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How Classical Particles Emerge from the Quantum World.

Dieks, Dennis and Lubberdink, Andrea (2012) How Classical Particles Emerge from the Quantum World. [Published Article]

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    Abstract

    The symmetrization postulates of quantum mechanics (symmetry for bosons, antisymmetry for fermions) are usually taken to entail that quantum particles of the same kind (e.g., electrons) are all in exactly the same state and therefore indistinguishable in the strongest possible sense. These symmetrization postulates possess a general validity that survives the classical limit, and the conclusion seems therefore unavoidable that even classical particles of the same kind must all be in the same state--in clear conflict with what we know about classical particles. In this article we analyze the origin of this paradox. We shall argue that in the classical limit classical particles emerge, as new entities that do not correspond to the "particle indices" defined in quantum mechanics. Put differently, we show that the quantum mechanical symmetrization postulates do not pertain to particles, as we know them from classical physics, but rather to indices that have a merely formal significance. This conclusion raises the question of whether the discussions about the status of identical quantum particles have not been misguided from the very start.


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    Item Type: Published Article
    Keywords: Identical particles, quantum particles, classical particles, emergence
    Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Fields and Particles
    Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
    Depositing User: Dennis Dieks
    Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2012 09:26
    Last Modified: 07 Sep 2012 09:26
    Item ID: 9311
    Journal or Publication Title: Foundations of Physics
    Publisher: Springer
    DOI or Unique Handle.: 10.1007/s10701-010-9515-2
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/9311

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