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“When I take an action on the world, something genuinely new comes out.”

That might sound like a deep remark you’d expect from a practitioner of Zen Buddhism. In fact, it was uttered by Christopher Fuchs, a quantum physicist, during the opening talk of the third “Phenomenological approaches to physics” meeting in Linköping, Sweden, in June. Fuchs, who is based at the University of Massachusetts Boston, said the statement was the “noble truth” needed to make sense of quantum mechanics.

Fuchs is the principal promoter of an interpretation to quantum mechanics known as “QBism”. Coined in 2010 by Fuchs, the term was originally short for “quantum Bayesianism” but has since lost that connection and is now self-standing. According to QBism, experimental measurements of quantum phenomena do not quantify some feature of an independently existing natural structure. Instead, they are actions that produce experiences in the person or people doing the measurement.

For the likes of Fuchs, quantum mechanics is thus not about an already existing world being measured – that’s the “noble truth” part – but is a theoretical guide for predicting what we will experience in future events.

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