Quaternions and the nuclear wave equation

In this blog, we talked a lot about the Zitterbewegung model of an electron, which is a model which allows us to think of the elementary wavefunction as representing a radius or position vector. We write:

ψ = r = a·e±iθ = a·[cos(±θ) + i · sin(±θ)]

It is just an application of Parson’s ring current or magneton model of an electron. Note we use boldface to denote vectors, and that we think of the sine and cosine here as vectors too! You should note that the sine and cosine are the same function: they differ only because of a 90-degree phase shift: cosθ = sin(θ + π/2). Alternatively, we can use the imaginary unit (i) as a rotation operator and use the vector notation to write: sinθ = i·cosθ.

In one of our introductory papers (on the language of math), we show how and why this all works like a charm: when we take the derivative with respect to time, we get the (orbital or tangential) velocity (dr/dt = v), and the second-order derivative gives us the (centripetal) acceleration vector (d2r/dt2 = a). The plus/minus sign of the argument of the wavefunction gives us the direction of spin, and we may, perhaps, add a plus/minus sign to the wavefunction as a whole to model matter and antimatter, respectively (the latter assertion is very speculative though, so we will not elaborate that here).

One orbital cycle packs Planck’s quantum of (physical) action, which we can write either as the product of the energy (E) and the cycle time (T), or the momentum (p) of the charge times the distance travelled, which is the circumference of the loop λ in the inertial frame of reference (we can always add a classical linear velocity component when considering an electron in motion, and we may want to write Planck’s quantum of action as an angular momentum vector (h or ħ) to explain what the Uncertainty Principle is all about (statistical uncertainty, nothing ontological), but let us keep things simple as for now):

h = E·T = p·λ

It is important to distinguish between the electron and the charge, which we think of being pointlike: the electron is charge in motion. Charge is just charge: it explains everything and its nature is, therefore, quite mysterious: is it really a pointlike thing, or is there some fractal structure? Of these things, we know very little, but the small anomaly in the magnetic moment of an electron suggests its structure might be fractal. Think of the fine-structure constant here, as the factor which distinguishes the classical, Compton and Bohr radii of the electron: we associate the classical electron radius with the radius of the poinlike charge, but perhaps we can drill down further.

We also showed how the physical dimensions work out in Schroedinger’s wave equation. Let us jot it down to appreciate what it might model, and appreciate why complex numbers come in handy:

Schroedinger’s equation in free space

This is, of course, Schroedinger’s equation in free space, which means there are no other charges around and we, therefore, have no potential energy terms here. The rather enigmatic concept of the effective mass (which is half the total mass of the electron) is just the relativistic mass of the pointlike charge as it whizzes around at lightspeed, so that is the motion which Schroedinger referred to as its Zitterbewegung (Dirac confused it with some motion of the electron itself, further compounding what we think of as de Broglie’s mistaken interpretation of the matter-wave as a linear oscillation: think of it as an orbital oscillation). The 1/2 factor is there in Schroedinger’s wave equation for electron orbitals, but he replaced the effective mass rather subtly (or not-so-subtly, I should say) by the total mass of the electron because the wave equation models the orbitals of an electron pair (two electrons with opposite spin). So we might say he was lucky: the two mistakes together (not accounting for spin, and adding the effective mass of two electrons to get a mass factor) make things come out alright. 🙂

However, we will not say more about Schroedinger’s equation for the time being (we will come back to it): just note the imaginary unit, which does operate like a rotation operator here. Schroedinger’s wave equation, therefore, must model (planar) orbitals. Of course, the plane of the orbital itself may be rotating itself, and most probably is because that is what gives us those wonderful shapes of electron orbitals (subshells). Also note the physical dimension of ħ/m: it is a factor which is expressed in m2/s, but when you combine that with the 1/m2 dimension of the ∇2 operator, then you get the 1/s dimension on both sides of Schroedinger’s equation. [The ∇2 operator is just the generalization of the d2r/dx2 but in three dimensions, so x becomes a vector: x, and we apply the operator to the three spatial coordinates and get another vector, which is why we call ∇2 a vector operator. Let us move on, because we cannot explain each and every detail here, of course!]

We need to talk forces and fields now. This ring current model assumes an electromagnetic field which keeps the pointlike charge in its orbit. This centripetal force must be equal to the Lorentz force (F), which we can write in terms of the electric and magnetic field vectors E and B (fields are just forces per unit charge, so the two concepts are very intimately related):

F = q·(E + v×B) = q·(E + c×E/c) = q·(E + 1×E) = q·(E + j·E) = (1+ j)·q·E

We use a different imaginary unit here (j instead of i) because the plane in which the magnetic field vector B is going round and round is orthogonal to the plane in which E is going round and round, so let us call these planes the xy– and xz-planes respectively. Of course, you will ask: why is the B-plane not the yz-plane? We might be mistaken, but the magnetic field vector lags the electric field vector, so it is either of the two, and so now you can check for yourself of what we wrote above is actually correct. Also note that we write 1 as a vector (1) or a complex number: 1 = 1 + i·0. [It is also possible to write this: 1 = 1 + i·0 or 1 = 1 + i·0. As long as we think of these things as vectors – something with a magnitude and a direction – it is OK.]

You may be lost in math already, so we should visualize this. Unfortunately, that is not easy. You may to google for animations of circularly polarized electromagnetic waves, but these usually show the electric field vector only, and animations which show both E and B are usually linearly polarized waves. Let me reproduce the simplest of images: imagine the electric field vector E going round and round. Now imagine the field vector B being orthogonal to it, but also going round and round (because its phase follows the phase of E). So, yes, it must be going around in the xz– or yz-plane (as mentioned above, we let you figure out how the various right-hand rules work together here).

Rotational plane of the electric field vector

You should now appreciate that the E and B vectors – taken together – will also form a plane. This plane is not static: it is not the xy-, yz– or xz-plane, nor is it some static combination of two of these. No! We cannot describe it with reference to our classical Cartesian axes because it changes all the time as a result of the rotation of both the E and B vectors. So how we can describe that plane mathematically?

The Irish mathematician William Rowan Hamilton – who is also known for many other mathematical concepts – found a great way to do just that, and we will use his notation. We could say the plane formed by the E and B vectors is the EB plane but, in line with Hamilton’s quaternion algebra, we will refer to it as the k-plane. How is it related to what we referred to as the i– and j-planes, or the xy– and xz-plane as we used to say? At this point, we should introduce Hamilton’s notation: he did write i and j in boldface (we do not like that, but you may want to think of it as just a minor change in notation because we are using these imaginary units in a new mathematical space: the quaternion number space), and he referred to them as basic quaternions in what you should think of as an extension of the complex number system. More specifically, he wrote this on a now rather famous bridge in Dublin:

i2 = -1

j2 = -1

k2 = -1

i·j = k

j·i= k

The first three rules are the ones you know from complex number math: two successive rotations by 90 degrees will bring you from 1 to -1. The order of multiplication in the other two rules ( i·j = k and j·i = –k ) gives us not only the k-plane but also the spin direction. All other rules in regard to quaternions (we can write, for example, this: i ·j·k = -1), and the other products you will find in the Wikipedia article on quaternions) can be derived from these, but we will not go into them here.

Now, you will say, we do not really need that k, do we? Just distinguishing between i and j should do, right? The answer to that question is: yes, when you are dealing with electromagnetic oscillations only! But it is no when you are trying to model nuclear oscillations! That is, in fact, exactly why we need this quaternion math in quantum physics!

Let us think about this nuclear oscillation. Particle physics experiments – especially high-energy physics experiments – effectively provide evidence for the presence of a nuclear force. To explain the proton radius, one can effectively think of a nuclear oscillation as an orbital oscillation in three rather than just two dimensions. The oscillation is, therefore, driven by two (perpendicular) forces rather than just one, with the frequency of each of the oscillators being equal to ω = E/2ħ = mc2/2ħ.

Each of the two perpendicular oscillations would, therefore, pack one half-unit of ħ only. The ω = E/2ħ formula also incorporates the energy equipartition theorem, according to which each of the two oscillations should pack half of the total energy of the nuclear particle (so that is the proton, in this case). This spherical view of a proton fits nicely with packing models for nucleons and yields the experimentally measured radius of a proton:

Proton radius formula

Of course, you can immediately see that the 4 factor is the same factor 4 as the one appearing in the formula for the surface area of a sphere (A = 4πr2), as opposed to that for the surface of a disc (A = πr2). And now you should be able to appreciate that we should probably represent a proton by a combination of two wavefunctions. Something like this:

Proton wavefunction

What about a wave equation for nuclear oscillations? Do we need one? We sure do. Perhaps we do not need one to model a neutron as some nuclear dance of a negative and a positive charge. Indeed, think of a combination of a proton and what we will refer to as a deep electron here, just to distinguish it from an electron in Schroedinger’s atomic electron orbitals. But we might need it when we are modeling something more complicated, such as the different energy states of, say, a deuteron nucleus, which combines a proton and a neutron and, therefore, two positive charges and one deep electron.

