The other day, I mentioned that I had some sympathy for the deBroglie-Bohm interpretation of quantum mechanics, namely an interpretation that there isn’t a wave-function collapse as envisioned by the standard Copenhagen interpretation, but a particle that always exists but is guided by a pilot-wave.
It turns out that there are some people doing experiments with fluid dynamics that seem to show results very similar to the dynamics envisioned by the pilot wave interpretation.
The experiments involve an oil droplet that bounces along the surface of a liquid. The droplet gently sloshes the liquid with every bounce. At the same time, ripples from past bounces affect its course. The droplet’s interaction with its own ripples, which form what’s known as a pilot wave, causes it to exhibit behaviors previously thought to be peculiar to elementary particles — including behaviors seen as evidence that these particles are spread through space like waves, without any specific location, until they are measured.
Particles at the quantum scale seem to do things that human-scale objects do not do. They can tunnel through barriers, spontaneously arise or annihilate, and occupy discrete energy levels. This new body of research reveals that oil droplets, when guided by pilot waves, also exhibit these quantum-like features.
The article notes that most particle physicists aren’t impressed. Despite my sympathy for the pilot-wave interpretation, I can definitely understand why. These are experiments with fluid dynamics, not with actual quantum systems. There doesn’t seem to be any good reason to suppose that these fluid dynamics match the dynamics of actual quantum systems, other than the coincidence of their dynamics matching a possible interpretation of those systems.
Still, the experiments are interesting.