It makes me feel my quest for understanding of matter and energy – in terms of classical concepts and measurements (as depicted below) – has ended. Perhaps I will write more but that would only be to promote the material, which should promote itself if it is any good (which I think it is).
I should, by way of conclusion, say a few final words about Feynman’s 1963 Lectures now. When everything is said and done, it is my reading of them which had triggered this blog about ten years ago. I would now recommend Volume I and II (classical physics and electromagnetic theory) – if only because it gives you all the math you need to understand all of physics – but not Volume III (the lectures on quantum mechanics). They are outdated, and I do find Feynman guilty of promoting rather than explaining the hocus-pocus around all of the so-called mysteries in this special branch of physics.
Quantum mechanics is special, but I do conclude now that it can all be explained in terms of classical concepts and quantities. So, Gell-Mann’s criticism of Richard Feynman is, perhaps, correct: Mr. Feynman did, perhaps, make too many jokes – and it gets annoying because he must have known some of what he suggests does not make sense – even if I would not go as far as Gell-Mann, who says “Feynman was only concerned about himself, his ego, and his own image !”
So, I would recommend my own alternative series of ‘lectures’. Not only are they easier to read, but they also embody a different spirit of writing. Science is not about you, it is about thinking for oneself and deciding on what is truthful and useful, and what is not. So, to conclude, I will end by quoting Ludwig Boltzmann once more:
Post scriptum (23 April 2023): Also check out this video, which was triggered by someone who thought my models amount to something like a modern aether theory, which it is definitely not the case: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X38u2-nXoto. 🙂 I really think it is my last reflection on these topics. I need to focus on my day job, sports, family, etcetera again ! 🙂
It has been ages since I last wrote something here. Regular work took over. I did do an effort, though, to synchronize and reorganize some stuff. And I am no longer shy about it. My stats on ResearchGate and academia.edu show that I am no longer a ‘crackpot theorist’. This is what I wrote about it on my LinkedIn account:
With good work-life balance now, I picked up one of my hobbies again: research into quantum theories. As for now, I only did a much-needed synchronization of papers on academia.edu and ResearchGate. When logging on the former network (which I had not done for quite a while), I found many friendly messages on it. One of them was from a researcher on enzymes: “I have been studying about these particles for around four years. All of the basics. But wat are they exactly? This though inspired me… Thank u so much!” I smiled and relaxed when I read that, telling myself that all those sleepless nights I spent on this were not the waste of time and energy that most of my friends thought it would be. 🙂
Another one was even more inspiring. It was written by another ‘independent’ researcher. Nelda Evans. No further detail in her profile. From the stats, I could see that she had downloaded an older manuscript of mine (https://lnkd.in/ecRKJwxQ). This is what she wrote about it to me: “I spoke to Richard Feynman in person at the Hughes Research Lab in Malibu California in 1967 where the first pulsed laser was invented when some of the students from the UCLA Physics Dept. went to hear him. Afterward I went to talk to him and said “Dr. Feynman, I’ve learned that some unknown scientists were dissatisfied with probability as a final description of Quantum Mechanics, namely Planck, Einstein, Schrodinger, de Broglie, Bohm,…” When I finished my list he immediately said “And Feynman”. We talked about it a little, and he told me “I like what you pick on.” My guess is that he might have told you something similar.”
That message touched me deeply, because I do feel – from reading his rather famous Lectures on Physics somewhat ‘between the lines’ – that Richard Feynman effectively knew all but that he, somehow, was not allowed to clearly say what it was all about. I wrote a few things about that rather strange historical bias in the interpretation of ‘uncertainty’ and other ‘metaphysical’ concepts that infiltrated the science of quantum mechanics in my last paper: https://lnkd.in/ewZBcfke.
So… Well… I am not a crackpot scientist anymore ! 🙂 The bottom-line is to always follow your instinct when trying to think clearly about some problem or some issue. We should do what Ludwig Boltzmann (1844-1906) told us to do: “Bring forward what is true. Write it so that it is clear. Defend it to your last breath.”
[…] Next ‘thing to do’, is to chat with ChatGPT about my rather straightforward theories. I want to see how ‘intelligent’ it is. I wonder where it will hit its limit in terms of ‘abstract thinking.’ The models I worked on combine advanced geometrical thinking (building ‘realistic’ particle models requires imagining ‘rotations within rotations’, among other things) and formal math (e.g. quaternion algebra). ChatGPT is excellent in both, I was told, but can it combine the two intelligently? 🙂
On we go. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. 🙂 For those who want an easy ‘introduction’ to the work (at a K-12 level of understanding of mathematics), I wrote the first pages of what could become a very new K-12 level textbook on physics. Let us see. I do want to see some interest from a publisher first. 🙂
I had been wanting to update my paper on matter-antimatter pair creation and annihilation for a long time, and I finally did it: here is the new version of it. It was one of my early papers on ResearchGate and, somewhat surprising, it got quite a few downloads (all is relative: I am happy with a few thousand). I actually did not know why, but now I understand: it does take down the last defenses of QCD- and QFT-theorists. As such, I now think this paper is at least as groundbreaking as my paper on de Broglie’s matter-wave (which gets the most reads), or my paper on the proton radius (which gets the most recommendations).
My paper on de Broglie’s matter-wave is important because it explains why and how de Broglie’s bright insight (matter having some frequency and wavelength) was correct, but got the wrong interpretation: the frequencies and wavelengths are orbital frequencies, and the wavelengths are are not to be interpreted as linear distances (not like wavelengths of light) but the quantum-mechanical equivalent of the circumferences of orbital radii. The paper also shows why spin (in this or the opposite direction) should be incorporated into any analysis straight from the start: you cannot just ignore spin and plug it in back later. The paper on the proton radius shows how that works to yield short and concise explanations of the measurable properties of elementary particles (the electron and the proton). The two combined provide the framework: an analysis of matter in terms of pointlike particles does not get us anywhere. We must think of matter as charge in motion, and we must analyze the two- or three-dimensional structure of these oscillations, and use it to also explain interactions between matter-particles (elementary or composite) and light-particles (photons and neutrinos, basically). I have explained these mass-without-mass models too many times now, so I will not dwell on it.
So, how that paper on matter-antimatter pair creation and annihilation fit in? The revision resulted in a rather long and verbose thing, so I will refer you to it and just summarize it very briefly. Let me start by copying the abstract: “The phenomenon of matter-antimatter pair creation and annihilation is usually taken as confirmation that, somehow, fields can condense into matter-particles or, conversely, that matter-particles can somehow turn into lightlike particles (photons and/or neutrinos, which are nothing but traveling fields: electromagnetic or, in the case of the neutrino, some strong field, perhaps). However, pair creation usually involves the presence of a nucleus or other charged particles (such as electrons in experiment #E144). We, therefore, wonder whether pair creation and annihilation cannot be analyzed as part of some nuclear process. To be precise, we argue that the usual nuclear reactions involving protons and neutrons can effectively account for the processes of pair creation and annihilation. We therefore argue that the need to invoke some quantum field theory (QFT) to explain these high-energy processes would need to be justified much better than it currently is.”
Needless to say, the last line above is a euphemism: we think our explanation is complete, and that QFT is plain useless. We wrote the following rather scathing appreciation of it in a footnote of the paper: “We think of Aitchison & Hey’s presentation of [matter-antimatter pair creation and annihilation] in their Gauge Theories in Particle Physics (2012) – or presentations (plural), we should say. It is considered to be an advanced but standard textbook on phenomena like this. However, one quickly finds oneself going through the index and scraping together various mathematical treatments – wondering what they explain, and also wondering how all of the unanswered questions or hypotheses (such as, for example, the particularities of flavor mixing, helicity, the Majorana hypothesis, etcetera) contribute to understanding the nature of the matter at hand. I consider it a typical example of how – paraphrasing Sabine Hossenfelder’s judgment on the state of advanced physics research – physicist do indeed tend to get lost in math.”