According to some, the deep electron may also appear in other energy states and may, therefore, give rise to a different kind of hydrogen (they are referred to as hydrinos). What do I think of those? I think these things do not exist and, if they do, they cannot be stable. I also think these researchers need to come up with a wave equation for them in order to be credible and, in light of what we wrote about the complications in regard to the various rotational planes, that wave equation will probably have all of Hamilton’s basic quaternions in it. [But so, as mentioned above, I am waiting for them to come up with something that makes sense and matches what we can actually observe in Nature: those hydrinos should have a specific spectrum, and we do not such see such spectrum from, say, the Sun, where there is so much going on so, if hydrinos exist, the Sun should produce them, right? So, yes, I am rather skeptical here: I do think we know everything now and physics, as a science, is sort of complete and, therefore, dead as a science: all that is left now is engineering!]

But, yes, quaternion algebra is a very necessary part of our toolkit. It completes our description of everything! 🙂

The physics of the wave equation

The rather high-brow discussions on deep electron orbitals and hydrinos with a separate set of interlocutors, inspired me to write a paper at the K-12 level on wave equations. Too bad Schroedinger did not seem to have left any notes on how he got his wave equation (which I believe to be correct in every way (relativistically correct, too), unlike Dirac’s or others).

The notes must be somewhere in some unexplored archive. If there are Holy Grails to be found in the history of physics, then these notes are surely one of them. There is a book about a mysterious woman, who might have inspired Schrödinger, but I have not read it, yet: it is on my to-read list. I will prioritize it (read: order it right now). 🙂

Oh – as for the math and physics of the wave equation, you should also check the Annex to the paper: I think the nuclear oscillation can only be captured by a wave equation when using quaternion math (an extension to complex math).

The Language of Physics

The meaning of life in 15 pages !🙂 [Or… Well… At least a short description of the Universe… Not sure it helps in sense-making.] 🙂

Post scriptum (25 March 2021): Because this post is so extremely short and happy, I want to add a sad anecdote which illustrates what I have come to regard as the sorry state of physics as a science.

A few days ago, an honest researcher put me in cc of an email to a much higher-brow researcher. I won’t reveal names, but the latter – I will call him X – works at a prestigious accelerator lab in the US. The gist of the email was a question on an article of X: “I am still looking at the classical model for the deep orbits. But I have been having trouble trying to determine if the centrifugal and spin-orbit potentials have the same relativistic correction as the Coulomb potential. I have also been having trouble with the Ademko/Vysotski derivation of the Veff = V×E/mc2 – V2/2mc2 formula.”

I was greatly astonished to see X answer this: “Hello – What I know is that this term comes from the Bethe-Salpeter equation, which I am including (#1). The authors say in their book that this equation comes from the Pauli’s theory of spin. Reading from Bethe-Salpeter’s book [Quantum mechanics of one and two electron atoms]: “If we disregard all but the first three members of this equation, we obtain the ordinary Schroedinger equation. The next three terms are peculiar to the relativistic Schroedinger theory”. They say that they derived this equation from covariant Dirac equation, which I am also including (#2). They say that the last term in this equation is characteristic for the Dirac theory of spin ½ particles. I simplified the whole thing by choosing just the spin term, which is already used for hyperfine splitting of normal hydrogen lines. It is obviously approximation, but it gave me a hope to satisfy the virial theorem. Of course, now I know that using your Veff potential does that also. That is all I know.” [I added the italics/bold in the quote.]

So I see this answer while browsing through my emails on my mobile phone, and I am disgusted – thinking: Seriously? You get to publish in high-brow journals, but so you do not understand the equations, and you just drop terms and pick the ones that suit you to make your theory fit what you want to find? And so I immediately reply to all, politely but firmly: “All I can say, is that I would not use equations which I do not fully understand. Dirac’s wave equation itself does not make much sense to me. I think Schroedinger’s original wave equation is relativistically correct. The 1/2 factor in it has nothing to do with the non-relativistic kinetic energy, but with the concept of effective mass and the fact that it models electron pairs (two electrons – neglect of spin). Andre Michaud referred to a variant of Schroedinger’s equation including spin factors.”

Now X replies this, also from his iPhone: “For me the argument was simple. I was desperate trying to satisfy the virial theorem after I realized that ordinary Coulomb potential will not do it. I decided to try the spin potential, which is in every undergraduate quantum mechanical book, starting with Feynman or Tippler, to explain the hyperfine hydrogen splitting. They, however, evaluate it at large radius. I said, what happens if I evaluate it at small radius. And to my surprise, I could satisfy the virial theorem. None of this will be recognized as valid until one finds the small hydrogen experimentally. That is my main aim. To use theory only as a approximate guidance. After it is found, there will be an explosion of “correct” theories.” A few hours later, he makes things even worse by adding: “I forgot to mention another motivation for the spin potential. I was hoping that a spin flip will create an equivalent to the famous “21cm line” for normal hydrogen, which can then be used to detect the small hydrogen in astrophysics. Unfortunately, flipping spin makes it unstable in all potential configurations I tried so far.”

I have never come across a more blatant case of making a theory fit whatever you want to prove (apparently, X believes Mills’ hydrinos (hypothetical small hydrogen) are not a fraud), and it saddens me deeply. Of course, I do understand one will want to fiddle and modify equations when working on something, but you don’t do that when these things are going to get published by serious journals. Just goes to show how physicists effectively got lost in math, and how ‘peer reviews’ actually work: they don’t. :-/

The End of Physics?

There are two branches of physics. The nicer branch studies equilibrium states: simple laws, stable particles (electrons and protons, basically), the expanding (oscillating?) Universe, etcetera. This branch includes the study of dynamical systems which we can only describe in terms of probabilities or approximations: think of kinetic gas theory (thermodynamics) or, much simpler, hydrostatics (the flow of water, Feynman, Vol. II, chapters 40 and 41), about which Feynman writes this:

“The simplest form of the problem is to take a pipe that is very long and push water through it at high speed. We ask: to push a given amount of water through that pipe, how much pressure is needed? No one can analyze it from first principles and the properties of water. If the water flows very slowly, or if we use a thick goo like honey, then we can do it nicely. You will find that in your textbook. What we really cannot do is deal with actual, wet water running through a pipe. That is the central problem which we ought to solve some day, and we have not.” (Feynman, I-3-7)

Still, we believe first principles do apply to the flow of water through a pipe. In contrast, the second branch of physics – we think of the study of non-stable particles here: transients (charged kaons and pions, for example) or resonances (very short-lived intermediate energy states). The class of physicists who studies these must be commended, but they resemble econometrists modeling input-output relations: if they are lucky, they will get some kind of mathematical description of what goes in and what goes out, but the math does not tell them how stuff actually happens. It leads one to think about the difference between a theory, a calculation and an explanation. Simplifying somewhat, we can represent such input-output relations by thinking of a process that will be operating on some state |ψ⟩ to produce some other state |ϕ⟩, which we write like this:


A is referred to as a Hermitian matrix if the process is reversible. Reversibility looks like time reversal, which can be represented by taking the complex conjugate ⟨ϕ|A|ψ⟩* = ⟨ψ|A†|ϕ⟩: we put a minus sign in front of the imaginary unit, so we have –i instead of i in the wavefunctions (or i instead of –i with respect to the usual convention for denoting the direction of rotation). Processes may not reversible, in which case we talk about symmetry-breaking: CPT-symmetry is always respected so, if T-symmetry (time) is broken, CP-symmetry is broken as well. There is nothing magical about that.

Physicists found the description of these input-output relations can be simplified greatly by introducing quarks (see Annex II of our paper on ontology and physics). Quarks have partial charge and, more generally, mix physical dimensions (mass/energy, spin or (angular) momentum). They create some order – think of it as some kind of taxonomy – in the vast zoo of (unstable) particles, which is great. However, we do not think there was a need to give them some kind of ontological status: unlike plants or insects, partial charges do not exist.

We also think the association between forces and (virtual) particles is misguided. Of course, one might say forces are being mediated by particles (matter- or light-particles), because particles effectively pack energy and angular momentum (light-particles – photons and neutrinos – differ from matter-particles (electrons, protons) in that they carry no charge, but they do carry electromagnetic and/or nuclear energy) and force and energy are, therefore, being transferred through particle reactions, elastically or non-elastically. However, we think it is important to clearly separate the notion of fields and particles: they are governed by the same laws (conservation of charge, energy, and (linear and angular) momentum, and – last but not least – (physical) action) but their nature is very different.

W.E. Lamb (1995), nearing the end of his very distinguished scientific career, wrote about “a comedy of errors and historical accidents”, but we think the business is rather serious: we have reached the End of Science. We have solved Feynman’s U = 0 equation. All that is left, is engineering: solving practical problems and inventing new stuff. That should be exciting enough. 🙂

Post scriptum: I added an Annex (III) to my paper on ontology and physics, with what we think of as a complete description of the Universe. It is abstruse but fun (we hope!): we basically add a description of events to Feynman’s U = 0 (un)worldliness formula. 🙂

A Zitterbewegung model of the neutron

As part of my ventures into QCD, I quickly developed a Zitterbewegung model of the neutron, as a complement to my first sketch of a deuteron nucleus. The math of orbitals is interesting. Whatever field you have, one can model is using a coupling constant between the proportionality coefficient of the force, and the charge it acts on. That ties it nicely with my earlier thoughts on the meaning of the fine-structure constant.

