torsdag 4 april 2013

Einsteinian Contradictions 5

Einstein's relation to quantum mechanics is an example of the contradictory nature of his science: Einstein introduced light quanta or "photons" to explain photoelectricity in one of  his five 1905 "miraculous year" articles, which gave him the Nobel Prize in 1922, but confessed on his death bed:
  • Every Tom, Dick and Harry thinks he knows what a photon is, but they are mistaken.
  • He appears to be a realist as he attempts to provide a description of the world which is independent of perception; 
  • he appears as idealist as he looks on concepts and theories as free inventions of the human spirit, in no way derivable from the empirically given; 
  • he appears as positivist as he regards his concepts and theories as justified only to the extent that they provide a logical representation of relations among sensory experiences. 
  • He may even, Einstein says, appear as a Platonist or Pythagorean, since his research will be guided by the aim of logical simplicity.
  • Einstein’s pragmatism allowed him to feel it possible to promote the two incompatible theoretical structures simultaneously, though making the gesture of calling the photon paper a ‘heuristic point of view’ rather than a formal theory. Despite his unease about the implications for the nature of radiation, he was clear-minded enough to recognise the photon concept as an essential
    part of the fundamental truth, and determined enough to continue to advocate it as
    practically a lone voice for almost two decade.
Einstein's criticism of the statistical aspects of quantum mechanics had reason, but was ambigious since he had himself succumbed to work with statistics of quanta.   

9 kommentarer:

  1. Nobel prize winner WE Lamb Jr says in his article Anti-photon ( "It should be apparent from the title of this article that the author does not like the use of the word "photon", which dates from 1926. In his view, there is no such thing as a photon."
    I have not found an actual definition of a photon. Einstein and others talk about a photon as a quantum of light. Does that mean the photon has a wavelength of 0.7 to 0.9 micron? The photon that is supposed to be emitted from CO2 in our atmosphere, has it a wave length of 14.8 micron? Is there another photon with a wave length of 14.80001 micron? What about the emission at a wavelength of 4.2 micron which is noted in Venus' atmosphere. How small is a photon, or how large is a photon?; how many photons are there -are there infinite numbers? Can each photon be defined by where it originates?
    If one considers X-rays, UV, visible light, IR, microwaves and radio waves part of a continuous electro-magnetic energy spectrum, it is possible to consider amplification and cancellation of energy waves of light and IR as has been experimentally determined for radio waves.

  2. Yes, Einstein was right: nobody knows want is a photon.

  3. What do you think about this: Quantization = boundary conditions. Didn't Fourier teach us that?

  4. Or Quantization = Finite Element Discretization.

  5. I do not think Einstein to be a Positivist. In fact he was a local realist and believed quantum mechanics to be incomplete. He said, prophetically at the 1927 Solvay conference that if quantum mechanics was complete then it likely violated relativity. He was right.

    (By the way the theme of that conference hosted by Lorentz was electrons and photons. Lorentz wanted people to discuss the wave function because he was disturbed that indeterminism might be a property of Nature.)

    However the ideas of Einstein have been put into doubt by two big errors.

    First in 1936 von Neumann "proved" that there could be no deeper theory because those states would not be pure (have dispersion). This error, found by Bell in 1966, misled physics for 40 years and confused a generation.

    Then Bell made his own error. It is generally believed that violation of his inequalities mean that his locality assumption is wrong. I disagree. His spin model of +1 and -1 outcomes is wrong. If you assume that spin has two axes of quantization rather than one, then Bell is repudiated and Einstein exonerated.

    I prefer to stand on the Shoulders of Einstein. Good view which you can find some information about local realism at my blog:

  6. Looks like Lubos Motl completely pnwed you ower at his blog...

  7. In his blog of course, don't you read what's written? :)

    No but seriously, you clearly show in that conversation that you either don't understand what he is writing or that you don't really read what he is writing.

    It's nicely summed up in his response.

    Whether Nature's inner workings resemble insurance companies or bakers or anything else or - most realistically, nothing humans know well - is up to Her not you. We're just learning how things work. You refuse to learn how things work, preferring your prejudices and instincts how they *should* work, which is the main reason why you don't understand anything important about Nature yet.

  8. This is more like religion with reference to "Her" and "Nature's inner workings, nothing that humans know well", than science which is about understanding. Lubos yells that I refuse to learn "how things work" as if he himself knows what he has just said he does not know.