That says it all. Our thesis is that charge cannot just appear or disappear: it is not being created out of nothing (or out of fields, we should say). The observations (think of pion production and decay from cosmic rays here) and the results of the experiments (the mentioned #E144 experiment or other high-energy experiments) cannot be disputed, but the mainstream interpretation of what actually happens or might be happening in those chain reactions suffers from what, in daily life, we would refer to as ‘very sloppy accounting’. Let me quote or paraphrase a few more lines from my paper to highlight the problem, and to also introduce my interpretation of things which, as usual, are based on a more structural analysis of what matter actually is:
“Pair creation is most often observed in the presence of a nucleus. The role of the nucleus is usually reduced to that of a heavy mass only: it only appears in the explanation to absorb or provide some kinetic energy in the overall reaction. We instinctively feel the role of the nucleus must be far more important than what is usually suggested. To be specific, we suggest pair creation should (also) be analyzed as being part of a larger nuclear process involving neutron-proton interactions. […]”
“Charge does not get ‘lost’ or is ‘created’, but [can] switch its ‘spacetime’ or ‘force’ signature [when interacting with high-energy (anti)photons or (anti)neutrinos].”
“[The #E144 experiment or other high-energy experiments involving electrons] accounts for the result of the experiment in terms of mainstream QED analysis, and effectively thinks of the pair production being the result of the theoretical ‘Breit-Wheeler’ pair production process from photons only. However, this description of the experiment fails to properly account for the incoming beam of electrons. That, then, is the main weakness of the ‘explanation’: it is a bit like making abstraction of the presence of the nucleus in the pair creation processes that take place near them (which, as mentioned above, account for the bulk of those).”
We will say nothing more about it here because we want to keep our blog post(s) short: read the paper! 🙂 To wrap this up for you, the reader(s) of this post, we will only quote or paraphrase some more ontological or philosophical remarks in it:
“The three-layered structure of the electron (the classical, Compton and Bohr radii of the electron) suggest that charge may have some fractal structure and – moreover – that such fractal structure may be infinite. Why do we think so? If the fractal structure would not be infinite, we would have to acknowledge – logically – that some kind of hard core charge is at the center of the oscillations that make up these particles, and it would be very hard to explain how this can actually disappear.” [Note: This is a rather novel new subtlety in our realist interpretation of quantum physics, so you may want to think about it. Indeed, we were initially not very favorable to the idea of a fractal charge structure because such fractal structure is, perhaps, not entirely consistent with the idea of a Zitterbewegung charge with zero rest mass), we think much more favorably of the hypothesis now.]
“The concept of charge is and remains mysterious. However, in philosophical or ontological terms, I do not think of it as a mystery: at some point, we must, perhaps, accept that the essence of the world is charge, and that:
There is also an antiworld, and that;
It consists of an anticharge that we can fully define in terms of the signature of the force(s) that keep it together, and that;
The two worlds can, quite simply, not co-exist or – at least – not interact with each other without annihilating each other.
Such simple view of things must, of course, feed into cosmological theories: how, then, came these two worlds into being? We offered some suggestions on that in a rather simple paper on cosmology (our one and only paper on the topic), but it is not a terrain that we have explored (yet).”
So, I will end this post in pretty much the same way as the old Looney Tunes or Merrie Melodies cartoons used to end, and that’s by saying: “That’s all Folks.” 🙂
Enjoy life and do not worry too much. It is all under control and, if it is not, then that is OK too. 🙂
When I wrote my first PS in November last year, I thought it would be my last blog post here – but the stats keep going up. Good enough here on WordPress, and even better on ResearchGate: a 170+ score now and still rising fast: top 1% climber still – despite that I have published nothing since a year now – which got me into the top 25% bracket of RG researchers in less than two years – and, while it is far from going viral, further rise looks a bit inevitable now.
It clearly shows that I am not mad and that you are reading serious physics here – but without the usual hocus-pocus and ‘mystery’ that leaves so many young and-not-so-young people disgusted. I repeat: there is no serious puzzle in physics any more. All that is being done now, is to further work out the consequences of the fundamental laws of physics that were written down about a hundred years ago (de Broglie wrote his thesis in 1924, so this centenary is almost there). For those who are seeking to simplify further by resorting to some kind of ‘meta-symbolism’ or an even more ‘holistic’ perspective (whatever that might mean), I think the exchange below (from my ResearchGate account) might be useful. For the rest, I have nothing to add anymore. It is all there ! 🙂
M (7 days ago): Dear JL – I was amazed to find your piece on the jitter-bugging phenomena [sic] (not hypothesis). I think you may find my more holistic perspective useful in fine-tuning your work. I hope you agree, and I would love to collaborate. After all, as far as I know, your work is the first substantive effort in nearly 60 years+ (in this very fertile direction). Cheers, etc. ~ M
M (7 days ago): Dear JL – Bravo!!! I just saw the abstract of your paper on conserving the enthusiasm of young people afflicted by modern SM-QM nonsense, dogma, etc. I am now even more motivated to have your help reviewing, editing, and developing my next-gen ontology of the cosmos. Cheers ~ M
My rapid-fire answers (yesterday and today):
Txs man ! This developed partly because (1) I had too much time on my hands (a difficult past five years as I came back from abroad and my mom and bro died from cancer – I had to go through cancer surgery myself) and (2) helping my son getting through his exams on quantum physics as part of his engineering studies (he is just as much as a rebel as me and (also) wanted more ‘common-sense’ explanations. The ‘orbital’ or ‘circular’ motion concept for interpreting de Broglie’s wavefunction (orbital frequencies instead of linear ones) is the key to everything. 🙂 No magic. 🙂 Charge and motion are the only concepts that are real. 🙂 There is no copyright to what I produced (a lot is just about building further on strands the ‘Old Great’ (including Schroedinger himself) had in mind) so feel free to use it and further develop. My blog post on Paul Ehrenfest’ s suicide is probably still the most ‘accessible’ introduction to it all. It is also tragic – as tragic (or more, probably) as Dirac’s depression when he sort of ‘turned his back’ on the young wolves he used to support – but still… https://readingfeynman.org/2020/05/27/ehrenfest-and-other-tragedies-in-physics/
I also did some YouTube videos to ‘market’ it all – but there is only so much one can do. It is a weird situation. APS, WSP and even Springer Verlag wanted to do something with me but they all backed off in the end. Fortunately I do not suffer from much ego (one advantage of my experience in war-torn countries such as Afghanistan and in Ukraine (March)) – so I take everything lightly. My “Post Scriptum” to my papers – https://www.researchgate.net/publication/356556508_Post_Scriptum – is a read of 15 minutes only and guides all of the material. Have fun with it ! Life is short. I know – having come clean out of cancer (unlike my mom and my bro), so every day is a perfect day now. As for day job: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jean-louis-van-belle-85b74b7a/
As for the formalism that you are introducing, I would recommend close(r) study of: (1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geometrodynamics : my physics is a ‘mass without mass’ approach – but I do not believe charge can be further reduced (we need the concept to distinguish between matter and anti-matter, for example – geometry does not suffice to explain all degrees of freedom there); (2) The failure of Wittgenstein’s formalism – as he admitted himself in what is commonly referred to as the ‘Wittgenstein II’ (nothing more than some of his comments in letters on his little booklet). I studied Wittgenstein as part of my philosophy studies and I am not too impressed. I feel we need a bit of ‘common’ language to add nuance and meaning to the mathematical symbols. Without the ambiguity in them, they do not mean all that much to me. Also see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordinary_language_philosophy
To add – I also believe step (3) of the geometrodynamics is not possible. We can do without the mass concept (and still it is useful to use in the higher-level physics), but not without charge or fields. Charge and field are not further reducible. The last slide of my ‘philosophy and physics’ presentation on YouTube shows the fundamental ‘categories’ I believe in (categories in an Aristotelian sense). These concepts can be both ‘relative’ or ‘absolute’ (not-relative, in the sense of (special/general) relativity theory). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJxAh_uCNjs&t=16s
One more thing, despite my criticism on ‘Wittgenstein-like’ formalism, his first statement in his Tractatus should obviously be the point of departure of any ‘metaphysics’ or epistemology: 1.1 Die Welt ist die Gesamtheit der Tatsachen, nicht der Dinge. Perhaps it is the only thing we can seriously say about ‘the world’ or ‘reality’. It serves as a ‘good enough’ definition to me, in any case. 🙂
After a long break (more than six months), I have started to engage again in a few conversations. I also looked at the 29 papers on my ResearchGate page, and I realize some of them would need to be re-written or re-packaged so as to ensure a good flow. Also, some of the approaches were more productive than others (some did not lead anywhere at all, actually), and I would need to point those out. I have been thinking about how to approach this, and I think I am going to produce an annotated version of these papers, with comments and corrections as mark-ups. Re-writing or re-structuring all of them would require to much work.