My realist interpretation of quantum physics focuses on explanations involving the electromagnetic force only, but the matter-antimatter dichotomy still puzzles me very much. Also, the idea of virtual particles is no longer anathema to me, but I still want to model them as particle-field interactions and the exchange of real (angular or linear) momentum and energy, with a quantization of momentum and energy obeying the Planck-Einstein law.

The proton model will be key. We cannot explain it in the typical ‘mass without mass’ model of zittering charges: we get a 1/4 factor in the explanation of the proton radius, which is impossible to get rid of unless we assume some ‘strong’ force come into play. That is why I prioritize a ‘straight’ attack on the electron and the proton-electron bond in a primitive neutron model.

The calculation of forces inside a muon-electron and a proton (see ) is an interesting exercise: it is the only thing which explains why an electron annihilates a positron but electrons and protons can live together (the ‘anti-matter’ nature of charged particles only shows because of opposite spin directions of the fields – so it is only when the ‘structure’ of matter-antimatter pairs is different that they will not annihilate each other).


In short, 2021 will be an interesting year for me. The intent of my last two papers (on the deuteron model and the primitive neutron model) was to think of energy values: the energy value of the bond between electron and proton in the neutron, and the energy value of the bond between proton and neutron in a deuteron nucleus. But, yes, the more fundamental work remains to be done !

Cheers – Jean-Louis

The electromagnetic deuteron model

In my ‘signing off’ post, I wrote I had enough of physics but that my last(?) ambition was to “contribute to an intuitive, realist and mathematically correct model of the deuteron nucleus.” Well… The paper is there. And I am extremely pleased with the result. Thank you, Mr. Meulenberg. You sure have good intuition.

I took the opportunity to revisit Yukawa’s nuclear potential and demolish his modeling of a new nuclear force without a charge to act on. Looking back at the past 100 years of physics history, I now start to think that was the decisive destructive moment in physics: that 1935 paper, which started off all of the hype on virtual particles, quantum field theory, and a nuclear force that could not possibly be electromagnetic plus – totally not done, of course ! – utter disregard for physical dimensions and the physical geometry of fields in 3D space or – taking retardation effects into account – 4D spacetime. Fortunately, we have hope: the 2019 fixing of SI units puts physics firmly back onto the road to reality – or so we hope.

Paolo Di Sia‘s and my paper show one gets very reasonable energy and separation distances for nuclear bonds and inter-nucleon distances when assuming the presence of magnetic and/or electric dipole fields arising from deep electron orbitals. The model shows one of the protons pulling the ‘electron blanket’ from another proton (the neutron) towards its own side so as to create an electric dipole moment. So it is just like a valence electron in a chemical bond. So it is like water, then? Water is a polar molecule but we do not necessarily need to start with polar configurations when trying to expand this model so as to inject some dynamics into it (spherically symmetric orbitals are probably easier to model). Hmm… Perhaps I need to look at the thermodynamical equations for dry versus wet water once again… Phew ! Where to start?

I have no experience – I have very little math, actually – with modeling molecular orbitals. So I should, perhaps, contact a friend from a few years ago now – living in Hawaii and pursuing more spiritual matters too – who did just that long time ago: orbitals using Schroedinger’s wave equation (I think Schroedinger’s equation is relativistically correct – just a misinterpretation of the concept of ‘effective mass’ by the naysayers). What kind of wave equation are we looking at? One that integrates inverse square and inverse cube force field laws arising from charges and the dipole moments they create while moving. [Hey! Perhaps we can relate these inverse square and cube fields to the second- and third-order terms in the binomial development of the relativistic mass formula (see the section on kinetic energy in my paper on one of Feynman’s more original renderings of Maxwell’s equations) but… Well… Probably best to start by seeing how Feynman got those field equations out of Maxwell’s equations. It is a bit buried in his development of the Liénard and Wiechert equations, which are written in terms of the scalar and vector potentials φ and A instead of E and B vectors, but it should all work out.]

If the nuclear force is electromagnetic, then these ‘nuclear orbitals’ should respect the Planck-Einstein relation. So then we can calculate frequencies and radii of orbitals now, right? The use of natural units and imaginary units to represent rotations/orthogonality in space might make calculations easy (B = iE). Indeed, with the 2019 revision of SI units, I might need to re-evaluate the usefulness of natural units (I always stayed away from it because it ‘hides’ the physics in the math as it makes abstraction of their physical dimension).

Hey ! Perhaps we can model everything with quaternions, using imaginary units (i and j) to represent rotations in 3D space so as to ensure consistent application of the appropriate right-hand rules always (special relativity gets added to the mix so we probably need to relate the (ds)2 = (dx)2 + (dy)2 + (dz)2 – (dct)2 to the modified Hamilton’s q = a + ib + jckd expression then). Using vector equations throughout and thinking of h as a vector when using the E = hf and h = pλ Planck-Einstein relation (something with a magnitude and a direction) should do the trick, right? [In case you wonder how we can write f as a vector: angular frequency is a vector too. The Planck-Einstein relation is valid for both linear as well as circular oscillations: see our paper on the interpretation of de Broglie wavelength.]

Oh – and while special relativity is there because of Maxwell’s equation, gravity (general relativity) should be left out of the picture. Why? Because we would like to explain gravity as a residual very-far-field force. And trying to integrate gravity inevitable leads one to analyze particles as ‘black holes.’ Not nice, philosophically speaking. In fact, any 1/rn field inevitably leads one to think of some kind of black hole at the center, which is why thinking of fundamental particles in terms ring currents and dipole moments makes so much sense! [We need nothingness and infinity as mathematical concepts (limits, really) but they cannot possibly represent anything real, right?]

The consistent use of the Planck-Einstein law to model these nuclear electron orbitals should probably involve multiples of h to explain their size and energy: E = nhf rather than E = hf. For example, when calculating the radius of an orbital of a pointlike charge with the energy of a proton, one gets a radius that is only 1/4 of the proton radius (0.21 fm instead of 0.82 fm, approximately). To make the radius fit that of a proton, one has to use the E = 4hf relation. Indeed, for the time being, we should probably continue to reject the idea of using fractions of h to model deep electron orbitals. I also think we should avoid superluminal velocity concepts.


This post sounds like madness? Yes. And then, no! To be honest, I think of it as one of the better Aha! moments in my life. 🙂

Brussels, 30 December 2020

Post scriptum (1 January 2021): Lots of stuff coming together here ! 2021 will definitely see the Grand Unified Theory of Classical Physics becoming somewhat more real. It looks like Mills is going to make a major addition/correction to his electron orbital modeling work and, hopefully, manage to publish the gist of it in the eminent mainstream Nature journal. That makes a lot of sense: to move from an atom to an analysis of nuclei or complex three-particle systems, one should combine singlet and doublet energy states – if only to avoid reduce three-body problems to two-body problems. 🙂 I still do not buy the fractional use of Planck’s quantum of action, though. Especially now that we got rid of the concept of a separate ‘nuclear’ charge (there is only one charge: the electric charge, and it comes in two ‘colors’): if Planck’s quantum of action is electromagnetic, then it comes in wholes or multiples. No fractions. Fractional powers of distance functions in field or potential formulas are OK, however. 🙂

The complementarity of wave- and particle-like viewpoints on EM wave propagation

In 1995, W.E. Lamb Jr. wrote the following on the nature of the photon: “There is no such thing as a photon. Only a comedy of errors and historical accidents led to its popularity among physicists and optical scientists. I admit that the word is short and convenient. Its use is also habit forming. Similarly, one might find it convenient to speak of the “aether” or “vacuum” to stand for empty space, even if no such thing existed. There are very good substitute words for “photon”, (e.g., “radiation” or “light”), and for “photonics” (e.g., “optics” or “quantum optics”). Similar objections are possible to use of the word “phonon”, which dates from 1932. Objects like electrons, neutrinos of finite rest mass, or helium atoms can, under suitable conditions, be considered to be particles, since their theories then have viable non-relativistic and non-quantum limits.”[1]

The opinion of a Nobel Prize laureate carries some weight, of course, but we think the concept of a photon makes sense. As the electron moves from one (potential) energy state to another – from one atomic or molecular orbital to another – it builds an oscillating electromagnetic field which has an integrity of its own and, therefore, is not only wave-like but also particle-like.

We, therefore, dedicated the fifth chapter of our re-write of Feynman’s Lectures to a dual analysis of EM radiation (and, yes, this post is just an announcement of the paper so you are supposed to click the link to read it). It is, basically, an overview of a rather particular expression of Maxwell’s equations which Feynman uses to discuss the laws of radiation. I wonder how to – possibly – ‘transform’ or ‘transpose’ this framework so it might apply to deep electron orbitals and – possibly – proton-neutron oscillations.

