fredag 30 juli 2010

Einstein, Photons and Backradiation

Shortly before his death in 1955 Einstein confessed:
  • All these fifty years of conscious brooding have brought me no nearer to the answer to the question, “What are light quanta?”. Nowadays every Tom, Dick and Harry thinks he knows it, but he is mistaken. 
In 1922 Einstein received the Nobel Prize in Physics with the following motivation: 
  • ROYAL SWEDISH ACADEMY of SCIENCES has at its assembly held on November 9, 1921, an accordance with the stipulation in the will and testament of Alfred Nobel, decided to independent of the value that (after eventual confirmation) may be credited to the relativity and gravitational theory bestow the prize that of 1921 is awarded to the person in the field of physics who has made the most important discovery or invention to Albert Einstein for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.
The Prize motivation shows that the Nobel Commitee did not believe in Einstein's relativity theory, neither in the photon particles or light quanta used by Einstein in his derivation of the (trivial) law of the photoelectric effect:
  • E + P = h nu .
Why did then the Nobel Committee give Einstein the Prize for the discovery of a (trivial) law, 
while rejecting his derivation based on photons or light particles, because they did not believe in reviving Newton's since long abandoned corpuscular theory of light? 

Because Einstein had become a celebrity after Eddington's supposed experimental verification of the general theory of relativity in 1919. The Committee simply had to give Einstein the Prize for something. But to come up with a motivation showed to be very difficult, because there were so many reasons to not give him the Prize, as indicated in the motivation. Finally, someone came up with the brilliant idea of the discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect. But a law without a convincing derivation is not much of a law to rely on. If you do not believe in the derivation of a law, why should you believe in the law? A physical law is not like native in the woods that you can discover.

Does this matter today? Yes, it does because the supposed "backradiation" underlying the 
supposed "greenhouse effect" is based on the idea that a radiating body is spitting out photon particles, and if there two bodies then they spit at each other, and the one who spits the most wins.

But if there are no photons, as Einstein and the Nobel Committee agreed on, then this description of radiative exchange does not make any sense at all today, as little as in 1921 and 1955.

What can make sense is a wave mechanics description in the spirit of Schrödinger, as explained 
in previous posts on the non-physics of "backradiation", following up the suggestion by Einstein:
  • Would it not be possible to replace the hypothesis of light quanta by another assumption that would also fit the known phenomena? If it is necessary to modify the elements of the theory, would it not be possible to retain at least the equations for the propagation of radiation and conceive only the elementary processes of emission and absorption differently than they have been until now?

For more info on Einstein's Nobel Prize, check Einstein's Nobel Prize, A Glimpse Behind Closed Doors, by Aant Elzinga. A fresh approach to relativity is presented in Many-Minds Relativity
including perspectives on Einstein's life and work.

I am not the only one to question the physical reality of (virtual) photons as light particles (or mass-less charge-less "carrier of the electromagnetic force" according to the standard model of particle physics) :
  • There are no quantum jumps, nor are there any particles. (H.D. Zeh, Physics Letters A 172, 189-192, 1993)
  • ...we do assert that, with a certain natural extension of the term “classical”, all of the light fields, including those currently classified as “nonclassical”, which have so far been produced in the laboratory are, in fact, entirely classical; they are adequately described by the unquantized Maxwell equations.

8 kommentarer:

  1. I think Max Planck was much more impressed by the theory of relativity than he was by the light quanta. Probably because the relativity theory made Maxwells Electro-Magnetism fit together with Newtons Mechanics, at least at a formal level. Later it led Dirac to predict the existence of anti-matter. I can see and appreciate that you share Einsteins passion for metaphysics, however, I'm curious to see if you can substantiate your claim and derive the Greenhouse Effect from the Standard Model of QED.

  2. am not sure why you are anti-photon person, should not things workout the same whether they behave as particles or waves?... anyways, any comments on this?

  3. As an alternative to Quantum Theory there is a new theory that describes and explains the mysteries of physical reality. While not disrespecting the value of Quantum Mechanics as a tool to explain the role of quanta in our universe. This theory states that there is also a classical explanation for the paradoxes such as EPR and the Wave-Particle Duality. The Theory is called the Theory of Super Relativity and is located at: Super Relativity
    This theory is a philosophical attempt to reconnect the physical universe to realism and deterministic concepts. It explains the mysterious.

  4. batt, excellent comment. I think it can be further developed by adding a gravity field and assuming mechanical equilibrium. If it is done I think that the nature of the "backradiation" or "backheating" would fall out neatly as a function of gravity and mass.

    "Som en boll studsar du tillbaks till mig"

  5. As I read your many minds theory, you are still proposing the Newtonian instantaneous gravity field. My alternative theories to GR that attempt to retain a flat space time use light speed or slower gravity propagation to explain gravity's coupling to extended bodies. The sun for instance is 4 light-seconds in diameter, instead of being in newtonian free fall, the gravity of the planets will be "simultaneously" accelerating different parts of the sun, not just with different inverse squared strengths, but from different directions, due to their movements.

    You dismiss the muon/cosmic ray evidence for time dilation, but isn't there also accelerator evidence of increased decay half lives?

    I think you make many valid points in your theory, but there seems to be an antagonism to Einstein that goes beyond criticism and dismissal to the mocking. Is that necessary? One can argue for increased recognition for others without making it personal.

  6. I agree that gravity needs better understanding.
    My criticism of Einstein is not personal (Einstein passed away in 1955)
    and only concerns his relativity theory and photon particles.

  7. I guess you have issues with Feynman, as well?