The mark-up of those papers is probably going to be based on some ‘quick-fire’ remarks (a succession of thoughts triggered by one and the same question) which come out of the conversation below, so I thank these thinkers for having kept me in the loop of a discussion I had followed but not reacted to. It is an interesting one – on the question of ‘deep electron orbitals’ (read: the orbitals of negative charge inside of a nucleus exist and, if so, how one can model them. If one could solve that question, one would have a theoretical basis for what is referred to as low-energy nuclear reactions. That was known formerly as cold fusion, but that got a bit of a bad name because of a number of crooks spoiling the field, unfortunately.
PS: I leave the family names of my correspondents in the exchange below out so they cannot be bothered. One of them, Jerry, is a former American researcher at SLAC. Andrew – the key researcher on DEPs – is a Canadian astrophysicist, and the third one – Jean-Luc – is a rather prominent French scientist in LENR.]
From: Jean Louis Van Belle Sent: 18 November 2021 22:51 Subject: Staying engaged (5)
Oh – and needless to say, Dirac’s basic equation can, of course, be expanded using the binomial expansion – just like the relativistic energy-momentum relation, and then one can ‘cut off’ the third-, fourth-, etc-order terms and keep the first and second-order terms only. Perhaps it is equations like that kept you puzzled (I should check your original emails). In any case, this way of going about energy equations for elementary particles is a bit the same as those used in perturbation equations in which – as Dirac complained – one randomly selects terms that seem to make sense and discard others because they do not seem to make sense. Of course, Dirac criticized perturbation theory much more severely than this – and rightly so. 😊 😊 JL
From: Jean Louis Van Belle Sent: 18 November 2021 22:10 Subject: Staying engaged (4)
Also – I remember you had some questions on an energy equation – not sure which one – but so I found Dirac’s basic equation (based on which he derives the ‘Dirac’ wave equation) is essentially useless because it incorporates linear momentum only. As such, it repeats de Broglie’s mistake, and that is to interpret the ‘de Broglie’ wavelength as something linear. It is not: frequencies, wavelengths are orbital frequencies and orbital circumferences. So anything you would want to do with energy equations that are based on that, lead nowhere – in my not-so-humble opinion, of course. To illustrate the point, compare the relativistic energy-momentum relation and Dirac’s basic equation in his Nobel Prize lecture (I hope the subscripts/superscripts get through your email system so they display correctly):
Divide the above by c2 and re-arrange and you get Dirac’s equation: W2/c2 – pr2 – m2/c2 = 0 (see his 1933 Nobel Prize Lecture)
So that cannot lead anywhere. It’s why I totally discard Dirac’s wave equation (it has never yielded any practical explanation of a real-life phenomenon anyway, if I am not mistaken).
Cheers – JL
From: Jean Louis Van Belle Sent: 18 November 2021 21:49 Subject: Staying engaged (3)
Just on ‘retarded sources’ and ‘retarded fields’ – I have actually tried to think of the ‘force mechanism’ inside of an electron or a proton (what keeps the pointlike charge in this geometric orbit around a center of mass?). I thought long and hard about some kind of model in which we have the charge radiate out a sub-Planck field, and that its ‘retarded effects’ might arrive ‘just in time’ to the other side of the orbital (or whatever other point on the orbital) so as to produce the desired ‘course correction’ might explain it. I discarded it completely: I am now just happy that we have ‘reduced’ the mystery to this ‘Planck-scale quantum-mechanical oscillation’ (in 2D or 3D orbitals) without the need for an ‘aether’, or quantized spacetime, or ‘virtual particles’ actually ‘holding the thing together’.
Also, a description in terms of four-vectors (scalar and vector potential) does not immediately call for ‘retarded time’ variables and all that, so that is another reason why I think one should somehow make the jump from E-B fields to scalar and vector potential, even if the math is hard to visualize. If we want to ‘visualize’ things, Feynman’s discussion of the ‘energy’ and ‘momentum’ flow in https://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/II_27.html might make sense, because I think analyses in terms of Poynting vectors are relativistically current, aren’t they? It is just an intuitive idea…
Cheers – JL
From: Jean Louis Van Belle Sent: 18 November 2021 21:28 Subject: Staying engaged (2)
But so – in the shorter run – say, the next three-six months, I want to sort out those papers on ResearchGate. The one on the de Broglie’s matter-wave (interpreting the de Broglie wavelength as the circumference of a loop rather than as a linear wavelength) is the one that gets most downloads, and rightly so. The rest is a bit of a mess – mixing all kinds of things I tried, some of which worked, but other things did not. So I want to ‘clean’ that up… 😊 JL
From: Jean Louis Van Belle Sent: 18 November 2021 21:21 Subject: Staying engaged…
Please do include me in the exchanges, Andrew – even if I do not react, I do read them because I do need some temptation and distraction. As mentioned, I wanted to focus on building a credible n = p + e model (for free neutrons but probably more focused on a Schrodinger-like D = p + e + p Platzwechsel model, because the deuteron nucleus is stable). But so I will not do that the way I studied the zbw model of the electron and proton (I believe that is sound now) – so that’s with not putting in enough sleep. I want to do it slowly now. I find a lot of satisfaction in the fact that I think there is no need for complicated quantum field theories (fields are quantized, but in a rather obvious way: field oscillations – just like matter-particles – pack Planck’s quantum of (physical) action which – depending on whether you freeze time or positions as a variable, expresses itself as a discrete amount of energy or, alternatively, as a discrete amount of momentum), nor is there any need for this ‘ontologization’ of virtual field interactions (sub-Planck scale) – the quark-gluon nonsense.
Also, it makes sense to distinguish between an electromagnetic and a ‘strong’ or ‘nuclear’ force: the electron and proton have different form factors (2D versus 3D oscillations, but that is a bit of a non-relativistic shorthand for what might be the case) but, in addition, there is clearly a much stronger force at play within the proton – whose strength is the same kind of ‘scale’ as the force that gives the muon-electron its rather enormous mass. So that is my ‘belief’ and the ‘heuristic’ models I build (a bit of ‘numerology’ according to Dr Pohl’s rather off-hand remarks) support it sufficiently for me to make me feel at peace about all these ‘Big Questions’.
