Philosophy Colloquium
Jeff Bub
University of Maryland
Bananaworld: Quantum Mechanics for Primates

This is intended to be a serious talk, 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 performed by Alice in a region A and 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 probabilistic correlations for peelings and tastes that cannot be simulated by Alice and Bob if they are restricted to classical resources. The conceptually puzzling features of quantum mechanics are generic features of such nonclassical correlations. As far as the conceptual problems of quantum mechanics are concerned, we might as well talk about bananas.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013
4:00pm

Skinner 1115