Quantum Mechanics and the Nature of Reality

Course Description

Quantum mechanics posits that the behavior of particles in our universe is necessarily probabilistic and that until measured, observable quantities do not have determinate values. Instead, quantum theory describes particles as waves. The wave function evolves linearly with the Schrödinger equation until measurement. The concept of measurement itself is wrought with philosophical problems. In this course, we will consider the various interpretations of what it means to make a measurement as well as the meaning of the actual wave function.

Traditional undergraduate and graduate courses in quantum mechanics do not typically address the philosophical implications of quantum theory. By studying these philosophical issues, you will find yourself able to appreciate the beauty and intrigue beneath the surface of mathematical formalism. Among the interpretations we will explore are the Copenhagen interpretation, Humean supervenience, Ghirardi-Rimini-Weber theory, multiverse theory, and wave function realism.

Though a large portion of the readings will be concerned with the physical theory of quantum mechanics and its mathematical formalism, the primary focus of the course will be on the philosophical foundations of the theory and its various interpretations and implications. We will use David Griffiths’s Introduction to Quantum Mechanics to introduce concepts of formalism. Our readings will include the work of David Lewis, David Albert, Tim Maudlin, Albert Einstein, Elizabeth Miller, Ned Hall, Nina Emery, and Alyssa Ney, among others.

By the end of this course, you will:
• Explore the intersection between philosophy and quantum mechanics
• Understand what it means to take a measurement
• Understand the difference between science and pseudoscience
• Gain a basic intuition for the mathematics of quantum mechanics


The prerequisites for this course include geometry, two years of algebra, and one year of physics or a comparable course.


Two Sections Available to Choose From:

Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.

Dates: June 27, 2022 - July 08, 2022
Duration: 2 Weeks
Meeting Times: M-F 3:30P-6:20P
Status: Closed
Format: On-Campus
Instructor(s): Leah Jenks
Course Number: 10124

Dates: July 11, 2022 - July 22, 2022
Duration: 2 Weeks
Meeting Times: M-F 12:15P-3:05P
Status: Closed
Format: On-Campus
Instructor(s): Jiwoo Seo
Course Number: 10202