Chapter

Chaos, Decoherence, and Branching

David Wallace

in The Emergent Multiverse

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199546961
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741418 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199546961.003.0004
Chaos, Decoherence, and Branching

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This chapter is concerned with the technical details of how emergent branching occurs in the Everett interpretation. Accordingly, its focus is on decoherence theory, the branch of quantum physics which studies the effects on macroscopic degrees of freedom of their environment (whether that environment is internal or external). The chapter reviews decoherence theory in a self-contained manner, beginning with the ‘environment-induced decoherence’ approach developed by Joos, Zeh and zurek, and moving on to the more abstract approach of Gell-Mann, Hartle, and Halliwell. The chapter shows that decoherence, in the context of the Everett interpretation, does indeed cause the quantum world to develop an emergent branching structure, though this branching structure is continuous and resists any attempt to quantify the precise number of branches.

Keywords: Everett interpretation; many worlds; emergence; decoherence; chaos theory; consistent histories

Chapter.  15763 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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