[1] W.E. Lamb Jr., Anti-photon, in: Applied Physics B volume 60, pages 77–84 (1995).

The true mystery of quantum physics

In many of our papers, we presented the orbital motion of an electron around a nucleus or inside of a more complicated molecular structure[1], as well as the motion of the pointlike charge inside of an electron itself, as a fundamental oscillation. You will say: what is fundamental and, conversely, what is not? These oscillations are fundamental in the sense that these motions are (1) perpetual or stable and (2) also imply a quantization of space resulting from the Planck-Einstein relation.

Needless to say, this quantization of space looks very different depending on the situation: the order of magnitude of the radius of orbital motion around a nucleus is about 150 times the electron’s Compton radius[2] so, yes, that is very different. However, the basic idea is always the same: a pointlike charge going round and round in a rather regular fashion (otherwise our idea of a cycle time (T = 1/f) and an orbital would not make no sense whatsoever), and that oscillation then packs a certain amount of energy as well as Planck’s quantum of action (h). In fact, that’s just what the Planck-Einstein relation embodies: E = h·f. Frequencies and, therefore, radii and velocities are very different (we think of the pointlike charge inside of an electron as whizzing around at lightspeed, while the order of magnitude of velocities of the electron in an atomic or molecular orbital is also given by that fine-structure constant: v = α·c/n (n is the principal quantum number, or the shell in the gross structure of an atom), but the underlying equations of motion – as Dirac referred to it – are not fundamentally different.

We can look at these oscillations in two very different ways. Most Zitterbewegung theorists (or realist thinkers, I might say) think of it as a self-perpetuating current in an electromagnetic field. David Hestenes is probably the best known theorist in this class. However, we feel such view does not satisfactorily answer the quintessential question: what keeps the charge in its orbit? We, therefore, preferred to stick with an alternative model, which we loosely refer to as the oscillator model.

However, truth be told, we are aware this model comes with its own interpretational issues. Indeed, our interpretation of this oscillator model oscillated between the metaphor of a classical (non-relativistic) two-dimensional oscillator (think of a Ducati V2 engine, with the two pistons working in tandem in a 90-degree angle) and the mathematically correct analysis of a (one-dimensional) relativistic oscillator, which we may sum up in the following relativistically correct energy conservation law:

dE/dt = d[kx2/2 + mc2]/dt = 0

More recently, we actually noted the number of dimensions (think of the number of pistons of an engine) should actually not matter at all: an old-fashioned radial airplane engine has 3, 5, 7, or more cylinders (the non-even number has to do with the firing mechanism for four-stroke engines), but the interplay between those pistons can be analyzed just as well as the ‘sloshing back and forth’ of kinetic and potential energy in a dynamic system (see our paper on the meaning of uncertainty and the geometry of the wavefunction). Hence, it seems any number of springs or pistons working together would do the trick: somehow, linear becomes circular motion, and vice versa. But so what number of dimensions should we use for our metaphor, really?

We now think the ‘one-dimensional’ relativistic oscillator is the correct mathematical analysis, but we should interpret it more carefully. Look at the dE/dt = d[kx2/2 + mc2]/dt = = d(PE + KE)/dt = 0 once more.

For the potential energy, one gets the same kx2/2 formula one gets for the non-relativistic oscillator. That is no surprise: potential energy depends on position only, not on velocity, and there is nothing relative about position. However, the (½)m0v2 term that we would get when using the non-relativistic formulation of Newton’s Law is now replaced by the mc2 = γm0c2 term. Both energies vary – with position and with velocity respectively – but the equation above tells us their sum is some constant. Equating x to 0 (when the velocity v = c) gives us the total energy of the system: E = mc2. Just as it should be. 🙂 So how can we now reconcile this two models? One two-dimensional but non-relativistic, and the other relativistically correct but one-dimensional only? We always get this weird 1/2 factor! And we cannot think it away, so what is it, really?

We still don’t have a definite answer, but we think we may be closer to the conceptual locus where these two models might meet: the key is to interpret x and v in the equation for the relativistic oscillator as (1) the distance along an orbital, and (2) v as the tangential velocity of the pointlike charge along this orbital.

Huh? Yes. Read everything slowly and you might see the point. [If not, don’t worry about it too much. This is really a minor (but important) point in my so-called realist interpretation of quantum mechanics.]

If you get the point, you’ll immediately cry wolf and say such interpretation of x as a distance measured along some orbital (as opposed to the linear concept we are used to) and, consequently, thinking of v as some kind of tangential velocity along such orbital, looks pretty random. However, keep thinking about it, and you will have to admit it is a rather logical way out of the logical paradox. The formula for the relativistic oscillator assumes a pointlike charge with zero rest mass oscillating between v = 0 and v = c. However, something with zero rest mass will always be associated with some velocity: it cannot be zero! Think of a photon here: how would you slow it down? And you may think we could, perhaps, slow down a pointlike electric charge with zero rest mass in some electromagnetic field but, no! The slightest force on it will give it infinite acceleration according to Newton’s force law. [Admittedly, we would need to distinguish here between its relativistic expression (F = dp/dt) and its non-relativistic expression (F = m0·a) when further dissecting this statement, but you get the idea. Also note that we are discussing our electron here, in which we do have a zero-rest-mass charge. In an atomic or molecular orbital, we are talking an electron with a non-zero rest mass: just the mass of the electron whizzing around at a (significant) fraction (α) of lightspeed.]

Hence, it is actually quite rational to argue that the relativistic oscillator cannot be linear: the velocity must be some tangential velocity, always and – for a pointlike charge with zero rest mass – it must equal lightspeed, always. So, yes, we think this line of reasoning might well the conceptual locus where the one-dimensional relativistic oscillator (E = m·a2·ω2) and the two-dimensional non-relativistic oscillator (E = 2·m·a2·ω2/2 = m·a2·ω2) could meet. Of course, we welcome the view of any reader here! In fact, if there is a true mystery in quantum physics (we do not think so, but we know people – academics included – like mysterious things), then it is here!

Post scriptum: This is, perhaps, a good place to answer a question I sometimes get: what is so natural about relativity and a constant speed of light? It is not so easy, perhaps, to show why and how Lorentz’ transformation formulas make sense but, in contrast, it is fairly easy to think of the absolute speed of light like this: infinite speeds do not make sense, both physically as well as mathematically. From a physics point of view, the issue is this: something that moves about at an infinite speed is everywhere and, therefore, nowhere. So it doesn’t make sense. Mathematically speaking, you should not think of v reaching infinite but of a limit of a ratio of a distance interval that goes to infinity, while the time interval goes to zero. So, in the limit, we get a division of an infinite quantity by 0. That’s not infinity but an indeterminacy: it is totally undefined! Indeed, mathematicians can easily deal with infinity and zero, but divisions like zero divided by zero, or infinity divided by zero are meaningless. [Of course, we may have different mathematical functions in the numerator and denominator whose limits yields those values. There is then a reasonable chance we will be able to factor stuff out so as to get something else. We refer to such situations as indeterminate forms, but these are not what we refer to here. The informed reader will, perhaps, also note the division of infinity by zero does not figure in the list of indeterminacies, but any division by zero is generally considered to be undefined.]

[1] It may be extra electron such as in, for example, the electron which jumps from place to place in a semiconductor (see our quantum-mechanical analysis of electric currents). Also, as Dirac first noted, the analysis is actually also valid for electron holes, in which case our atom or molecule will be positively ionized instead of being neutral or negatively charged.

[2] We say 150 because that is close enough to the 1/α = 137 factor that relates the Bohr radius to the Compton radius of an electron. The reader may not be familiar with the idea of a Compton radius (as opposed to the Compton wavelength) but we refer him or her to our Zitterbewegung (ring current) model of an electron.

Electron propagation in a lattice

It is done! My last paper on the mentioned topic (available on Phil Gibbs’s site, my ResearchGate page or academia.edu) should conclude my work on the QED sector. It is a thorough exploration of the hitherto mysterious concept of the effective mass and all that.

The result I got is actually very nice: my calculation of the order of magnitude of the kb factor in the formula for the energy band (the conduction band, as you may know it) shows that the usual small angle approximation of the formula does not make all that much sense. This shows that some ‘realist’ thinking about what is what in these quantum-mechanical models does constrain the options: we cannot just multiply wave numbers with some random multiple of π or 2π. These things have a physical meaning!

So no multiverses or many worlds, please! One world is enough, and it is nice we can map it to a unique mathematical description.

I should now move on and think about the fun stuff: what is going on in the nucleus and all that? Let’s see where we go from here. Downloads on ResearchGate have been going through the roof lately (a thousand reads on ResearchGate is better than ten thousand on viXra.org, I guess), so it is all very promising. 🙂

Bell’s No-Go Theorem

I’ve been asked a couple of times: “What about Bell’s No-Go Theorem, which tells us there are no hidden variables that can explain quantum-mechanical interference in some kind of classical way?” My answer to that question is quite arrogant, because it’s the answer Albert Einstein would give when younger physicists would point out that his objections to quantum mechanics (which he usually expressed as some new  thought experiment) violated this or that axiom or theorem in quantum mechanics: “Das ist mir wur(sch)t.

