lördag 26 februari 2011

Photoelectric Effect, Einstein, Arrhenius, Nobel Prizes and Global Warming

The idea of Newton that light is a stream of light particles was thoroughly refuted by Young and Fresnel followed by Maxwell in the 19th century, but then surprisingly reappeared in the beginning of the 20th century in the work by Planck on blackbody radiation followed by Einstein's formula for the photoelectric effect presented in his 1905 article On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light:
  • P + W = E with E = h f ,
where P is the kinetic energy of an electron ejected from a surface by incident light of frequency f, W the energy required to release the electron from the surface, and E = h f is the incident energy with h Planck's constant. The essence of the formula is that the kinetic energy P of an ejected electron scales with the frequency f of the incoming light, but is independent of the intensity of the incoming light. Increasing the intensity at a given frequency will cause more electrons of the same kinetic energy to be ejected.

Einstein's formula helped the Nobel Prize Committee out of a seemingly unsolvable dilemma, namely to come up with a motivation to award Einstein the Nobel Prize: In the aftermath of the 1st World War Einstein had rocketed to fame through his New Theory of Relativity for a New World, and the Nobel Committee felt a strong pressure to show its own good intentions for the New World.

However, to award Einstein the Prize for his theory of relativity was impossible because virtually nobody understood it and those few who did, understood that it was not a really a physical theory but rather some form of epistemology.

Finally the Committee, chaired by S. Arrhenius, came up with the following motivation for the 1921 Nobel Prize to Einstein (so cleverly invented by C W Oseen):
  • For his services to theoretical physics, in particular for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect P + W = h f .
The Committee further stated explicitely that Einstein did not get the prize for his relativity theory. By "his discovery of the law" the Committee also expressed that Einstein did not get the prize for his derivation of the law of the photoelectric effect based on light particles, or light quanta later called photons. The Committee did not believe in light quanta and neither did Einstein, as he made clear shortly before his death in 1954:
  • 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.
Einstein thus got the Prize not for something he had done, but rather despite everything he had done, except his "discovery" of the law P + W = h f.

But a law of physics without some form of derivation, is not a law of physics, just some magics,
and so what survived was Einstein's heuristic derivation based on light quanta, which he did not believe seriously in, neither the Nobel Committee, but which the rest of the physics world decided to embrace and worship as the sign of the New World of quantum mechanics based on light quanta.

In this New World light can be both particle and wave depending on the mood of the physicist.
But particle and wave characteristics are contradictory and contradictory physics is confusing physics termed "wave-particle duality", and confusing physics is potentially dangerous physics, in our time appearing as global warming resulting from "backradiation of photons" from
atmospheric "greenhouse gases", endorsed by physics academies around the New World.

Physicists of the New World argue that the law of photoelectricity P + W = h f can only be derived assuming that light is "quantized" into light particles, and since the law is valid, there must be particles of light. QED.

But the logic is weak: How difficult is it to derive a simple linear law of the form P + W = E
expressing an energy balance of energy in = energy out? Is it impossible to derive the law using a wave model of light?

Not at all! There are many possibilities, some of which I explore in the draft of the upcoming book Computational Blackbody Radiation based on my article with the same title in Slaying the Sky Dragon, where I start out deriving Planck's law from a wave model, in contradiction to the accepted "truth" that this is impossible. The basic idea is to model both radiation, high-frequency damping and photoelectricity as different dissipative effects where the precise form of the dissipation does not have to be specified. This conforms with the experience of computational turbulence presented in Computational Turbulent Incompressible Flow where the precise form of the turbulent dissipation have little influence on mean-value outputs.

The argument that you have to believe in a certain (unbelievable) theory, because without that
(unbelievable) theory, some observation appears to be difficult to explain theoretically, is very popular in physics. In climate science the argument is used to "prove that AGW is real", by claiming that without AGW it is impossible to theoretically explain all observed variations in climate, while with AGW everything becomes so evident and undisputable.

(Compare with Clarke's 1st Rule: When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.)

Here the circle closes: AGW is based on a CO2 "greenhouse effect" attributed to S. Arrhenius, who in his presentation speech for the 1921 Nobel Prize gave the Awardee the death-kiss:
  • There is probably no physicist living today whose name has become so widely known as that of Albert Einstein. Most discussion centres on his theory of relativity. This pertains essentially to epistemology and has therefore been the subject of lively debate in philosophical circles.
AGW represented by Al Gore and IPCC was blessed by the Nobel (Peace) Prize in 2007, while
the science of Al Gore and IPCC evaporated with Climategate in 2009. Einstein never recovered
from the Alfred Nobel kiss, neither will Al Gore and IPCC.

Arrhenius was one of several leading Swedish scientists actively engaged in the process leading to the creation in 1922 of The State Institute for Racial Biology in Uppsala, originally proposed as a Nobel Institute.

The logic of physics and the politics of physics are strange.

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