I am also happy I figured out these inconsistencies around 720-degree symmetries (just the result of a non-rigorous application of Occam’s Razor: if you use all possible ‘signs’ in the wavefunction, then the wavefunction may represent matter as well as anti-matter particles, and these 720-degree weirdness dissolves). Finally, the kind of ‘renewed’ S-matrix programme for analyzing unstable particles (adding a transient factor to wavefunctions) makes sense to me, but even the easiest set of equations look impossible to solve – so I may want to dig into the math of that if I feel like having endless amounts of time and energy (which I do not – but, after this cancer surgery, I know I will only die on some ‘moral’ or ‘mental’ battlefield twenty or thirty years from now – so I am optimistic).
So, in short, the DEP question does intrigue me – and you should keep me posted, but I will only look at it to see if it can help me on that deuteron model. 😊 That is the only ‘deep electron orbital’ I actually believe in. Sorry for the latter note.
Cheers – JL
From: Andrew Sent: 16 November 2021 19:05 To: Jean-Luc; Jerry; Jean Louis Subject: Re: retarded potential?
Congratulations on your new position. I understand your present limitations, despite your incredible ability to be productive. They must be even worse than those imposed by my young kids and my age. Do you wish for us to not include you in our exchanges on our topic? Even with no expectation of your contributing at this point, such emails might be an unwanted temptation and distraction.
Thank you for the Wiki-Links. They are useful. I agree that the 4-vector potential should be considered. Since I am now considering the nuclear potentials as well as the deep orbits, it makes sense to consider the nuclear vector potentials to have an origin in the relativistic Coulomb potentials. I am facing this in my attempts to calculate the deep orbits from contributions to the potential energies that have a vector component, which non-rel Coulomb potentials do not have.
For examples: do we include the losses in Vcb (e.g., from the binding energy BE) when we make the relativistic correction to the potential; or, how do we relativistically treat pseudo potentials such as that of centrifugal force? We know that for equilibrium, the average forces must cancel. However, I’m not sure that it is possible to write out a proper expression for “A” to fit such cases.
Best regards to all,
_ _ _
On Fri, Nov 12, 2021 at 1:42 PM Jean-Luc wrote:
I totally agree with the sentence of Jean-Louis, which I put in bold in his message, about vector potential and scalar potential, combined into a 4-vector potential A, for representing EM field in covariant formulation. So EM representation by 4-vector A has been very developed, as wished by JL, in the framework of QED.
Jean-Luc Le 12/11/2021 à 05:43, Jean Louis Van Belle a écrit :
Hi All – I’ve been absent in the discussion, and will remain absent for a while. I’ve been juggling a lot of work – my regular job at the Ministry of Interior (I got an internal promotion/transfer, and am working now on police and security sector reform) plus consultancies on upcoming projects in Nepal. In addition, I am still recovering from my surgery – I got a bad flue (not C19, fortunately) and it set back my auto-immune system, I feel. I have a bit of a holiday break now (combining the public holidays of 11 and 15 November in Belgium with some days off to bridge so I have a rather nice super-long weekend – three in one, so to speak).
As for this thread, I feel like it is not ‘phrasing’ the discussion in the right ‘language’. Thinking of E-fields and retarded potential is thinking in terms of 3D potential, separating out space and time variables without using the ‘power’ of four-vectors (four-vector potential, and four-vector space-time). It is important to remind ourselves that we are measuring fields in continuous space and time (but, again, this is relativistic space-time – so us visualizing a 3D potential at some point in space is what it is: we visualize something because our mind needs that – wants that). The fields are discrete, however: a field oscillation packs one unit of Planck – always – and Planck’s quantum of action combines energy and momentum: we should not think of energy and momentum as truly ‘separate’ (discrete) variables, just like we should not think of space and time as truly ‘separate’ (continuous) variables.
I do not quite know what I want to say here – or how I should further work it out. I am going to re-read my papers. I think I should further develop the last one (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/351097421_The_concepts_of_charge_elementary_ring_currents_potential_potential_energy_and_field_oscillations), in which I write that the vector potential is more real than the electric field and the scalar potential should be further developed, and probably it is the combined scalar and vector potential that are the ’real’ things. Not the electric and magnetic field. Hence, illustrations like below – in terms of discs and cones in space – do probably not go all that far in terms of ‘understanding’ what it is going on… It’s just an intuition…
Cheers – JL
From: Andrew Sent: 23 September 2021 17:17 To: Jean-Luc; Jerry; Jean Louis Subject: retarded potential?
Becasue of the claim that gluons are tubal, I have been looking at the disk-shaped E-field lines of the highly-relativistic electron and comparing it to the retarded potential, which, based on timing, would seem to give a cone rather than a disk (see figure). This makes a difference when we consider a deep-orbiting electron. It even impacts selection of the model for impact of an electron when considering diffraction and interference.
Even if the field appears to be spreading out as a cone, the direction of the field lines are that of a disk from the retarded source. However, how does it interact with the radial field of a stationary charge?
Do you have any thoughts on the matter.
_ _ _
On Thu, Sep 23, 2021 at 5:05 AM Jean-Luc wrote:
Dear Andrew, Thank you for the references. Best regards, Jean-Luc
Le 18/09/2021 à 17:32, Andrew a écrit : > This might have useful thoughts concerning the question of radiation > decay to/from EDOs. > > Quantum Optics Electrons see the quantum nature of light > Ian S. Osborne > We know that light is both a wave and a particle, and this duality > arises from the classical and quantum nature of electromagnetic > excitations. Dahan et al. observed that all experiments to date in > which light interacts with free electrons have been described with > light considered as a wave (see the Perspective by Carbone). The > authors present experimental evidence revealing the quantum nature of > the interaction between photons and free electrons. They combine an > ultrafast transmission electron microscope with a silicon-photonic > nanostructure that confines and strengthens the interaction between > the light and the electrons. The “quantum” statistics of the photons > are imprints onto the propagating electrons and are seen directly in > their energy spectrum. > Science, abj7128, this issue p. 1324; see also abl6366, p. 1309
A few days ago, I mentioned I felt like writing a new book: a sort of guidebook for amateur physicists like me. I realized that is actually fairly easy to do. I have three very basic papers – one on particles (both light and matter), one on fields, and one on the quantum-mechanical toolbox (amplitude math and all of that). But then there is a lot of nitty-gritty to be written about the technical stuff, of course: self-interference, superconductors, the behavior of semiconductors (as used in transistors), lasers, and so many other things – and all of the math that comes with it. However, for that, I can refer you to Feynman’s three volumes of lectures, of course. In fact, I should: it’s all there. So… Well… That’s it, then. I am done with the QED sector. Here is my summary of it all (links to the papers on Phil Gibbs’ site):
The last paper is interesting because it shows statistical indeterminism is the only real indeterminism. We can, therefore, use Bell’s Theorem to prove our theory is complete: there is no need for hidden variables, so why should we bother about trying to prove or disprove they can or cannot exist?
Jean Louis Van Belle, 21 October 2020
Note: As for the QCD sector, that is a mess. We might have to wait another hundred years or so to see the smoke clear up there. Or, who knows, perhaps some visiting alien(s) will come and give us a decent alternative for the quark hypothesis and quantum field theories. One of my friends thinks so. Perhaps I should trust him more. 🙂
As for Phil Gibbs, I should really thank him for being one of the smartest people on Earth – and for his site, of course. Brilliant forum. Does what Feynman wanted everyone to do: look at the facts, and think for yourself. 🙂
I ended my post on particles as spacetime oscillations saying I should probably write something about the concept of a field too, and why and how many academic physicists abuse it so often. So I did that, but it became a rather lengthy paper, and so I will refer you to Phil Gibbs’ site, where I post such stuff. Here is the link. Let me know what you think of it.
