torsdag 28 februari 2019

Planck's Desperate Mad Ugly Ad Hoc Trick: The Quantum

Planck's reasoning was mad, but his madness has that divine quality that only the greatest transitional figures can bring to science. (Abraham Pais in The Science and Life of Albert Einstein)

...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... (Planck on the statistical mechanics basis of his radiation law)

Sabine Hossenfelder on Backreaction gives praise to the new book Breakfast with Einstein by Chad Orzel:
  • Physics is everywhere, that is the message of Chad Orzel’s new book “Breakfast with Einstein,” and he delivers his message masterfully.
  • In contrast to many recent books about physics, Orzel stays away from speculation, and focuses instead on the many remarkable achievements that last century’s led to.
Planck was not happy with his desperate mad ugly ad hoc trick of the quantum

Chapter 2 of the book has the title The Heating Element: Planck's Desperate Trick with the objective of describing the birth of quantum mechanics attributed to Planck's (ugly ad hoc) trick of avoiding the apparent ultraviolet catastrophe of classical wave mechanics by introducing the concept of a smallest package of energy named quantum: 
  • This “quantum hypothesis” does the necessary trick of cutting off the amount of light at high frequencies—exactly where the ultraviolet catastrophe happens. 
  • Planck initially introduced the quantum hypothesis thinking it was a “desperate mathematical trick.” 
  • Despite the many successes of his formula and the personal fame it brought him, Max Planck himself was never particularly satisfied with his quantum theory.
  • He regarded the quantum hypothesis as an ugly ad hoc trick, and he hoped that someone would find a way to get from basic physical principles to his formula for the spectrum without resort- ing to that quantum business. 
  • Once the idea was out there, though, other physicists picked it up and ran with it, most notably a certain patent clerk in Switzerland—leading to a complete and radical transformation of all of physics.
I have presented an alternative theory based on finite precision computation, which meets Planck's wish of explaining the black body spectrum from basic classical wave mechanics physics, which is presented on Computational BlackBody Radiation. Why not take a look, and see if you get enlightened? By a physical theory of blackbody radiation.

The idea of finite precision computation is the same as that used in a new explanation of the the 2nd law of thermodynamics discussed in the previous post on Boltzmann and his explanation based on (ugly ad hoc) statistics.

The master of ugly ad hoc tricks is Roger Stone as documented in his new book Stone's Rules. Such tricks can take you to the top of both science and politics! They can give you fame, but evidently not happiness. Another master of this game was the patent clerk in Switzerland, who also was unhappy with his theories, in particular the theory of the quantum he picked up from Planck, which gave him such immense fame:
  • If I would be a young man again and had to decide how to make my living, I would not try to become a scientist or scholar or teacher. I would rather choose to be a plumber or a peddler in the hope to find that modest degree of independence still available under present circumstances.
  • 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.
  • For the most part I do the thing which my own nature drives me to do. It is embarrasing to earn so much respect and love for it. 
  • Why is it that nobody understands me, and everybody likes me? (Einstein in New York Times, March 12, 1944) 
PS1 Often a truth about science, or rather a truth about a shortcoming of some scientific theory, is more honestly expressed in popular science, as the truth of the ugly ad hoc science of the quantum in Orzel's book (because the audience is supposed to be ignorant), than in some professional scientific context hiding the shortcoming in some cover-up (because the audience is supposed to be knowledgable and critical). Therefore it is interesting to read popular science also for a scientist.

PS2 Planck's desperate ugly ad hoc trick (which originates from Boltzmann) has caused a lot of confusion among physicists. For example, quantum mechanics, which is not understood by any serious honest physicist,  is supposed to have some mysterious connection to the quantum of energy of Planck, but the fact is that quantum mechanics is based on Schrödinger's equation, which is a continuum mechanical model and not a discrete model build from small packets of energy. The confusion is exhibited in Real Quantum Mechanics offering a new form of and new view on Schrödinger's equation with the common confusion eliminated.  But it is not easy to get a discussion going on the fundamentals of quantum mechanics, since the confusion is so monumental resulting from a  desperate mad ugly ad hoc trick, supposed to be the foundation of modern physics. No wonder that physics is in crisis. See also Dr Faustus of Modern Physics.

PS3 Recall that it was Einstein who introduced the idea that light is made of discrete chunks of energy $h\nu$ as photons with $h$ Planck's constant in Joulesecond and $\nu$ frequency, in his heuristic Law of the photoelectric effect $h\nu + W = eU$ with $W$ work to release an electron
and $eU$ in electron volt eV with $U$ the stopping potential in volt and e the charge of an electron. I argue in Mathematical Physics of BlackBody Radiation and related blogg posts that the Law is to viewed as a frequency threshold condition, which has no relation to any idea of light as consisting of discrete photons or light quanta, which according to the above quote was also the view of the late Einstein.

The Law shows that Planck's constant $h$ appears as a conversion between energy related to light frequency $\nu$ (in Joule) and electron energy (in eV), for which Einstein received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921 with explicit mention that he did not get the Prize for his theories of relativity). 

PS4 Schrödinger's equation connects energy related to light frequency and electron energy and it is thus no wonder that the Planck constant appearing in Schrödinger's equation is the same as that in the Law of the photoelectric effect. Mathematical Physics of BlackBody Radiation also gives evidence that the Law of the photoelectric effect is a consequence of Schrödinger's equation, within a continuum model without photon particles and reference to Einstein's heuristic argument that a photon of sufficient energy can kick out an electron. 


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