Inspiration

My papers resulted in a book that will, hopefully, be published soon by IOP Publishing, the publishing company of the Institute of Physics. The abstract of the book—which I reproduce hereunder—sums up the inspiration for my work.

Abstract

Not only Einstein – but the whole first generation of quantum physicists (Schrödinger, Dirac, Pauli and even Heisenberg) had become skeptical about the theory they had created. A younger generation of scientists – the likes of Dyson, Schwinger and Feynman – kept soldiering on by refining perturbation theory and renormalization techniques but Dirac dismissed all of that: “This so-called ‘good theory’ involves neglecting infinities. This is just not sensible mathematics. Sensible mathematics involves neglecting a quantity when it is small—not neglecting it just because it is infinitely great and you do not want it!”

Even Bell hoped that some “radical conceptual renewal” would, one day, make his own theorem – which tells us there are no hidden variables that can explain quantum-mechanical interference in some kind of classical way – irrelevant. In fact, he clearly did not believe it had much value as he kept exploring hidden-variable theories himself—but his untimely death prevented him from finding what he was obviously looking for. Quantum electrodynamics is a theory about electrons, photons and their interactions. At the same time, the theory has no model for what an electron or a photon might actually be: attempts to interpret the wavefunction as representing a wavicle itself are dismissed out of hand because of these bizarre 720-degree symmetries, which we we cannot imagine because independent objects in spacetime can’t have these.

All of the weirdness of Nature is, therefore, in this weird description of the fields: perturbation theory, gauge theories, Feynman diagrams, quantum field theory, etcetera. This complexity in the mathematical framework does not match the intuition that, if the theory has a simple circle group structure, one should not be calculating a zillion integrals all over space over 891 4-loop Feynman diagrams to explain the magnetic moment of an electron in a Penning trap. The current difficulties to reconcile the idea that an amplitude isn’t real with the reality of weak measurement point to the same: something just doesn’t feel right.

Occam’s Razor Principle says we should reduce complexity and search for mathematical parsimony. Hence, if possible, we should use all of the degrees of freedom in the mathematical expression when describing reality. Orthodox quantum mechanics clearly doesn’t do so. We’ve settled on the convention that – if the wavefunction presents anything at all – it is some theoretical spin-zero particle. Electrons and photons have spin. We can and, therefore, should incorporate spin in the description. If we do so, we suddenly find all makes sense. The 720-degree symmetries disappear and we find wavefunction math provides us with the necessary degrees of freedom to model any situation and, in particular, that it provides a wonderfully beautiful geometric description of both the electron as well as the photon, explaining both their particle character as well as diffraction and interference.

This new theory – the Zitterbewegung interpretation of quantum mechanics – provides a viable alternative. Theorists pursuing it feel they are on the right track because it is actually based on a theoretical implication of Dirac’s own wave equation for the electron—an implication which Schrödinger had stumbled upon when detailing its solutions. The electron model combines the idea of a pointlike charge and Wheeler’s idea of mass without mass: the mass of the electron is the equivalent mass of the energy in the oscillation of the pointlike charge. The new interpretation also offers a photon model that has the potential to provide an alternative explanation of a photon interfering with itself in a Mach-Zehnder or other interferometer. The theory is testable, and this book shows how. It also documents the efforts of non-mainstream theorists as they are working their way through the various implications of the new approach.

Dirac’s very last paper, which he wrote just before his death in 1984, had a rather significant title – the Inadequacies of Quantum Field Theory – and this one quote out of it may sum it all up: “These rules of renormalization give, surprisingly, excessively good agreement with experiments. Most physicists say that these working rules are, therefore, correct. I feel that is not an adequate reason. Just because the results happen to be in agreement with observation does not prove that one’s theory is correct.” This book shows there is a viable alternative.

Jean Louis Van Belle, Drs, MAEc, BAEc, BPhil, 3 March 2019

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