Why bouncing droplets are a pretty good model of quantum mechanics

January 20th, 2014 at 07:01 UTC by Ross Anderson

Today Robert Brady and I publish a paper that solves an outstanding problem in physics. We explain the beautiful bouncing droplet experiments of Yves Couder, Emmanuel Fort and their colleagues.

For years now, people interested in the foundations of physics have been intrigued by the fact that droplets bouncing on a vibrating tray of fluid can behave in many ways like quantum mechanical particles, with single-slit and double-slit diffraction, tunneling, Anderson localisation and quantised orbits.

In our new paper, Robert Brady and I explain why. The wave field surrounding the droplet is, to a good approximation, Lorentz covariant with the constant c being the speed of surface waves. This plus the inverse square force between bouncing droplets (which acts like the Coulomb force) gives rise to an analogue of the magnetic force, which can be observed clearly in the droplet data. There is also an analogue of the Schrödinger equation, and even of the Pauli exclusion principle.

These results not only solve a fascinating puzzle, but might perhaps nudge more people to think about novel models of quantum foundations, about which we’ve written three previous papers.

Entry filed under: Academic papers, Cryptology

4 comments Add your own

  • 1. Ross Anderson  |  January 20th, 2014 at 16:24 UTC

    Coverage on the leading fluid dynamics blog

  • 2. Chris  |  January 22nd, 2014 at 13:35 UTC

    Warning to anyone clicking the above link – the site starts with the word f**k (I did not expect or notice this and triggered a proxy filter at work).

  • 3. Ross Anderson  |  January 31st, 2014 at 11:18 UTC

    The paper’s now also up on the walkingdroplet website.

  • 4. Ross Anderson  |  February 18th, 2014 at 19:15 UTC

    Nice coverage from Sabine Hossenfelder’s blog backreaction.

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