In English: I don’t care. Einstein never lost the discussions with Heisenberg or Bohr: he just got tired of them. Like Einstein, I don’t care either – because Bell’s Theorem is what it is: a mathematical theorem. Hence, it respects the GIGO principle: garbage in, garbage out. In fact, John Stewart Bell himself – one of the third-generation physicists, we may say – had always hoped that some “radical conceptual renewal”[1] might disprove his conclusions. We should also remember Bell kept exploring alternative theories – including Bohm’s pilot wave theory, which is a hidden variables theory – until his death at a relatively young age. [J.S. Bell died from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1990 – the year he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Physics. He was just 62 years old then.]

So I never really explored Bell’s Theorem. I was, therefore, very happy to get an email from Gerard van der Ham, who seems to have the necessary courage and perseverance to research this question in much more depth and, yes, relate it to a (local) realist interpretation of quantum mechanics. I actually still need to study his papers, and analyze the YouTube video he made (which looks much more professional than my videos), but this is promising.

To be frank, I got tired of all of these discussions – just like Einstein, I guess. The difference between realist interpretations of quantum mechanics and the Copenhagen dogmas is just a factor 2 or π in the formulas, and Richard Feynman famously said we should not care about such factors (Feynman’s Lectures, III-2-4). Modern physicists fudge them away consistently. They’ve done much worse than that, actually. :-/ They are not interested in truth. Convention, dogma, indoctrination – – non-scientific historical stuff – seems to prevent them from that. And modern science gurus – the likes of Sean Carroll or Sabine Hossenfelder etc. – play the age-old game of being interesting: they pretend to know something you do not know or – if they don’t – that they are close to getting the answers. They are not. They have them already. They just don’t want to tell you that because, yes, it’s the end of physics.

[1] See: John Stewart Bell, Speakable and unspeakable in quantum mechanics, pp. 169–172, Cambridge University Press, 1987.

Feynman’s religion

Perhaps I should have titled this post differently: the physicist’s worldview. We may, effectively, assume that Richard Feynman’s Lectures on Physics represent mainstream sentiment, and he does get into philosophy—less or more liberally depending on the topic. Hence, yes, Feynman’s worldview is pretty much that of most physicists, I would think. So what is it? One of his more succinct statements is this:

“Often, people in some unjustified fear of physics say you cannot write an equation for life. Well, perhaps we can. As a matter of fact, we very possibly already have an equation to a sufficient approximation when we write the equation of quantum mechanics.” (Feynman’s Lectures, p. II-41-11)

He then jots down that equation which Schrödinger has on his grave (shown below). It is a differential equation: it relates the wavefunction (ψ) to its time derivative through the Hamiltonian coefficients that describe how physical states change with time (Hij), the imaginary unit (i) and Planck’s quantum of action (ħ).


Feynman, and all modern academic physicists in his wake, claim this equation cannot be understood. I don’t agree: the explanation is not easy, and requires quite some prerequisites, but it is not anymore difficult than, say, trying to understand Maxwell’s equations, or the Planck-Einstein relation (E = ħ·ω = h·f).

In fact, a good understanding of both allows you to not only understand Schrödinger’s equation but all of quantum physics. The basics are this: the presence of the imaginary unit tells us the wavefunction is cyclical, and that it is an oscillation in two dimensions. The presence of Planck’s quantum of action in this equation tells us that such oscillation comes in units of ħ. Schrödinger’s wave equation as a whole is, therefore, nothing but a succinct representation of the energy conservation principle. Hence, we can understand it.

At the same time, we cannot, of course. We can only grasp it to some extent. Indeed, Feynman concludes his philosophical remarks as follows:

“The next great era of awakening of human intellect may well produce a method of understanding the qualitative content of equations. Today we cannot. Today we cannot see that the water flow equations contain such things as the barber pole structure of turbulence that one sees between rotating cylinders. We cannot see whether Schrödinger’s equation contains frogs, musical composers, or morality—or whether it does not. We cannot say whether something beyond it like God is needed, or not. And so we can all hold strong opinions either way.” (Feynman’s Lectures, p. II-41-12)

I think that puts the matter to rest—for the time being, at least. 🙂

Signing off…

I am done with reading Feynman and commenting on it—especially because this site just got mutilated by the third DMCA takedown of material (see below). Follow me to my new blog. No Richard Feynman, Mr. Gottlieb or DMCA there! Pure logic only. This site has served its purpose, and that is to highlight the Rotten State of QED. 🙂

Long time ago – in 1996, to be precise – I studied Wittgenstein’s TLP—part of a part-time BPhil degree program. At the time, I did not like it. The lecture notes were two or three times the volume of the work itself, and I got pretty poor marks for it. I guess one has to go through life to get an idea of what he was writing about. With all of the nonsense lately, I thought about one of the lines in that little book: “One must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it. One must transcend the propositions, and then he will see the world aright.” (TLP, 6-54)

For Mr. Gottlieb and other narrow-minded zealots and mystery wallahs – who would not be interested in Wittgenstein anyway – I’ll just quote Wittgenstein’s quote of Ferdinand Kürnberger:

“. . . und alles, was man weiss, nicht bloss rauschen und brausen gehört hat, lässt sich in drei Worten sagen.

I will let you google-translate that and, yes, sign off here—in the spirit of Ludwig Boltzmann and Paul Ehrenfest. [Sorry for being too lengthy or verbose here.]

“Bring forward what is true. Write it so that it is clear. Defend it to your last breath.” (Boltzmann)

Knox (Automattic)

Jun 20, 2020, 4:30 PM UTC


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Well… Thank you, WordPress. I guess you’ll first suspend the site and then the account? :-/ I hope you’ll give me some time to create another account, at least? If not, this spacetime rebel will have to find another host for his site. 🙂

Lasers, masers, two-state systems and Feynman’s Lectures

The past few days I re-visited Feynman’s lectures on quantum math—the ones in which he introduces the concept of probability amplitudes (I will provide no specific reference or link to them because that is apparently unfair use of copyrighted material). The Great Richard Feynman introduces the concept of probability amplitudes as part of a larger discussion of two-state systems—and lasers and masers are a great example of such two-state systems. I have done a few posts on that while building up this blog over the past few years but because these have been mutilated by DMCA take-downs of diagrams and illustrations as a result of such ‘unfair use’, I won’t refer to them either. The point is this:

I have come to the conclusion we actually do not need the machinery of state vectors and probability amplitudes to explain how a maser (and, therefore, a laser) actually works.

The functioning of masers and lasers crucially depends on a dipole moment (of an ammonia molecule for a maser and of light-emitting atoms for a laser) which will flip up and down in sync with an external oscillating electromagnetic field. It all revolves around the resonant frequency (ω0), which depends on the tiny difference between the energies of the ‘up’ and ‘down’ states. This tiny energy difference (the A in the Hamiltonian matrix) is given by the product of the dipole moment (μ) and the external electromagnetic field that gets the thing going (Ɛ0). [Don’t confuse the symbols with the magnetic and electric constants here!] And so… Well… I have come to the conclusion that we can analyze this as just any other classical electromagnetic oscillation. We can effectively directly use the Planck-Einstein relation to determine the frequency instead of having to invoke all of the machinery that comes with probability amplitudes, base states, Hamiltonian matrices and differential equations:

ω0 = E/ħ = A/ħ = μƐ0/ħ

All the rest follows logically.

You may say: so what? Well… I find this very startling. I’ve been systematically dismantling a lot of ‘quantum-mechanical myths’, and so this seemed to be the last myth standing. It has fallen now: here is the link to the paper.

What’s the implication? The implication is that we can analyze all of the QED sector now in terms of classical mechanics: oscillator math, Maxwell’s equations, relativity theory and the Planck-Einstein relation will do. All that was published before the first World War broke out, in other words—with the added discoveries made by the likes of Holly Compton (photon-electron interactions), Carl Anderson (the discovery of anti-matter), James Chadwick (experimental confirmation of the existence of the neutron) and a few others after the war, of course! But that’s it, basically: nothing more, nothing less. So all of the intellectual machinery that was invented after World War I (the Bohr-Heisenberg theory of quantum mechanics) and after World War II (quantum field theory, the quark hypothesis and what have you) may be useful in the QCD sector of physics but − IMNSHO − even that remains to be seen!

I actually find this more than startling: it is shocking! I started studying Feynman’s Lectures – and everything that comes with it – back in 2012, only to find out that my idol had no intention whatsoever to make things easy. That is OK. In his preface, he writes he wanted to make sure that even the most intelligent student would be unable to completely encompass everything that was in the lectures—so that’s why we were attracted to them, of course! But that is, of course, something else than doing what he did, and that is to promote a Bright Shining Lie


Long time ago, I took the side of Bill Gates in the debate on Feynman’s qualities as a teacher. For Bill Gates, Feynman was, effectively, “the best teacher he never had.” One of those very bright people who actually had him as a teacher (John F. McGowan, PhD and math genius) paints a very different picture, however. I would take the side of McGowan in this discussion now—especially when it turns out that Mr. Feynman’s legacy can apparently no longer be freely used as a reference anyway.