As for how it fits in with the rest of my writing, I already jokingly rewrote two of Feynman’s introductory Lectures on quantum mechanics (see: Quantum Behavior and Probability Amplitudes). I consider this paper to be the third. 🙂
Post scriptum: Now that I am talking about Richard Feynman – again ! – I should add that I really think of him as a weird character. I think he himself got caught in that image of the ‘Great Teacher’ while, at the same (and, surely, as a Nobel laureate), he also had to be seen to a ‘Great Guru.’ Read: a Great Promoter of the ‘Grand Mystery of Quantum Mechanics’ – while he probably knew classical electromagnetism combined with the Planck-Einstein relation can explain it all… Indeed, his lecture on superconductivity starts off as an incoherent ensemble of ‘rocket science’ pieces, to then – in the very last paragraphs – manipulate Schrödinger’s equation (and a few others) to show superconducting currents are just what you would expect in a superconducting fluid. Let me quote him:
“Schrödinger’s equation for the electron pairs in a superconductor gives us the equations of motion of an electrically charged ideal fluid. Superconductivity is the same as the problem of the hydrodynamics of a charged liquid. If you want to solve any problem about superconductors you take these equations for the fluid [or the equivalent pair, Eqs. (21.32) and (21.33)], and combine them with Maxwell’s equations to get the fields.”
So… Well… Looks he too is all about impressing people with ‘rocket science models’ first, and then he simplifies it all to… Well… Something simple. 😊
Having said that, I still like Feynman more than modern science gurus, because the latter usually don’t get to the simplifying part.
I don’t know where I would start a new story on physics. I am also not quite sure for whom I would be writing it – although it would be for people like me, obviously: most of what we do, we do for ourselves, right? So I should probably describe myself in order to describe the audience: amateur physicists who are interested in the epistemology of modern physics – or its ontology, or its metaphysics. I also talk about the genealogy or archaeology of ideas on my ResearchGate site. All these words have (slightly) different meanings but the distinctions do not matter all that much. The point is this: I write for people who want to understand physics in pretty much the same way as the great classical physicist Hendrik Antoon Lorentz who, just a few months before his demise, at the occasion of the (in)famous 1927 Solvay Conference, wanted to understand the ‘new theories’:
“We are representing phenomena. We try to form an image of them in our mind. Till now, we always tried to do using the ordinary notions of space and time. These notions may be innate; they result, in any case, from our personal experience, from our daily observations. To me, these notions are clear, and I admit I am not able to have any idea about physics without those notions. The image I want to have when thinking physical phenomena has to be clear and well defined, and it seems to me that cannot be done without these notions of a system defined in space and in time.”
Note that H.A. Lorentz understood electromagnetism and relativity theory as few others did. In fact, judging from some of the crap out there, I can safely say he understood stuff as few others do today still. Hence, he should surely not be thought of as a classical physicist who, somehow, was stuck. On the contrary: he understood the ‘new theories’ better than many of the new theorists themselves. In fact, as far as I am concerned, I think his comments or conclusions on the epistemological status of the Uncertainty Principle – which he made in the same intervention – still stand. Let me quote the original French:
“Je pense que cette notion de probabilité [in the new theories] serait à mettre à la fin, et comme conclusion, des considérations théoriques, et non pas comme axiome a priori, quoique je veuille bien admettre que cette indétermination correspond aux possibilités expérimentales. Je pourrais toujours garder ma foi déterministe pour les phénomènes fondamentaux, dont je n’ai pas parlé. Est-ce qu’un esprit plus profond ne pourrait pas se rendre compte des mouvements de ces électrons. Ne pourrait-on pas garder le déterminisme en en faisant l’objet d’une croyance? Faut-il nécessairement ériger l’ indéterminisme en principe?”
What a beautiful statement, isn’t it? Why should we elevate indeterminism to a philosophical principle? Indeed, now that I’ve inserted some French, I may as well inject some German. The idea of a particle includes the idea of a more or less well-known position. Let us be specific and think of uncertainty in the context of position. We may not fully know the position of a particle for one or more of the following reasons:
The precision of our measurements may be limited: this is what Heisenberg referred to as an Ungenauigkeit.
Our measurement might disturb the position and, as such, cause the information to get lost and, as a result, introduce an uncertainty: this is what we may translate as an Unbestimmtheit.
The uncertainty may be inherent to Nature, in which case we should probably refer to it as an Ungewissheit.
So what is the case? Lorentz claims it is either the first or the second – or a combination of both – and that the third proposition is a philosophical statement which we can neither prove nor disprove. I cannot see anything logical (theory) or practical (experiment) that would invalidate this point. I, therefore, intend to write a basic book on quantum physics from what I hope would be Lorentz’ or Einstein’s point of view.
My detractors will immediately cry wolf: Einstein lost the discussions with Bohr, didn’t he? I do not think so: he just got tired of them. I want to try to pick up the story where he left it. Let’s see where I get. 🙂
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” 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.
 See: John Stewart Bell, Speakable and unspeakable in quantum mechanics, pp. 169–172, Cambridge University Press, 1987.
Pre-scriptum: For those who do not like to read, I produced a very short YouTube presentation/video on this topic. About 15 minutes – same time as it will take you to read this post, probably. Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJxAh_uCNjs.
We think of space and time as fundamental categories of the mind. And they are, but only in the sense that the famous Dutch physicist H.A. Lorentz conveyed to us: we do not seem to be able to conceive of any idea in physics without these two notions. However, relativity theory tells us these two concepts are not absolute and we may, therefore, say they cannot be truly fundamental. Only Nature’s constants – the speed of light, or Planck’s quantum of action – are absolute: these constants seem to mix space and time into something that is, apparently, more fundamental.
The speed of light (c) combines the physical dimensions of space and time, and Planck’s quantum of action (h) adds the idea of a force. But time, distance, and force are all relative. Energy (force over a distance), momentum (force times time) are, therefore, also relative. In contrast, the speed of light, and Planck’s quantum of action, are absolute. So we should think of distance, and of time, as some kind of projection of a deeper reality: the reality of light or – in case of Planck’s quantum of action – the reality of an electron or a proton. In contrast, time, distance, force, energy, momentum and whatever other concept we would derive from them exist in our mind only.
We should add another point here. To imagine the reality of an electron or a proton (or the idea of an elementary particle, you might say), we need an additional concept: the concept of charge. The elementary charge (e) is, effectively, a third idea (or category of the mind, one might say) without which we cannot imagine Nature. The ideas of charge and force are, of course, closely related: a force acts on a charge, and a charge is that upon which a force is acting. So we cannot think of charge without thinking of force, and vice versa. But, as mentioned above, the concept of force is relative: it incorporates the idea of time and distance (a force is that what accelerates a charge). In contrast, the idea of the elementary charge is absolute again: it does not depend on our frame of reference.
So we have three fundamental concepts: (1) velocity (or motion, you might say: a ratio of distance and time); (2) (physical) action (force times distance times time); and (3) charge. We measure them in three fundamental units: c, h, and e. Che. 🙂 So that’s reality, then: all of the metaphysics of physics are here. In three letters. We need three concepts: three things that we think of as being real, somehow. Real in the sense that we do not think they exist in our mind only. Light is real, and elementary particles are equally real. All other concepts exist in our mind only.
