We have hints of a theory beyond quantum physics | Tech News

If you think our best theory of reality is weird you ain’t seen nothing yet, says physicist Ciarán Lee – it could be a fuzzy version of something bigger

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I HAVE a confession to make: I’m bored of quantum mechanics. This is an odd thing for a physicist to admit, but the most successful theory of modern physics has started to leave me cold. Perhaps I have just grown too used to its spooky predictions and its love of randomness. Or it might be the fact that, despite its many successes and the way it has captured popular imagination, there are hints that quantum mechanics isn’t as accurate a picture of reality as some would have you believe.

What really excites me is the idea that it might be no more than an approximation for some deeper, more intriguing theory lying just out of reach. The evidence? There are fundamental questions that quantum mechanics just can’t answer, and theoretical predictions that violate its premises. Coming to terms with such a theory, if one exists, would involve entering a world that makes the weirdness of quantum mechanics seem mundane, one where cause doesn’t have to precede effect and information can be lost forever. Quantum mechanics itself might hold the doorway to this world, if only we could push hard enough to break through.

To move beyond quantum mechanics, we must first look to its birth. At the turn of the 20th century, before the term “quantum” had even been coined, there was a widespread view among those in the know that physics was more or less complete. In 1900, the physicist Lord Kelvin proclaimed that physics was virtually complete, with only minor mysteries left to be solved.

As it turned out, humble …

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