måndag 21 oktober 2013

Quantum Contradictions 25: Damned Quantum Jumps!

                 Schrödinger 1955: I am moving against the stream. But the tide will change. 

Schrödinger, the founder of quantum mechanics based on Schrödinger's wave equation, did not like the  pointlike "particles" supposed to make "quantum jumps" as postulated in the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics formed by of Bohr, Born and Heisenberg:
  • If we have to go on with these damned quantum jumps, then I'm sorry that I ever got involved.
But Bohr won the battle in the 1930s and so modern physics was born from an old primitive concept of particles and quantum jumps, instead Schrödinger's educated sophisticated concept of waves and resonances. The result today is a physics in grave crisis with the Nobel Prize this year to the Higgs particle as the final nail in the coffin of a Standard Model of Particle Physics now abandoned by educated physicists:
  • The Standard Model is regarded as a highly “unnatural” theory. Aside from having a large number of different particles and forces, many of which seem surplus to requirement, it is also very precariously balanced. If you change any of the 20+ numbers that have to be put into the theory even a little, you rapidly find yourself living in a universe without atoms. This spooky fine-tuning worries many physicists, leaving the universe looking as though it has been set up in just the right way for life to exist.
  • The Higgs’s boson provides us with one of the worst cases of unnatural fine-tuning. A surprising discovery of the 20th century was the realization that empty space is far from empty. The vacuum is, in fact, a broiling soup of invisible “virtual” particles, constantly popping in and out of existence.
Primitivism may be strong initially but runs out of steam over  time.  Maybe the time for a change of tide is now approaching...may finally the primitive idea of particle will be replaced by the educated idea of wave....

The book Schrödinger's Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics by Michel Bitbol gives an illuminating account of Schrödinger's continued struggle to maintain rationality in an increasingly weird world of elementary particles emerging from the Copenhagen Interpretation.  Read and think! 

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