So were Kant’s ideas about space and time wrong? Maybe. Maybe not. If they are wrong, then that’s quite OK: Immanuel Kant lived in the 18th century, and had not ventured much beyond the place where he was born. Less exciting times. I think he was basically right in saying that space and time exist in our mind only. But he had no answer(s) to the question as to what is real: if some things exist in our mind only, something must exist in what is not our mind, right? So that is what we refer to as reality then: that which does not exist in our mind only.
Modern physics has the answers. The philosophy curriculum at universities should, therefore, adapt to modern times: Maxwell first derived the (absolute) speed of light in 1862, and Einstein published the (special) theory of relativity back in 1905. Hence, philosophers are 100-150 years behind the curve. They are probably even behind the general public. Philosophers should learn about modern physics as part of their studies so they can (also) think about real things rather than mental constructs only.
Philosophers usually distinguish between form and matter, rather than form and substance. Matter, as opposed to form, is then what is supposed to be formless. However, if there is anything that physics – as a science – has taught us, is that matter is defined by its form: in fact, it is the form factor which explains the difference between, say, a proton and an electron. So we might say that matter combines substance and form.
Now, we all know what form is: it is a mathematical quality—like the quality of having the shape of a triangle or a cube. But what is (the) substance that matter is made of? It is charge. Electric charge. It comes in various densities and shapes – that is why we think of it as being basically formless – but we can say a few more things about it. One is that it always comes in the same unit: the elementary charge—which may be positive or negative. Another is that the concept of charge is closely related to the concept of a force: a force acts on a charge—always.
We are talking elementary forces here, of course—the electromagnetic force, mainly. What about gravity? And what about the strong force? Attempts to model gravity as some kind of residual force, and the strong force as some kind of electromagnetic force with a different geometry but acting on the very same charge, have not been successful so far—but we should immediately add that mainstream academics never focused on it either, so the result may be commensurate with the effort made: nothing much.
Indeed, Einstein basically explained gravity away by giving us a geometric interpretation for it (general relativity theory) which, as far as I can see, confirms it may be some residual force resulting from the particular layout of positive and negative charge in electrically neutral atomic and molecular structures. As for the strong force, I believe the quark hypothesis – which basically states that partial (non-elementary) charges are, somehow, real – has led mainstream physics into the dead end it finds itself in now. Will it ever get out of it?
I am not sure. It does not matter all that much to me. I am not a mainstream scientist and I have the answers I was looking for. These answers may be temporary, but they are the best I have for the time being. The best quote I can think of right now is this one:
‘We are in the words, and at the same time, apart from them. The words spin out, spin us out, over a void. There, somewhere between us, some words form some answer for some time, allowing us to live more fully in the forgetting face of nonexistence, in the dissolving away of each other.’ (Jacques Lacan, in Jeremy D. Safran (2003), Psychoanalysis and Buddhism: an unfolding dialogue, p. 134)
That says it all, doesn’t it? For the time being, at least. 🙂
Post scriptum: You might think explaining gravity as some kind of residual electromagnetic force should be impossible, but explaining the attractive force inside a nucleus behind like charges was pretty difficult as well, until someone came up with a relatively simple idea based on the idea of ring currents. 🙂
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.
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
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. 🙂
Joseph Larmor is surely not among the more famous participants in the Solvay Conferences. He only joined the 1921 Conference, together with Charles Glover Barkla and others, and his one and only substantial intervention there is limited to some remarks and questions following a presentation by H.A. Lorentz on the Theory of Electrons, during which Lorentz highlights all of the issues in regard to what was then supposed to be the understanding of what an electron actually is (which, in my not-so-humble-view, is still pretty much the state of our current understanding of it).
I find his one intervention (and Lorentz’ reply to it) very interesting though, and so that’s why I am writing about it here. I am not aware of any free online English translations of the proceedings of the Solvay Conferences (nor of any translation of Lorentz’ paper in particular) but you may be luckier than me when googling: if you find it, please do let me know. In the meanwhile, I am happy to freely translate part of Larmor’s rather short intervention after Lorentz’ presentation from French to English:
“I understand that Mr. Lorentz was given the task to give an overview of how electrons behave inside of an atom. That requires an overview of all possible theories of the electron. That is a highly worthwhile endeavor which, in itself, would already justify the holding of this Conference. However, Mr. Lorentz might have paid more attention to the viewpoint that the electron has some structure, and that its representation as a simple distribution of electric charge can only be provisional: electrons explain electricity, but electricity does not explain electrons. However, the description of an electron in terms of a charge distribution is, for the time being, all we can imagine. In the past, we thought of the atom as an indivisible unit – a fundamental building block – and we imagined it as a swirling ring. That idea is gone now, and the electron has now taken the place of the atom as an indestructible unit. All we can know about it, is how it influences other bodies. If this influence is transmitted all across the aether, we need to be able to express the relations between the electron and the aether, or its force field in the space that surrounds it. It may have other properties, of course, but physics is the science that should analyze the influence or force of one body upon others.
The question we should raise here is whether or not an electron formed by a perfectly uniform current ring can grab onto the aether in a physical sense, and how it does so if its configuration does not change.” (Joseph Larmor, 1921, boldface and italics added)
Larmor then talks about the (possible) use of the energy-momentum tensor to address the latter question, which is a very technical discussion which is of no concern to us here. Indeed, the question on how to use tensors to model how an electron would interact with other charges or how it would create an electromagnetic field is, effectively, a rather standard textbook topic now and, in case you’d be interested, you can check my blog on it or, else, (re-)read Chapters 25, 26 and 27 of Feynman’s Lectures on electromagnetism.
What grabbed my attention here was, effectively, not the technicality of the question in regard to the exact machinery of the electromagnetic force or field. It was Larmor’s description of the electron as a perpetual or persistent current ring (the French reference to it is this: un electron formé par un courant annulaire parfaitement uniforme), and his language on it, which indicates he thought of it as a rather obvious and natural idea! Hence, Parson’s 1915 toroidal ring model – the precursor to Schrödinger’s Zitterbewegung model and modern-day ring current models – was apparently pretty well established at the time! In fact, Rutherford’s lecture on the Structure of the Atom at the 1921 Conference further confirms this, as he also talks about Parson’s électron annulaire (ring electron) and the apparent magnetic properties of the electron (I will talk about Rutherford’s 1921 Solvay lecture in my next post).
Larmor’s belief that the electron was not pointlike should, of course, not surprise us in light of his rather famous work on the quantum-mechanical precession of the magnetic moment of an electron, but I actually wasn’t aware of Joseph Larmor’s own views in regard to its possible reality. In fact, I am only guessing here but his rather strong views on its reality may explain why the scientific committee − which became increasingly dominated by scientists in favor of the Bohr-Heisenberg interpretation of physical reality (basically saying we will never be able to understand it) − did not extend an invitation to Larmor to attend the all-important Solvay conferences that would follow the 1921 Conference and, most notably, the 1927 Conference that split physicists between realists and… Well… Non-realists, I guess. 🙂
Lorentz’ immediate reaction to Larmor mentioning the idea of a swirling ring (in French: un anneau tourbillon), which is part of his reply to Larmor’s remarks, is equally interesting:
“There is a lot to be said for your view that electrons are discontinuities in the aether. […] The energy-momentum formulas that I have developed should apply to all particles, with or without structure. The idea of a rotating ring [in French: anneau tournant] has a great advantage when trying to explain some issues [in the theory of an electron]: it would not emit any electromagnetic radiation. It would only produce a magnetic field in the immediate space that surrounds it. […]” (H.A. Lorentz, 1921, boldface and italics added)
Isn’t that just great? Lorentz’ answer to Larmor’s question surely does not solve all of the problems relating to the interpretation of the electron as a current ring, but it sure answers that very basic question which proponents of modern quantum mechanics usually advance when talking about the so-called failure of classical physics: electrons in some electron orbital in an atom should radiate their energy out, but so they do not. Let me actually quote from Feynman’s Lectures on Quantum Mechanics here: “Classically, the electrons would radiate light and spiral in until they settle down right on top of the nucleus. That cannot be right.”
Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! Here is the answer of the classical quantum theorists: superconducting rings of electric current do not radiate their energy out either, do they?
 Larmor believed an aether should exist. We will re-quote Robert B. Laughlin here: “The word ‘ether’ has extremely negative connotations in theoretical physics because of its past association with opposition to relativity. This is unfortunate because, stripped of these connotations, it rather nicely captures the way most physicists actually think about the vacuum. […] The modern concept of the vacuum of space, confirmed every day by experiment, is a relativistic ether. But we do not call it this because it is taboo.”
On the concept of the aether, we can also usefully translate part of Lorentz’ answer to Larmor: “As for the aether, even the physicists who still talk about it have stripped the concept of anything it might have in common with matter. I was a believer in an immobile aether myself but I realize that, because of relativity, we cannot talk about any force acting on the aether. However, I still think of the aether as the seat of electromagnetic energy (in French, lesiège de l’énergieélectromagnétique). Now, we can all think of the components of the energy-momentum tensor like we want, but if we think of some of them being real in some sense, then all of them should be real in the same sense.”
I could ‘t help giving him a straight answer. I actually like Sean Carroll, but I hate how he and others – think of John Gribbins, for example – self-appoint themselves as the only ‘gurus’ who are entitled to say something about grand theories or other ‘big ideas’: everyone else (read: all non-believers in QFT) are casually dismissed as ‘crackpot scientists’.
In fact, a few weeks before he had sent out a tweet promoting his ideas on the next ‘big ideas’, so I couldn’t help reminding him of the tweet above. 🙂
This is funny, and then it isn’t. The facts are this:
The ‘new physics’ – the quantum revolution – started almost 100 years ago but doesn’t answer many fundamental questions (simply think about explaining spin and other intrinsic properties of matter-particles here).
Geniuses like Einstein, Lorentz, Dirac and even Bell had serious doubts about the approach.
I am very sorry, Dr. Carroll. You are much smarter than most – and surely much smarter than me – but here you show you are also plain arrogant. It’s this arrogance that has prevented a creative way out of the mess that fundamental physics finds itself in today. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging !
It is part of scientific lore, for example, that the 1927 Solvay Conference was a sort of battlefield on new physics between Heisenberg and Einstein. Surprisingly, the papers and write-up of discussions reveal that Einstein hardly intervened. They also reveal that ‘battlefield stories’ such as Heisenberg telling Einstein to “stop telling God what to do” or – vice versa – Einstein declaring “God doesn’t play dice” are what they are: plain gossip or popular hear-say. Neither Heisenberg nor Einstein ever said that—or not at the occasion of the 1927 Solvay Conference, at least! Instead, we see very nuanced and very deep philosophical statements—on both sides of the so-called ‘divide’ or ‘schism’.
From all interventions, the intervention of the Dutch scientist Hendrik Antoon Lorentz stands out. I know (most of) my readers don’t get French, and so I might translate it into English one of these days. In the meanwhile, you may want to google-translate it yourself!
It is all very weird, emotional and historical. H.A. Lorentz – clearly the driving force behind those pre-WW II Solvay Conferences – died a few months after the 1927 Conference. In fact, the 1927 conference proceedings have both the sad announcement of his demise as well his interventions—such was the practice of actually physically printing stuff at the time.
For those who do read French, here you go:
DISCUSSION GENERALE DES IDEES NOUVELLES EMISES.
Causalité, Déterminisme. Probabilité.
Intervention de M. Lorentz:
“Je voudrais attirer l ’attention sur les difficultés qu’on rencontre dans les anciennes théories. Nous voulons nous faire une représentation des phénomènes, nous en former une image dans notre esprit. Jusqu’ici, nous avons toujours voulu former ces images au moyen des notions ordinaires de temps et d’espace. Ces notions sont peut-être innées; en tout cas, elles se sont développées par notre expérience personnelle, par nos observations journalières. Pour moi, ces notions sont claires et j ’avoue que je ne puis me faire une idée de la physique sans ces notions. L ’image que je veux me former des phénomènes doit être absolument nette et définie et il me semble que nous ne pouvons nous former une pareille image que dans ce système d’espace et de temps.
Pour moi, un électron est un corpuscule qui, a un instant donne, se trouve en un point détermine de l ’espace, et si j ’ai eu l ’idée qu’a un moment suivant ce corpuscule se trouve ailleurs, je dois songer à sa trajectoire, qui est une ligne dans l’espace. Et si cet électron rencontre un atome et y pénètre, et qu’après plusieurs aventures il quitte cet atome, je me forge une théorie dans laquelle cet électron conserve son individualité; c’est-à-dire que j ’imagine une ligne suivant laquelle cet électron passe à travers cet atome. Il se peut, évidemment, que cette théorie soit bien difficile à développer, mais a priori cela ne me parait pas impossible.
Je me figure que, dans la nouvelle théorie, on a encore de ces électrons. Il est possible, évidemment, que dans la nouvelle théorie, bien développée, il soit nécessaire de supposer que ces électrons subissent des transformations. Je veux bien admettre que l’électron se fond en un nuage. Mais alors je chercherai à quelle occasion cette transformation se produit. Si l’on voulait m’interdire une pareille recherche en invoquant un principe, cela me gênerait beaucoup. Il me semble qu’on peut toujours espérer qu’on fera plus tard ce que nous ne pouvons pas encore faire en ce moment. Même si l’on abandonne les anciennes idées, on peut toujours conserver les anciennes dénominations. Je voudrais conserver cet idéal d’autrefois, de décrire tout ce qui se passe dans le monde par des images nettes. Je suis prêt à admettre d’autres théories, à condition qu’on puisse les traduire par des images claires et nettes.
Pour ma part, bien que n’étant pas encore familiarisé avec les nouvelles idées que j’entends exprimer maintenant, je pourrais me représenter ces idées ainsi. Prenons le cas d’un électron qui rencontre un atome; supposons que cet électron quitte cet atome et qu’en même temps il y ait émission d’un quantum de lumière. Il faut considérer, en premier lieu, les systèmes d’ondes qui correspondent à l ’électron et à l’atome avant le choc. Après le choc, nous aurons de nouveaux systèmes d’ondes. Ces systèmes d’ondes pourront etre décrits par une fonction ψ définie dans un espace a un grand nombre de dimensions qui satisfait une équation différentielle. La nouvelle mécanique ondulatoire opèrera avec cette équation et établira la fonction ψ avant et après le choc.
Or, il y a des phénomènes qui apprennent qu’ il y a autre chose encore que ces ondes, notamment des corpuscules; on peut faire, par exemple, une expérience avec un cylindre de Faraday; il y a donc à tenir compte de l’individualité des électrons et aussi des photons. Je pense que je trouverais que, pour expliquer les phénomènes, il suffit d’admettre que l’expression ψψ* donne la probabilité que ces électrons et ces photons existent dans un volume détermine; cela me suffirait pour expliquer les expériences.
Mais les exemples donnes par M. Heisenberg m’apprennent que j’aurais atteint ainsi tout ce que l’expérience me permet d’atteindre. Or, je pense que cette notion de probabilité serait à mettre à la fin, et comme conclusion, des considérations théoriques, et non pas comme axiome a priori, quoique je veuille bien admettre que cette indétermination correspond aux possibilités expérimentales. Je pourrais toujours garder ma foi déterministe pour les phénomènes fondamentaux, dont je n’ai pas parlé. Est-ce qu’un esprit plus profond ne pourrait pas se rendre compte des mouvements de ces électrons. Ne pourrait-on pas garder le déterminisme en en faisant l’objet d’une croyance ? Faut-il nécessairement ériger l’ indéterminisme en principe?”
