tisdag 22 oktober 2013

Quantum Contradictions 26: There are No Particles!

                                                There are only waves and resonances.
                               There are no Quantum Jumps, nor are there Particles! (H D Zeh)
Niels Bohr brainwashed a whole generation of physicists into believing that the problem had                         been solved... (Murray Gell-Mann)

Schrödinger objected to the ruling Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics based on the concept of particle as a discrete pointlike object and quanta as a discrete packet of energy:
  • Particles are just schaumkommen (appearances).
  • There have been ingenious constructs of the human mind that gave an exceedingly accurate description of observed facts and have yet lost all interest except to historians. I am thinking of the theory of epicycles. 
  • I confess to the heretical view that their modern counterpart in physical theory are the quantum jumps.
  • There is a difference between a shaky or out-of-focus photograph (waves and resonances) and a snapshot of clouds and fog banks (particles and quanta).
Schrödinger claimed that only a wave picture can make sense on microcopic level and that discrete particles and quanta brings in classical macroscopic concepts into a supposedly revolutionary microscopic quantum mechanics, which is contradictory. 

Schrödinger saw modern physics being shaped from a lack of historical connectedness with an old primitive macroscopic concept like discrete particle suddenly being transformed into a new microscopic concept, which was so revolutionary that it was (and is) beyond grasp to everyone except a small inner circle pretending to understand (Gongorism):     
  • The disregard for historical connectedness, nay the pride of embarking on new ways of thought, of production and of action, the keen endeavour of shaking off, as it were, the indebtedness to our predecessors, are no doubt a general trend of our time. 
  • In the fine arts we notice strong currents quite obviously informed by this vein; we witness its results in modem painting, sculpture, architecture, music and poetry. 
  • There are many who look upon this as a new buoyant rise, while others regard it as a flaring up that inaugurates decay. It is not here the place to dwell on this question, and my personal views on it might interest nobody. 
  • But I may say that whenever this trend enters science, it ought to be opposed. There obviously is a certain danger of its intruding into science in general, which is not an isolated enterprise of the human spirit, but grows on the same historic soil as the others and participates in the mood of the age. 
  • There is, however, so I believe, no other nearly so blatant example of this happening as the theories of physical science in our time. I believe that we are here facing a development which is the precise counterpart of that in the fine arts alluded to above. 
  • The most appropriate expression to use for it is one borrowed from the history of poetry: Gongorism. It refers to the poetry of the Spaniard Luis de Gongora (1561-1627), very fine poems, by the way, especially the early ones. Yet also his later poems (to which the term more particularly refers) are well sounding and they all make sense. But he uses all his acuity and skill on making it as difficult as possible to the reader to unravel the sense, so that even natives of Castile use extended commentaries to grasp the meaning safely.
The modernity of the Copenhagen Interpretation was to combine the old idea of discrete particle with the new idea of statistics borrowed from statistical mechanics. Schrödinger objected (but was silenced): 
  • God knows I am no friend of probability theory, I have hated it from the first moment when our dear friend Max Born gave it birth. For it could be seen how easy and simple it made everything, in principle, everything ironed and the true problems concealed. Everybody must jump on the bandwagon. And actually not a year passed before it became an official credo, and it still is.
Bohr, Born and Heisenberg behind the Copenhagen Interpretation are all gone, but Schrödinger is alive and waiting for the right moment to open his mouth again...

2 kommentarer:

  1. To me, the unreality of quantum mechanics is particularly well expressed by noting that, at its core, its strangeness involves--no, requires--the interference, not of particles, nor waves, nor even probabilities, but only of "probability amplitudes" (the absolute value of the square-root of a probability)--which have no physical representative whatsoever, it simply is not a physical property, of any physical object. When I first expressed this, while teaching an introductory course in physics 37 years ago, it was the proverbial light bulb turning on in my mind. Quantum mechanics requires the assumption that physical objects, on the quantum level, are not just describable mathematically, but are only mathematical, not physical at all. "Probability amplitudes" are not, and will never be, a proper foundation for understanding any physical system.

  2. I think the same. But why are there so few who bother at all? Is it because physics has been made impossible to understand in order to avoid questions? But science without questions is dead science.