Philip Anderson and Freeman Dyson died this year—both at the age of 96. They were the last of what is generally thought of as a brilliant generation of quantum physicists—the third generation, we might say. May they all rest in peace.

Post scriptum: In case you wonder why I refer to them as the third rather than the second generation: I actually consider Heisenberg’s generation to be the second generation of quantum physicists—first was the generation of the likes of Einstein!

As for the (intended) irony in my last remarks, let me quote from an interesting book on the state of physics that was written by Doris Teplitz back in 1982: “The state of the classical electromagnetic theory reminds one of a house under construction that was abandoned by its working workmen upon receiving news of an approaching plague. The plague was in this case, of course, quantum theory.” I now very much agree with this bold statement. So… Well… I think I’ve had it with studying Feynman’s Lectures. Fortunately, I spent only ten years on them or so. Academics have to spend their whole life on what Paul Ehrenfest referred to as the ‘unendlicher Heisenberg-Born-Dirac-Schrödinger Wurstmachinen-Physik-Betrieb.:-/

Neutrons as composite particles and electrons as gluons?

Neutrons as composite particles

In our rather particular conception of the world, we think of photons, electrons, and protons – and neutrinos – as elementary particles. Elementary particles are, obviously, stable: they would not be elementary, otherwise. The difference between photons and neutrinos on the one hand, and electrons, protons, and other matter-particles on the other, is that we think all matter-particles carry charge—even if they are neutral.

Of course, to be neutral, one must combine positive and negative charge: neutral particles can, therefore, not be elementary—unless we accept the quark hypothesis, which we do not like to do (not now, at least). A neutron must, therefore, be an example of a neutral (composite) matter-particle. We know it is unstable outside of the nucleus but its longevity – as compared to other non-stable particles – is quite remarkable: it survives about 15 minutes—for other unstable particles, we usually talk about micro- or nano-seconds, or worse!

Let us explore what the neutron might be—if only to provide some kind of model for analyzing other unstable particle, perhaps. We should first note that the neutron radius is about the same as that of a proton. How do we know this? NIST only gives the rms charge radius for a proton based on the various proton radius measurements. We, therefore, only have a CODATA value for the Compton wavelength for a neutron, which is more or less the same as that for the proton. To be precise, the two values are this:

λneutron = 1.31959090581(75)10-15 m

λproton = 1.32140985539(40)×10-15 m

These values are just mechanical calculations based on the mass or energy of protons and neutrons respectively: the Compton wavelength is, effectively, calculated as λ = h/mc.[1] However, you should, of course, not only rely on CODATA values only: you should google for experiments measuring the size of a neutron directly or indirectly to get an idea of what is going on here.

Let us look at the energies. The neutron’s energy is about 939,565,420 eV. The proton energy is about 938,272,088 eV. Hence, the difference is about 1,293,332 eV. This mass difference, combined with the fact that neutrons spontaneously decay into protons but – conversely – there is no such thing as spontaneous proton decay[2], confirms we are probably justified in thinking that a neutron must, somehow, combine a proton and an electron. The mass of an electron is 0.511 MeV/c2, so that is only about 40% of the energy difference, but the kinetic and binding energy could make up for the remainder.[3]

So, yes, we will want to think of a neutron as carrying both positive and negative charge inside. These charges balance each other out (there is no net electric charge) but their respective motion still yields a small magnetic moment, which we think of as some net result from the motion of the positive and negative charge inside.

Let us now move to the next grand idea which emerges here.

Electrons as gluons?

The negative charge inside of a neutron may help to keep the nucleus together. We can, therefore, think of this charge as some kind of nuclear glue. We tentatively explored this idea in a paper: Electrons as gluons? The basic idea is this: the electromagnetic force keeps electrons close to the positively charged nucleus and we should, therefore, not exclude that a similar arrangement of positive and negative charges – but one involving some strong(er) force to explain the difference in scale – might exist within the nucleus.

Nonsense? We don’t think so. Consider this: one never finds a proton pair without one or more neutrons. The main isotope of helium (4He), for example, has a nucleus consisting of two protons and two neutrons, while a helium-3 (3He) nucleus consists of two protons and one neutron. When we find a pair of nucleons, like in deuterium (2H), this will always consist of a proton and a neutron. The idea of a negative charge acting as an in-between to keep two positive charges together is, therefore, quite logical. Think of it as the opposite of a positively charged nucleus keeping electrons together in a multi-electron atom.

Does this make sense to you? It does to me, so I’d appreciate any converging or diverging thoughts you might have on this. 🙂

[1] The reader should note that the Compton wavelength and, therefore, the Compton radius is inversely proportional to the mass: a more massive particle is, therefore, associated with a smaller radius. This is somewhat counterintuitive but it is what it is.

[2] None of the experiments (think of the Super-Kamiokande detector here) found any evidence of proton decay so far.

[3] The reader should note that the mass of a proton and an electron add up to less than the mass of a neutron, which is why it is only logical that a neutron should decay into a proton and an electron. Binding energies – think of Feynman’s calculations of the radius of the hydrogen atom, for example – are usually negative.

The mystery of the elementary charge

As part of my ‘debunking quantum-mechanical myths’ drive, I re-wrote Feynman’s introductory lecture on quantum mechanics. Of course, it has got nothing to do with Feynman’s original lecture—titled: on Quantum Behavior: I just made some fun of Feynman’s preface and that’s basically it in terms of this iconic reference. Hence, Mr. Gottlieb should not make too much of a fuss—although I hope he will, of course, because it would draw more attention to the paper. It was a fun exercise because it encouraged me to join an interesting discussion on ResearchGate (I copied the topic and some up and down below) which, in turn, made me think some more about what I wrote about the form factor in the explanation of the electron, muon and proton. Let me copy the relevant paragraph:

When we talked about the radius of a proton, we promised you we would talk some more about the form factor. The idea is very simple: an angular momentum (L) can always be written as the product of a moment of inertia (I) and an angular frequency (ω). We also know that the moment of inertia for a rotating mass or a hoop is equal to I = mr2, while it is equal to I = mr2/4 for a solid disk. So you might think this explains the 1/4 factor: a proton is just an anti-muon but in disk version, right? It is like a muon because of the strong force inside, but it is even smaller because it packs its charge differently, right?

Maybe. Maybe not. We think probably not. Maybe you will have more luck when playing with the formulas but we could not demonstrate this. First, we must note, once again, that the radius of a muon (about 1.87 fm) and a proton (0.83-0.84 fm) are both smaller than the radius of the pointlike charge inside of an electron (α·ħ/mec ≈ 2.818 fm). Hence, we should start by suggesting how we would pack the elementary charge into a muon first!

Second, we noted that the proton mass is 8.88 times that of the muon, while the radius is only 2.22 times smaller – so, yes, that 1/4 ratio once more – but these numbers are still weird: even if we would manage to, somehow, make abstraction of this form factor by accounting for the different angular momentum of a muon and a proton, we would probably still be left with a mass difference we cannot explain in terms of a unique force geometry.

Perhaps we should introduce other hypotheses: a muon is, after all, unstable, and so there may be another factor there: excited states of electrons are unstable too and involve an n = 2 or some other number in Planck’s E = n·h·f equation, so perhaps we can play with that too.

Our answer to such musings is: yes, you can. But please do let us know if you have more luck then us when playing with these formulas: it is the key to the mystery of the strong force, and we did not find it—so we hope you do!

So… Well… This is really as far as a realist interpretation of quantum mechanics will take you. One can solve most so-called mysteries in quantum mechanics (interference of electrons, tunneling and what have you) with plain old classical equations (applying Planck’s relation to electromagnetic theory, basically) but here we are stuck: the elementary charge itself is a most mysterious thing. When packing it into an electron, a muon or a proton, Nature gives it a very different shape and size.

The shape or form factor is related to the angular momentum, while the size has got to do with scale: the scale of a muon and proton is very different than that of an electron—smaller even than the pointlike Zitterbewegung charge which we used to explain the electron. So that’s where we are. It’s like we’ve got two quanta—rather than one only: Planck’s quantum of action, and the elementary charge. Indeed, Planck’s quantum of action may also be said to express itself itself very differently in space or in time (h = E·T versus h = p·λ). Perhaps there is room for additional simplification, but I doubt it. Something inside of me says that, when everything is said and done, I will just have to accept that electrons are electrons, and protons are protons, and a muon is a weird unstable thing in-between—and all other weird unstable things in-between are non-equilibrium states which one cannot explain with easy math.

Would that be good enough? For you? I cannot speak for you. Is it a good enough explanation for me? I am not sure. I have not made my mind up yet. I am taking a bit of a break from physics for the time being, but the question will surely continue to linger in the back of my mind. We’ll keep you updated on progress ! Thanks for staying tuned ! JL

PS: I realize the above might sound a bit like crackpot theory but that is just because it is very dense and very light writing at the same time. If you read the paper in full, you should be able to make sense of it. 🙂 You should also check the formulas for the moments of inertia: the I = mr2/4 formula for a solid disk depends on your choice of the axis of symmetry.

