Although most realistic approaches to quantum theory are based on classical particles, QFT reveals that classical fields are a much closer analog. And unlike quantum fields, classical fields can be extrapolated to curved spacetime without conceptual difficulty. These facts make it tempting to reconsider whether quantum theory might be reformulated on an underlying classical field structure. This seminar aims to demonstrate that by changing only how boundary conditions (BCs) are imposed on ordinary classical field equations, a psi-epistemic quantum theory naturally emerges. Uncertainty and basic quantization naturally result from imposing BCs on closed hypersurfaces (as in Lagrangian QFT); further quantization results from extending Hamilton's principle to restrict the BCs as well as the field equations. The partial dependence of field parameters on future BCs implies an effective contextuality, naturally avoiding the usual arguments against realistic quantum models. Successful applications to the relativistic scalar field will be presented, further motivating an ambitious research program of reformulating quantum theory in terms of ontic classical fields.


Talk Number PIRSA:09060031
Speaker Profile Kenneth Wharton
Collection Quantum Foundations