I added the bold italics above. A free translation of this phrase is this:
Why should we elevate determinism or – as Born en Heisenberg do – its opposite (indeterminism) to a philosophical principle?
What a beautiful statement ! Lorentz died of a very trivial cause: erysipelas, commonly known as St Anthony’s fire.
As mentioned in my previous post, Oliver Consa traces all of the nonsense in modern physics back to the Shelter Island (1947), Pocono (1948) and Oldstone (1949) Conferences. However, the first Solvay Conference that was organized after WW II was quite significant too. Niels Bohr and Robert Oppenheimer pretty much dominated it. Bohr does so by providing the introductory lecture ‘On the Notions of Causality and Complementarity’, while Oppenheimer’s ‘Electron Theory’ sets the tone for subsequent Solvay Conferences—most notably the one that would consecrate quantum field theory (QFT), which was held 13 years later (1961).
Indeed, the discussion between Oppenheimer and Dirac on the ‘Electron Theory’ paper in 1948 seems to be where things might have gone wrong—in terms of the ‘genealogy’ or ‘archaelogy’ of modern ideas, so to speak. In fact, both Oppenheimer and Dirac make rather historical blunders there:
Oppenheimer uses perturbation theory to arrive at some kind of ‘new’ model of an electron, based on Schwinger’s new QFT models—which, as we now know, do not really lead anywhere.
Dirac, however, is just too stubborn too: he simply keeps defending his un-defendable electron equation— which, of course, also doesn’t lead anywhere. [It is rather significant he was no longer invited for the next Solvay Conference.]
It is, indeed, very weird that Dirac does not follow through on his own conclusion: “Only a small part of the wave function has a physical meaning. We now have the problem of picking out that very small physical part of the exact solution of the wave equation.”
It’s the ring current or Zitterbewegung electron, of course. The one trivial solution he thought was so significant in his 1933 Nobel Prize lecture… The other part of the solution(s) is/are, effectively, bizarre oscillations which he refers to as ‘run-away electrons’.
Today I decided to look for the original Solvay Conference papers, which were digitized by the libraries of the Free University of Brussels: here is the link to them. I quickly went through the famous 1927 and 1930 Conferences (Einstein did not attend the 1933 Conference – nor did he attend the 1921 Conference) – but, to my great consternation – there is no trace of those so-called ‘heated discussions’ between Heisenberg and Einstein.
A few critical questions here and there, yes, but I don’t see anything even vaguely resembling an ‘ardent debate’ or a so-called ‘Bohr-Einstein controversy’. Am I mistaken—or am I missing something?
The fact that it’s all in French is quite interesting, and may explain why Einstein’s interventions are rare (I am not sure of the language that was used: the physicists then were multi-lingual, weren’t they?). The remarks of the French physicists Leon Brillouin, for example, are quite interesting but not widely known, it seems.
Funny remarks like Heisenberg telling Einstein ‘to stop telling God what to do’ are surely not there ! Are they folklore? Would anyone know whether these remarks are documented somewhere? I am just trying to trace those historical moments in the evolution of thought and science… 🙂
Things like this make me think a great deal of the ‘controversy’ between old (classical) and new (quantum) physics is actually just hype rather than reality. One of my readers sent me this link to a very interesting article in the LA Times in this regard. It’s a quick but very worthwhile read, showing it’s not only physics who suffers from ‘the need to sell’ real or non-existing results: here is the link—have a look!
In fact, I realize I am still looking for some kind of purpose for my new site. Perhaps I should dedicate it to research like this—separating fact from fiction in the history of ideas?
PS: I just checked the Wikipedia article on Heisenberg’s quotes and it seems Heisenberg’s “stop telling God what to do” is, effectively, disputed ! Interesting but, in light of its frequent use – also quite shocking, I would think.
PS 2: I jotted down the following based on a very quick scan of these Solvay Conferences:
Dr. Oliver Consa starts his scathing history of the sorry state of modern-day physics as follows:
“After the end of World War II, American physicists organized a series of three transcendent conferences for the development of modern physics: Shelter Island (1947), Pocono (1948) and Oldstone (1949). These conferences were intended to be a continuation of the mythical Solvay conferences. But, after World War II, the world had changed. The launch of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1945), followed by the immediate surrender of Japan, made the Manhattan Project scientists true war heroes. Physicists were no longer a group of harmless intellectuals; they had become the powerful holders of the secrets of the atomic bomb.”
Secrets that could not be kept, of course. The gatekeepers did their best, however. Julius Robert Oppenheimer was, effectively, one of them. The history of Oppenheimer – father of the atomic bomb and prominent pacifist at the same time – is well known.
It is actually quite interesting to note that the Solvay Conferences continued after WW II and that Niels Bohr and Robert Oppenheimer pretty much dominated the very first post-WW II Solvay Conference, which was held in 1948. Bohr does so by providing the introductory lecture ‘On the Notions of Causality and Complementarity’, while Oppenheimer’s ‘Electron Theory’ sets the tone for subsequent Solvay Conferences—most notably the one that would consecrate quantum field theory (QFT), which was held 13 years later (1961).
Significantly, Paul Dirac is pretty much the only one asking Oppenheimer critical questions. As for Albert Einstein, I find it rather strange that – despite him being a member of the scientific committee – he actually hardly interferes in discussions. It makes me think he had actually lost interest in the development of quantum theory.
Even more significant is the fact that Dirac was not invited nor even mentioned in the 1951 Solvay Conference.
 Institut international de physique Solvay (1962). La théorie quantique des champs: douzième Conseil de physique, tenu à l’Université libre de Bruxelles du 9 au 14 octobre 1961.
 Einstein was a member of the Solvay scientific committee from the very first conference (1911) – representing, in typical style, a country (Austria, not Germany) rather than an institution or just being a member in some personal capacity – till 1948. He was not a member of the 1951 scientific committee. The reason might well be age or a lack of interest, of course: Einstein was 72 years in 1951, and would die four years later (1955).
That’s a weird title, isn’t it? It’s the title of a fun paper (fun for me, at least—I hope for you too, of course), in which I try to show where quantum mechanics went wrong, and why and when the job of both the academic physicist as well as of the would-be student of quantum mechanics turned into calculating rather than explaining what might or might not be happening.
Modern quantum physicists are, effectively, like economists modeling input-output relations: if they are lucky, they get some kind of mathematical description of what goes in and what goes out of a process or an interaction, but the math doesn’t tell them how stuff actually happens.
So this paper of ours talks about that—in a very detailed way, actually—and then we bring the Zitterbewegung electron model and our photon model together to provide a classical explanation of Compton scattering of photons by electrons so as to show what electron-photon interference might actually be: two electromagnetic oscillations interfering (classically) with each other.
The whole thing also offers some reflections on the nature of the Uncertainty Principle.
Enjoy ! 🙂 When everything is said and done, the mystery of quantum mechanics is this: why is an electron an electron, and why is a proton a proton? 🙂
PS: I am sure you think my last statement is nonsensical. If so, I invite you to think again. Whomever can explain the electron-proton mass ratio will be able to explain the difference between the electromagnetic and strong force. In other words, he or she will be able to connect the electromagnetic and the strong ‘sector’ of a classical interpretation of quantum mechanics. 🙂
Corona-virus is bad, but it does have one advantage: more time to work on my hobby ! I finally managed to have a look at what the (in)famous Lamb shift may or may not be. Here is the link to the paper.