A Suggested Interpretation of the Quantum Theory in Terms of "Hidden" Variables. I
The usual interpretation of the quantum theory is self-consistent, but it involves an assumption that cannot be tested experimentally, viz., that the most complete possible specification of an individual system is in terms of a wave function that determines only probable results of actual measurement processes. The only way of investigating the truth of this assumption is by trying to find some other interpretation of the quantum theory in terms of at present "hidden" variables, which in principle determine the precise behavior of an individual system, but which are in practice averaged over in measurements of the types that can now be carried out. In this paper and in a subsequent paper, an interpretation of the quantum theory in terms of just such "hidden" variables is suggested. It is shown that as long as the mathematical theory retains its present general form, this suggested interpretation leads to precisely the same results for all physical processes as does the usual interpretation. Nevertheless, the suggested interpretation provides a broader conceptual framework than the usual interpretation, because it makes possible a precise and continuous description of all processes, even at the quantum level. This broader conceptual framework allows more general mathematical formulations of the theory than those allowed by the usual interpretation. Now, the usual mathematical formulation seems to lead to insoluble difficulties when it is extrapolated into the domain of distances of the order of 10-13 cm or less. It is therefore entirely possible that the interpretation suggested here may be needed for the resolution of these difficulties. In any case, the mere possibility of such an interpretation proves that it is not necessary for us to give up a precise, rational, and objective description of individual systems at a quantum level of accuracy.