Skip to comments.THE THEORY OF ELEMENTARY WAVES A Causal Explanation of Quantum Phenomena
Posted on 06/16/2003 1:38:57 AM PDT by ThePythonicCow
If in the development of a scientific theory an error is made, further errors will necessarily follow. Each new identification generally assumes the correctness of the theory developed up to that point. If the partial theory is incorrect, any extension will operate to perpetuate its errors, and in the process will generate additional and more extensive errors. Unless the initial error is corrected, the consequence is an endless series of errors piled on errors.
Many such error pyramids have occurred during the history of science, some growing and retaining respectability over a signi...cant time period. Fan- tastic structures have been created. Because each new error, when combined with the prior errors, seemingly resulted in correct predictions, these struc- tures appeared to account for a continually expanding body of phenomena. Only when the resulting theory became patently absurd or was overwhelm- ingly contradicted by experience was the fact of an error accepted.
Perhaps the most notorious example of such a pyramid is the pre-Coperni- can conception of the universe with its mind-boggling combinations of cycles, epicycles, etc., all resulting from the single initial error of having placed the earth at the center of the solar system rather than the sun. Here the error occurred in the very foundation of the theory and, ironically, for that very reason was especially di¢cult to detect.
From a modern day perspective, pre-Copernican cosmology appears ab- surd. Yet from an ancient perspective it appeared quite reasonable. The sky really did appear to rotate about the earth. And once this error was accepted, the errors which followed also appeared reasonable.
Had the pre-Copernicans possessed the mathematical skills of a Kepler, the geocentric model could have been made to give agreement with the mea- sured orbits of the planets, the sun, and the stars, even in Copernicus's time. Geocentric formulas could have been made to `work'--to agree with the measurements--this in spite of the fact that the physical picture was entirely mistaken.
Although it did lead to a major change in the mathematics, the Coper- nican revolution was not, in essence, a change to the mathematics. It was a change to the physical picture of the universe. Pre-Copernican cosmology went wrong due to an error in the physical picture, not due to an error in the formulas per se.
Most scientists today believe that similar error pyramids could not recur-- that the methods of modern-empirical philosophy render this impossible. Any errors that occur, they believe, would quickly be recognized as such.
According to that same modern-empiricism, however--at least in most versions of this philosophy--any discussion of the physical picture under- lying the formulas, as apposed to the formulas themselves, is meaningless. The only meaningful question, it is held, is whether or not the formulas `work'. A modern-empiricist looking at Copernicus's theory, and given the evidence available at Copernicus's time, might well have declared that it was meaningless, or perhaps that it di¤ered from the epicycle theory only in semantics--that Copernicus should have con...ned himself to re...ning the epicycle mathematics rather than inventing a new, meaningless physical the- ory. Had Copernicus himself adopted the modern-empirical standard his discovery might never have taken place.
The prescription to look only at the formulas and not at the physical picture is a virtual guarantee that error pyramids will occur. With enough ingenuity one can almost invariably modify the formulas enough to make them work, even in the presence of serious physical errors. One must always go beyond the `workability' of the formulas and ask if the physical picture expressed by the formulas makes sense. Is the theory free of contradictions? Do the terms used in the theory refer to anything identi...ably real?
Because physicists have not employed this higher standard, another pyra- mid of errors has, in fact, occurred and is still in rapid development today. That pyramid of errors is: quantum mechanics.
Quantum mechanics is widely hailed by physicists as being the most `suc- cessful' theory in the history of physics. And it does appear to account for an enormous range of phenomena, often to an almost incredible degree of accuracy. But, if one steps back and looks at the overall theory, it bears much resemblance to the pre-Copernican ...asco. Indeed, one might well ar- gue that it is much worse. A modern treatise on relativistic quantum ...eld theory makes pre-Copernican cosmology look like a heaven of simplicity.
The gargantuan complexity of quantum mechanics, however, is only one of many troubling aspects of this theory. If one does attempt to examine the physical picture expressed by the mathematics, quantum mechanics forces one to conclude that particles can be in two places at once, or that widely separated events can a¤ect one another instantaneously and by no physi- cal means, or that events can a¤ect one another backwards in time, or that causality is violated, or that some combination of these and other unnat- ural phenomena must occur. The list of such contradictory, non-physical conclusions is long and well known. Di¤erent `interpretations' of quantum mechanics lead to di¤erent sets of contradictions, but contradictions of one kind or another are unavoidable.
Most physicists, faced with these contradictions, have, in e¤ect, thrown up their hands and declared the phenomena in question to be inexplicable. Again, they simply go with the equations because they `work'. They abandon any e¤ort to understand why the equations work or to develop a physical picture of the phenomena. But what must one say of a belief in the existence of inexplicable phenomena? This is a reversion to the ideas of the middle ages--the very ideas supposedly overridden by modern scienti...c methods.
Contradictions can't be eluded by labeling them a mystery (or by any other means). Alleging inexplicability is merely another way of stating that one has been forced into these contradictions. And a theory which necessarily leads to contradictions is a theory which, in fact, and by that very token, does not work.
Many serious physicists--perhaps the majority--have concluded, based on quantum mechanics, that the phenomena of subatomic physics have "re- futed reality" altogether. But if one believes that reality does not exist, or that it is irrelevant to physics, or that physical e¤ects arise from nothing, or whatever else might be meant by the claim to have "refuted reality", one cannot claim to be a physicist. Reality is the subject matter of physics. That quantum mechanics has reached the point of such absurdity as to deny the very existence of its own subject matter plainly shows that something is pro- foundly wrong with this theory. Reasonable scientists can no longer refuse to accept this obvious conclusion.