Research Gate

Peter Jackson

Dear Peter – Thanks so much for checking the paper and your frank comments. That is very much appreciated. I know I have gone totally overboard in dismissing much of post-WW II developments in quantum physics – most notably the idea of force-carrying particles (bosons – including Higgs, W/Z bosons and gluons). My fundamental intuition here is that field theories should be fine for modeling interactions (I’ll quote Dirac’s 1958 comments on that at the very end of my reply here) and, yes, we should not be limiting the idea of a field to EM fields only. So I surely do not want to give the impression I think classical 19th/early 20th century physics – Planck’s relation, electromagnetic theory and relativity – can explain everything.

Having said that, the current state of physics does resemble the state of scholastic philosophy before it was swept away by rationalism: I feel there has been a multiplication of ill-defined concepts that did not add much additional explanation of what might be the case (the latter expression is Wittgenstein’s definition of reality). So, yes, I feel we need some reincarnation of William of Occam to apply his Razor and kick ass. Fortunately, it looks like there are many people trying to do exactly that now – a return to basics – so that’s good: I feel like I can almost hear the tectonic plates moving. 🙂

My last paper is a half-serious rewrite of Feynman’s first Lecture on Quantum Mechanics. Its intention is merely provocative: I want to highlight what of the ‘mystery’ in quantum physics is truly mysterious and what is humbug or – as Feynman would call it – Cargo Cult Science. The section on the ‘form factor’ (what is the ‘geometry’ of the strong force?) in that paper is the shortest and most naive paragraph in that text but it actually does highlight the one and only question that keeps me awake: what is that form factor, what different geometry do we need to explain a proton (or a muon) as opposed to, say, an electron? I know I have to dig into the kind of stuff that you are highlighting – and Alex Burinskii’s Dirac-Kerr-Newman models (also integrating gravity) to find elements that – one day – may explain why a muon is not an electron, and why a proton is not a positron.

Indeed, I think the electron and photon model are just fine: classical EM and Planck’s relation are all that’s needed and so I actually don’t waste to more time on the QED sector. But a decent muon and proton model will, obviously, require ”something else’ than Planck’s relation, the electric charge and electromagnetic theory. The question here is: what is that ‘something else’, exactly?

Even if we find another charge or another field theory to explain the proton, then we’re just at the beginning of explaining the QCD sector. Indeed, the proton and muon are stable (fairly stable – I should say – in case of the muon – which I want to investigate because of the question of matter generations). In contrast, transient particles and resonances do not respect Planck’s relation – that’s why they are unstable – and so we are talking non-equilibrium states and so that’s an entirely different ballgame. In short, I think Dirac’s final words in the very last (fourth) edition of his ‘Principles of Quantum Mechanics’ still ring very true today. They were written in 1958 so Dirac was aware of the work of Gell-Man and Nishijima (the contours of quark-gluon theory) and, clearly, did not think much of it (I understand he also had conversations with Feynman on this):

“Quantum mechanics may be defined as the application of equations of motion to particles. […] The domain of applicability of the theory is mainly the treatment of electrons and other charged particles interacting with the electromagnetic field⎯a domain which includes most of low-energy physics and chemistry.

Now there are other kinds of interactions, which are revealed in high-energy physics and are important for the description of atomic nuclei. These interactions are not at present sufficiently well understood to be incorporated into a system of equations of motion. Theories of them have been set up and much developed and useful results obtained from them. But in the absence of equations of motion these theories cannot be presented as a logical development of the principles set up in this book. We are effectively in the pre-Bohr era with regard to these other interactions. It is to be hoped that with increasing knowledge a way will eventually be found for adapting the high-energy theories into a scheme based on equations of motion, and so unifying them with those of low-energy physics.”

Again, many thanks for reacting and, yes, I will study the references you gave – even if I am a bit skeptical of Wolfram’s new project. Cheers – JL

Paul Ehrenfest and the search for truth

On 25 September 1933, Paul Ehrenfest took his son Wassily, who was suffering from Down syndrome, for a walk in the park. He shot him, and then killed himself. He was only 53. That’s my age bracket. From the letters he left (here is a summary in Dutch), we know his frustration of not being able to arrive at some kind of common-sense interpretation of the new quantum physics played a major role in the anxiety that had brought him to this point. He had taken courses from Ludwig Boltzmann as an aspiring young man. We, therefore, think Boltzmann’s suicide – for similar reasons – might have troubled him too.

His suicide did not come unexpectedly: he had announced it. In one of his letters to Einstein, he complains about ‘indigestion’ from the ‘unendlicher Heisenberg-Born-Dirac-Schrödinger Wurstmachinen-Physik-Betrieb.’ I’ll let you google-translate that. :-/ He also seems to have gone through the trouble of summarizing all his questions on the new approach in an article in what was then one of the top journals for physics: Einige die Quantenmechanik betreffende Erkundigungsfrage, Zeitschrift für Physik 78 (1932) 555-559 (quoted in the above-mentioned review article). This I’ll translate: Some Questions about Quantum Mechanics.


Paul Ehrenfest in happier times (painting by Harm Kamerlingh Onnes in 1920)

A diplomat-friend of mine once remarked this: “It is good you are studying physics only as a pastime. Professional physicists are often troubled people—miserable.” It is an interesting observation from a highly intelligent outsider. To be frank, I understand this strange need to probe things at the deepest level—to be able to explain what might or might not be the case (I am using Wittgenstein’s definition of reality here). Even H.A. Lorentz, who – fortunately, perhaps – died before his successor did what he did, was becoming quite alarmist about the sorry state of academic physics near the end of his life—and he, Albert Einstein, and so many others were not alone. Not then, and not now. All of the founding fathers of quantum mechanics ended up becoming pretty skeptical about the theory they had created. We have documented that elsewhere so we won’t talk too much about it here. Even John Stewart Bell himself – one of the third generation of quantum physicists, we may say – did not like his own ‘No Go Theorem’ and thought that some “radical conceptual renewal”[1] might disprove his conclusions.

The Born-Heisenberg revolution has failed: most – if not all – of contemporary high-brow physicist are pursuing alternative theories—in spite, or because, of the academic straitjackets they have to wear. If a genius like Ehrenfest didn’t buy it, then I won’t buy it either. Furthermore, the masses surely don’t buy it and, yes, truth – in this domain too – is, fortunately, being defined more democratically nowadays. The Nobel Prize Committee will have to do some serious soul-searching—if not five years from now, then ten.

We feel sad for the physicists who died unhappily—and surely for those who took their life out of depression—because the common-sense interpretation they were seeking is so self-evident: de Broglie’s intuition in regard to matter being wavelike was correct. He just misinterpreted its nature: it is not a linear but a circular wave. We quickly insert the quintessential illustration (courtesy of Celani, Vassallo and Di Tommaso) but we refer the reader for more detail to our articles or – more accessible, perhaps – our manuscript for the general public.

aa 2

The equations are easy. The mass of an electron – any matter-particle, really – is the equivalent mass of the oscillation of the charge it carries. This oscillation is, most probably, statistically regular only. So we think it’s chaotic, actually, but we also think the words spoken by Lord Pollonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet apply to it: “Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t.” This means we can meaningfully speak of a cycle time and, therefore, of a frequency. Erwin Schrödinger stumbled upon this motion while exploring solutions to Dirac’s wave equation for free electrons, and Dirac immediately grasped the significance of Schrödinger’s discovery, because he mentions Schrödinger’s discovery rather prominently in his Nobel Prize Lecture:

“It is found that an electron which seems to us to be moving slowly, must actually have a very high frequency oscillatory motion of small amplitude superposed on the regular motion which appears to us. As a result of this oscillatory motion, the velocity of the electron at any time equals the velocity of light. This is a prediction which cannot be directly verified by experiment, since the frequency of the oscillatory motion is so high and its amplitude is so small. But one must believe in this consequence of the theory, since other consequences of the theory which are inseparably bound up with this one, such as the law of scattering of light by an electron, are confirmed by experiment.” (Paul A.M. Dirac, Theory of Electrons and Positrons, Nobel Lecture, December 12, 1933)

Unfortunately, Dirac confuses the concept of the electron as a particle with the concept of the (naked) charge inside. Indeed, the idea of an elementary (matter-)particle must combine the idea of a charge and its motion to account for both the particle- as well as the wave-like character of matter-particles. We do not want to dwell on all of this because we’ve written too many papers on this already. We just thought it would be good to sum up the core of our common-sense interpretation of physics. Why? To honor Boltzmann and Ehrenfest: I think of their demise as a sacrifice in search for truth.


OK. That sounds rather tragic—sorry for that! For the sake of brevity, we will just describe the electron here.

I. Planck’s quantum of action (h) and the speed of light (c) are Nature’s most fundamental constants. Planck’s quantum of action relates the energy of a particle to its cycle time and, therefore, to its frequency:

(1) h = E·T = E/f ⇔ ħ = E/ω

The charge that is whizzing around inside of the electron has zero rest mass, and so it whizzes around at the speed of light: the slightest force on it gives it an infinite acceleration. It, therefore, acquires a relativistic mass which is equal to mγ = me/2 (we refer to our paper(s) for a relativistically correct geometric argument). The momentum of the pointlike charge, in its circular or orbital motion, is, therefore, equal to p = mγ·c = me·c/2.

