torsdag 25 juni 2015

Modern Physics: Meaningless Sacrifice of Causality, Rationality and Reality?

Hermann von Helmholtz in Conservation of Force (1862-63): Reason we call that faculty innate in us of discovering laws and applying them with thought...there is a kind, I might almost say, of artistic satisfaction,when we are able to survey the enormous wealth of Nature as a regular-ordered whole--a cosmos, an image of the logical thought of our mind.

Modern physics in the form of relativity theory and quantum mechanics was born from a perceived impossibility of solving the following "problems" using methods of classical deterministic continuum physics:
  1. Second law of thermodynamics (irreversibility in formally reversible systems).
  2. Blackbody radiation (including avoidance of an ultraviolet catastrophe).
  3. Existence of a unique aether medium for propagation of electromagnetic waves. 
Boltzmann "solved" 1. by introducing statistical physics, thus giving up classical determinism or causality.

Planck "solved" 2. introducing a smallest quantum of energy, thus giving up the classical continuum of rational mechanics.

Einstein "solved" 3. by freeing electromagnetics from an aether, thus giving up classical coordinates of space and time describing reality. 

In each case the sacrifice of pillars classical physics was monumental and the grandness of the sacrifice was taken as a sign that it was inevitable and thus justified: No physicist would be willing the give up so much, unless it was absolutely necessary, as expressed by Planck excusing his introducing of the quantum:
  • ...the whole procedure was an act of despair because a theoretical interpretation had to be found at any price, no matter how high that might be...
But if one day it shows that 1-3 in fact can be handled using a mild extension of classical deterministic continuum physics, then the monumental sacrifices would be unnecessary and then without rationale.

And yes, it may be that such a mild extension is possible in the form of finite precision computation exposed on The World as Computation.

This connects to Helmholtz' approach to 1. with heat as partly "incalculable" or "disordered" energy as energy with limited capability of being transformed to other forms of ("calculable") energy. This brings us back to the peak of classical physics represented by the mechanism of Helmholtz:
  • Natural phenomena should be traced back to the movements of material objects which possess inalterable motive forces that are dependent only on spatial relations.
  • Science, the goal of which is the comprehension of nature, must begin with the presupposition of its comprehensibility  and proceed in accordance with this assumption until, perhaps, it is forced by irrefutable facts to recognise limits beyond it may not go.
It thus appears to be possible to handle 1. and 2. by classical mechanism modified by finite precision computation. Further, 3. may be handled as suggested by the British physicist Ebenezer Cunningham (1881-1977) by viewing an aether is an immaterial space-time coordinate systems with the observed non-existence of a unique aether medium simply as an expression of the possibility of choosing many immaterial aethers/coordinate systems.

It thus may be that the monumental sacrifices made by modern physicists in order to cope with 1-3, are not necessary, and as such represent human stupidity, rather than heroic victory of the power of the human mind as official truth of modern physics propagated by modern physicists. 

6 kommentarer:

  1. You missed much more severe points than 1 to 3.

    4. The double slit experiment with/without slit detection,
    5. Sequential Stern-Gerlach measurements,

    as starters.

    Don't you think that these experiments are magnitudes more disturbing from a classical point of view?

  2. I do not think that these rather tricky experiments are the reasons for the proclaimed collapse of classical physics motivating modern physics. Do you?

  3. I don't know where you get this "proclaimed collapse" from.

    The experiments shows that there are real physical phenomenon that are (as it seems) impossible to model with classical mechanics/electrodynamics/thermodynamics.

    That, of course, doesn't say that classical physics has collapsed. Classical physics is still useful, and preferred, in a majority of cases that physicist encounter. You just need to know when it is applicable and when not.

  4. No Molly, the whole idea of modern physics is that classical physics cannot describe atom physics, and since the world is built from atoms, classical physics is not the true physics and has to be replaced by statistics, wave-particle duality, complementarity, ultimatelty by string theory and multiversa, all outside classical deterministic rational mechanics, the more crazy and irrational the better. This is a tragedy...

  5. Well...

    Classical physics can not fully describe atomic physics, the Stern-Gerlach experiments, fine structure, hyperfine structure and so on are pointers to that. Please note that these examples are not exhaustive.

    That of course doesn't say that classical physics isn't true physics. Physics is models of reality and observations of reality. Classical physics is applicable for a majority of problems and usually preferred if possible so saying that classical physics is untrue is neither correct or constructive.

    There is no ultimate choice between classical or modern. The question is when one description is preferred over the other. I can not see one constructive reason to make a fuzz about that.

  6. The fuzz is that QM is on shaky ground, see previous post. Physics on shaky ground is shaky physics and there are many reasons to make a fuzz about that, right?