It is true that much evidence appears to support the correctness of quan- tum mechanics--perhaps more evidence than for any other theory in the history of science. But at the same time, it is equally true that much ev- idence clearly indicates that something is wrong with the theory--perhaps more evidence than for any other (widely accepted) theory in the history of science.
The problem is not one of interpretation. If anything has been learned from the endless attempts at interpretation over much of the past century, it is that no matter how one twists things around, one always ends up with a set of contradictions of one kind or another. For example, if one arranges things so that particles are not two (or more) places at once, as in Bohm's theory,1 one ends up instead with nonlocal potentials. And this conclusion is further supported by the various so-called `hidden-variables' proofs. There- fore, there must be an error in the theory itself as it stands, not merely in the interpretation of the theory. Some physical error, expressed by and contained in the mathematical equations, must have occurred.
Yet, despite the non-physical, contradictory aspects of quantum mechan- ics, we know that the equations correctly predict the experimental measure- ments for all phenomena observed to date (with the possible exception of some phenomena whose nature we do not yet fully understand). No ex- perimental measurements have been known to contradict the mathematical predictions. The equations do, in this sense, `work'. How can an erroneous theory produce this degree of quantitative agreement with experiment?
A single, very simple concept provides the answer. Since the initial discovery of `wave-particle' phenomena with Einstein's ex- planation of the photoelectric e¤ect, it has always been assumed that the waves and the associated particles--if they were thought of as separate ob- jects at all--move in the same direction as one another. Prior to Einstein's theory, light had been thought to be solely a wave. And it had been correctly established that light moves from an observed object to the observer, not the reverse--light is "intromissive", not "extramissive". So, in the Maxwellian wave theory, the wave moved from object to observer. Because Maxwell's theory yielded quantitatively correct results, at least for "classical" phenom- ena, it never occurred to anyone, after Einstein's discovery, to question the intromissive nature of the wave. If light were both a wave and a particle, it was simply assumed that both had to move intromissively, and thus in the same direction as one another.
In any phenomenon, such as Newton's rings, where the wavelike aspect of light is manifest, common sense also seems to dictate that the wave is intromissive. If one turns o¤ the light source, the wave disappears; the wave appears to be coming from the light source. And the observed wavelike pat- tern appears to be that of a single coherent wave originating at the location of the light source. Similar arguments apply to `di¤raction' experiments involving other kinds of wave-particles.
But, in fact, we never directly observe a quantum wave. We only observe the quanta, or particles. (I am assuming for the moment that the waves and the particles are separate objects.) Any detector, including our eyes, responds to the particles, not the waves. Wave patterns appear only as the result of the observation of numerous individual particles. Even in Newton's rings, the wave-like pattern is the product of numerous particle photons. The particles carry the light signal, not the wave.
So, in the case of light, as long as the particles move intromissively from object to observer, the wave might move in either direction and still preserve the intromissive nature of light. A theory with intromissive particle photons and extramissive Maxwellian waves would still be intromissive. Following Einstein's discovery, physicists failed to consider the possibility of such a theory, despite the numerous contradictions which arose as the forward wave theory was developed.
Readers interested in obtaining a copy of Dr. Little's book when it is completed may notify Dr. Little by email at: email@example.com. This would not constitute a commitment to purchase the book; Dr. Little will inform you when the book is completed.
(Excerpt) Read more at yankee.us.com ...
For further links on this theory, see The Yankee Robotics site: THE THEORY OF ELEMENTARY WAVES.
Whether Little's alternative to Quantum Mechanics holds up or not, I am not competent to predict. But at least his critique of modern Quantum Mechanics, and its apparent paradoxes, contradictions and unrealities seems, to me at least, to be refreshing.
Am endlessly fascinated with the philosophical implications of quantum mechanics, though unfortunately I lack the training to comprehend original research and must make do with popular science articles and books.
It seems that the infuriating paradoxes and mysteries associated with QM drive many people to reject it out of hand, but what they come up with in its place is not necessarily as good.
My personal hunch: the mystery of non-locality, if it is ever resolved, hides some very unsettling news for us about the nature of free will; we may not be able to handle the truth. Yes, I am only talking through my hat :-)
Yes, we know this to be true. One such initial error: Bill Clinton elected to -something- in Arkansas. I just hope the endless series of errors part is wrong.
Have you caught the recent book,
The Mind and the Brain?The author attempts to use quantum theory, with its wierd results such as the idea that things don't exist until observed, to rescue free will from what he takes to be essentially naive Newtonian reductionism.
And that is a long way from the entireity of the book's fascination; author talks a lot about the "plasticity" of even the adult brain, indicating that the "map" of the parts of the brain "dedicated" to particular functions is far less ironclad than had been assumed.
The author's name, best I can now recall it, is Jeffrey (or Jeremy?) Schwartz. Something of that sort, if you see it you will I hope recognize it. Book was co-authored by a (female, as I recall) Wall Street Journal writer. Your self-description strongly suggests to me that you may like it.
Well, that I can't tell you, because I didn't read the article. What I meant was that I'd answer any questions about QM.
One thing I can tell you about QM crackpots in general is that they think that all the weirdness comes from the theory, the result of an error in mathematics that can be corrected at a single stroke. In reality, the weirdness is an experimental fact. It can't be "done away with". QM may not be correct, but the correct theory will be weird in exactly the same ways.
This makes about as much sense as the article above.
Gravity moves at the speed of light. It cannot move faster. This is by now well-established, despite the non-physical ramblings of people like Tom Van Flandern, who just plain don't understand relativity--and make a virtue out of ignorance.
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