The (angular) frequency of the oscillation is also given by the formula for the (angular) velocity:

(2) c = a·ω ⇔ ω = c/a

While Eq. (1) is a fundamental law of Nature, Eq. (2) is a simple geometric or mathematical relation only.

II. From (1) and (2), we can now calculate the radius of this tiny circular motion as:

(3a) ħ = E/ω = E·a/c a = (ħ·c)/E

Because we know the mass of the electron is the inertial mass of the state of motion of the pointlike charge, we may use Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence relation to rewrite this as the Compton radius of the electron:

(3b) a = (ħ·c)/E = (ħ·c)/(me·c2) = ħ/(me·c)

Note that we only used two fundamental laws of Nature so far: the Planck-Einstein relation and Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence relation.

III. We must also be able to express the Planck-Einstein quantum as the product of the momentum (p) of the pointlike charge and some length λ:

(4) h = p·λ

The question here is: what length? The circumference of the loop, or its radius? The same geometric argument we used to derive the effective mass of the pointlike charge as it whizzes around at lightspeed around its center, tells us the centripetal force acts over a distance that is equal to two times the radius. Indeed, the relevant formula for the centripetal force is this:

(5) F = (mγ/me)·(E/a) = E/2a

We can therefore reduce Eq. (4) by dividing it by 2π. We then get reduced, angular or circular (as opposed to linear) concepts:

(6) ħ = (p·λ)/(2π) = (me·c/2)·(λ/π) = (me·c/2)·(2a) = me·c·a ⇔ ħ/a = me·c

We can verify the logic of our reasoning by substituting for the Compton radius:

ħ = p·λ = me·c·= me·c·a = me·c·ħ/(me·c) = ħ

IV. We can, finally, re-confirm the logic of our reason by re-deriving Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence relation as well as the Planck-Einstein relation using the ω = c/a and the ħ/a = me·c relations:

(7) ħ·ω = ħ·c/a = (ħ/ac = (me·cc = me·c2 = E

Of course, we note all of the formulas we have derived are interdependent. We, therefore, have no clear separation between axioms and derivations here. If anything, we are only explaining what Nature’s most fundamental laws (the Planck-Einstein relation and Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence relation) actually mean or represent. As such, all we have is a simple description of reality itself—at the smallest scale, of course! Everything that happens at larger scales involves Maxwell’s equations: that’s all electromagnetic in nature. No need for strong or weak forces, or for quarks—who invented that? Ehrenfest, Lorentz and all who suffered with truly understanding the de Broglie’s concept of the matter-wave might have been happier physicists if they would have seen these simple equations!

The gist of the matter is this: the intuition of Einstein and de Broglie in regard to the wave-nature of matter was, essentially, correct. However, de Broglie’s modeling of it as a wave packet was not: modeling matter-particles as some linear oscillation does not do the trick. It is extremely surprising no one thought of trying to think of some circular oscillation. Indeed, the interpretation of the elementary wavefunction as representing the mentioned Zitterbewegung of the electric charge solves all questions: it amounts to interpreting the real and imaginary part of the elementary wavefunction as the sine and cosine components of the orbital motion of a pointlike charge. We think that, in our 60-odd papers, we’ve shown such easy interpretation effectively does the trick of explaining all of the quantum-mechanical weirdness but, of course, it is up to our readers to judge that. 🙂

[1] See: John Stewart Bell, Speakable and unspeakable in quantum mechanics, pp. 169–172, Cambridge University Press, 1987 (quoted from Wikipedia). J.S. Bell died from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1990 – the year he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Physics and which he, therefore, did not receive (Nobel Prizes are not awarded posthumously). He was just 62 years old then.

Re-writing Feynman’s Lectures?

I have a crazy new idea: a complete re-write of Feynman’s Lectures. It would be fun, wouldn’t it? I would follow the same structure—but start with Volume III, of course: the lectures on quantum mechanics. We could even re-use some language—although we’d need to be careful so as to keep Mr. Michael Gottlieb happy, of course. 🙂 What would you think of the following draft Preface, for example?

The special problem we try to get at with these lectures is to maintain the interest of the very enthusiastic and rather smart people trying to understand physics. They have heard a lot about how interesting and exciting physics is—the theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, and other modern ideas—and spend many years studying textbooks or following online courses. Many are discouraged because there are really very few grand, new, modern ideas presented to them. The problem is whether or not we can make a course which would save them by maintaining their enthusiasm.

The lectures here are not in any way meant to be a survey course, but are very serious. I thought it would be best to re-write Feynman’s Lectures to make sure that most of the above-mentioned enthusiastic and smart people would be able to encompass (almost) everything that is in the lectures. 🙂

This is the link to Feynman’s original Preface, so you can see how my preface compares to his: same-same but very different, they’d say in Asia. 🙂


Doesn’t that sound like a nice project? 🙂

Jean Louis Van Belle, 22 May 2020

Post scriptum: It looks like we made Mr. Gottlieb and/or MIT very unhappy already: the link above does not work for us anymore (see what we get below). That’s very good: it is always nice to start a new publishing project with a little controversy. 🙂 We will have to use the good old paper print edition. We recommend you buy one too, by the way. 🙂 I think they are just a bit over US$100 now. Well worth it!

To put the historical record straight, the reader should note we started this blog before Mr. Gottlieb brought Feynman’s Lectures online. We actually wonder why he would be bothered by us referring to it. That’s what classical textbooks are for, aren’t they? They create common references to agree or disagree with, and why put a book online if you apparently don’t want it to be read or discussed? Noise like this probably means I am doing something right here. 🙂

Post scriptum 2: Done ! Or, at least, the first chapter is done ! Have a look: here is the link on ResearchGate and this is the link on Phil Gibbs’ site. Please do let me know what you think of it—whether you like it or not or, more importantly, what logic makes sense and what doesn’t. 🙂


Classical principles of quantum physics

I summarized my 60-odd papers into one ‘manifesto’: it outlines what amounts to a full-blown classical interpretation of quantum mechanics. Have a look at it and let me know what you think ! 🙂

I should probably do a last paper on quantum-mechanical tunneling and potential barriers and their corollary, of course: potential wells. Indeed, the ring current model comes with a dynamic view of the fields surrounding charged particles. Potential barriers should, therefore, not be thought of as static fields: they vary in time. They are the joint result of two or more charges moving around. Hence, a particle breaking through a ‘potential wall’ or coming out of a potential ‘well’ probably just uses an opening which corresponds to a classical trajectory. However, it is not an easy analysis: it should be relativistically correct and we, therefore, need to describe the fields in terms of the vector potential and all that. I’ll need to look the math again here. :-/

Post scriptum (1 June 2020): I just added an introduction to the paper. It talks about recent attempts to explain what might be going on inside of the atomic nucleus in terms of electromagnetic interactions only. Such analyses are usually referred to as an electromagnetic theory of nuclear interaction or – using more formidable language – nuclear lattice effective field theory (NLEFT) and they will, hopefully, gain much more acceptance in the future.[1] They should—because they make sense! 🙂

[1] Easily accessible references are, for example, Bernard Schaeffer (2016) or Paolo Di Sia (2018).

The wavefunction in a medium: amplitudes as signals

We finally did what we wanted to do for a while already: we produced a paper on the meaning of the wavefunction and wave equations in the context of an atomic lattice (think of a conductor or a semiconductor here). Unsurprisingly, we came to the following conclusions:

1. The concept of the matter-wave traveling through the vacuum, an atomic lattice or any medium can be equated to the concept of an electric or electromagnetic signal traveling through the same medium.

2. There is no need to model the matter-wave as a wave packet: a single wave – with a precise frequency and a precise wavelength – will do.

3. If we do want to model the matter-wave as a wave packet rather than a single wave with a precisely defined frequency and wavelength, then the uncertainty in such wave packet reflects our own limited knowledge about the momentum and/or the velocity of the particle that we think we are representing. The uncertainty is, therefore, not inherent to Nature, but to our limited knowledge about the initial conditions or, what amounts to the same, what happened to the particle(s) in the past.

4. The fact that such wave packets usually dissipate very rapidly, reflects that even our limited knowledge about initial conditions tends to become equally rapidly irrelevant. Indeed, as Feynman puts it, “the tiniest irregularities tend to get magnified very quickly” at the micro-scale.

In short, as Hendrik Antoon Lorentz noted a few months before his demise, there is, effectively, no reason whatsoever “to elevate indeterminism to a philosophical principle.” Quantum mechanics is just what it should be: common-sense physics.

The paper confirms intuitions we had highlighted in previous papers already, but uses the formalism of quantum mechanics itself to demonstrate this.

PS: We put the paper on academia.edu and ResearchGate as well, but Phil Gibbs’ site has easy access (no log-in or membership required). Long live Phil Gibbs!