Academy of Sciences – Festsaal Related
Physics 06/10/2014

The basic strategy underlying models of spontaneous wave function collapse (collapse models) is to modify the Schroedinger equation by including nonlinear stochastic terms, which tend to localize wave functions in space in a dynamical manner. These terms have negligible effects on microscopic systems — therefore their quantum behaviour is practically preserved. On the other end, since the strength of these new terms scales with the mass of the system, they become dominant at the macroscopic level, making sure that wave functions of macro-objects are always well-localized in space. Based on recent results, we discuss why modifications of the Schroedinger equation which include nonlinear stochastic terms have to be of the form used in collapse models. Therefore, in a precise sense, collapse models are the only consistent modifications of quantum mechanics, preserving general physical principles. By changing the dynamics of quantum systems, collapse models make predictions, which are different from standard quantum mechanical predictions. Although they are difficult to detect, we discuss the most relevant scenarios, where such deviations could possibly be observed.