History and Philosophy of Science

KA2 2018 Integrity


Cases of research misconduct are frequently discussed in leading scientific journals and have gained substantial public interest. The use of codes of conduct can help as guidelines to inform students and researchers about appropriate research practices, but a code of conduct without a clear implementation will not change the behaviour of scientists. Moreover, implementing rules and regulations is not always the best way to stimulate responsible behaviour. The development and implementation of an educational pathway for students on all levels of studies (Ba, Ma, PhD) is necessary to teach students how to recognize problematic situations, how to discuss them with their colleagues, and how to devise strategies for dealing with them. The first objective of the project is to encourage students to act with integrity during their education and conduct research in an integer way upon completion of their education. The second objective is to increase the level of digital teaching skills of staff and use of digital tools for integrity teaching. The third objective is to facilitate the translation of the existing codes of conduct into the curriculum and policy of Higher Education Institutions

Projectleider: Bert Theunissen

Looptijd: oktober 2018 - augustus 2021

The Reality of the Quantum State

NWO Veni project

Quantum mechanics is one of the most prominent theories of physics to date. However, since its conception, there have been disputes about the interpretation of its main object: the quantum state of a system. Are quantum states aspects of the world (ontic interpretation), or do they represent our knowledge about a system (epistemic interpretation)?

For some eighty years, this has been mainly a philosophical question. However, in 2012, Pusey, Barrett and Rudolph (PBR) showed that, given some intuitive assumptions, an epistemic interpretation is in conflict with quantum mechanical predictions. Specifically, their theorem demonstrates that, in any model that is able to reproduce the predictions of quantum mechanics, and in which states give a direct description of reality, the quantum state must be part of this description of reality. Obviously, such a result requires that the notion of an ontic interpretation of quantum states is formalized within the language of mathematics. In this project this step will be severely scrutinized to assess the precise philosophical import of the PBR theorem and other so-called ψ-ontology theorems. In addition, there are two sub-projects on the implications of ψ-ontology theorems.

The first concerns the implications for the quantum mechanical description of macroscopic systems. Quantum mechanics allows for the possibility of superposition states which, on an ontic interpretation, leads to the famous paradox of Schrödinger's cat. This sub-project explicates the possibilities for reconciling the quantum description of macroscopic systems with our every day experience.

The second focuses on the role of quantum states as generators for probability functions. Does an ontic interpretation of quantum states directly imply that these probabilities are also intrinsic properties of the world? And if not, what do ψ-ontology theorems tell us about the nature of quantum probabilities? These questions will be answered in the second sub-project.

Project number NWO: 275-20-070

Project leader: Dr. R. Hermens

Project duration: 16/01/2018 to 31/08/2020

Affiliated with: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

Prospects for Relativistic Collapse

FQXi Mini-Grant

Spontane ineenstortingstheorieën zijn modificaties van de kwantummechanica die een fundamenteel (in tegenstelling tot ‘door metingen geïnduceerd’) mechanisme van ineenstorting van de kwantummechanische golffunctie introduceren. Het eerste aantoonbaar succesvolle voorstel was van Ghirardi, Rimini en Weber (GRW) in het midden van de jaren tachtig, voor standaard niet-relativistische kwantummechanica. In het niet-relativistische geval vindt de instorting echter overal onmiddellijk plaats, zodat er geen duidelijke relativistische generalisatie is. Er zijn verschillende voorstellen gedaan, maar deze zijn allemaal op sommige manieren problematisch en er is momenteel geen consensus over de te volgen weg.

Dit project is een samenwerking tussen Guido Bacciagaluppi (UU), Wayne Myrvold (West-Ontario) en Owen Maroney (Oxford) die de huidige opties voor relativistische ineenstortingstheorieën onderzoeken, vooral in het licht van recente resultaten van onszelf en anderen.

Projectleider: Dr G. Bacciagaluppi

Looptijd project: 30/05/2019 tot 31/07/2020