Physical humbug

A good thing and a bad thing today:

1. The good thing is: I expanded my paper which deals with more advanced questions on this realist interpretation of QM (based on mass-without-mass models of elementary particles that I have been pursuing). I think I see everything clearly now: Maxwell’s equations only make sense as soon as the concepts of charge densities (expressed in coulomb per volume or area unit: C/m3 or C/m2) and currents (expressed in C/s) start making sense, which is only above the threshold of Planck’s quantum of action and within the quantization limits set by the Planck-Einstein relation. So, yes, we can, finally, confidently write this:

Quantum Mechanics = All of Physics = Maxwell’s equations + Planck-Einstein relation

2. The bad thing: I had an annoying discussion on ResearchGate on the consistency of quantum physics with one of those people who still seem to doubt both special as well as general relativity theory.

To get my frustration out, I copy the exchange below – as it might be informative when you are confronted with weirdos on some scientific forum too! It starts with a rather non-sensical remark on the reality of infinities, and an equally non-sensical question on how we get quantization from classical equations (Maxwell’s equations and then Gauss and Stokes theorem), to which the answer has to be: we do not, of course! For that, you need to combine them with the Planck-Einstein relation!

Start of the conversation: Jean Louis Van Belle, I found Maxwell quite consistent with, for instance Stokes aether model. Can you explain how he ‘threw it out‘. It was a firm paradigm until Einstein removed it’s power to ‘change‘ light speed, yet said “space without aether is unthinkable.” (Leiden ’21). He then mostly re-instated it in his ’52 paper correcting 1905 interpretations in bounded ‘spaces in motion within spaces) completed in the DFM. ‘QM’ then emerges.

My answer: Dear Peter – As you seem to believe zero-dimensional objects can have properties and, therefore, exist, and also seem to believe infinity is also real (not just a mathematical idealization), then we’re finished talking, because – for example – no sensible interpretation of the Planck-Einstein relation is possible in such circumstances. Also, all of physics revolves around conjugate variables, and these combine in products or product sums that have very small but finite values (think of typical canonic commutator relations, for example): products of infinity and zero are undefined – in mathematics too, by the way! I attach a ‘typically Feynman’ explanation of one of these commutator relations, which talks about the topic rather well. I could also refer to Dirac’s definition of the Dirac function (real probability functions do not collapse into an infinite probability density), or his comments on the infinities appearing in the perturbation theory he himself had developed, and which he then distanced himself from exactly because it generated infinities, which could not be ‘real’ according to him. I’ve got the feeling you’re stuck in 19th century classical physics. Perhaps you missed one or two other points from Einstein as well (apart from the references you give).To relate this discussion to the original question of this thread, I’d say: physicists who mistake mathematical idealizations for reality do obviously not understand quantum mechanics. Cheers – JL

PS: We may, of course, in our private lives believe that God ‘exists’ and that he is infinite and whatever, but that’s personal conviction or opinion: it is not science, nothing empirical that has been verified and can be verified again at any time. Oh – and to answer your specific question on Maxwell’s equations and vector algebra (Gauss and Stokes theorem), they do not incorporate the Planck-Einstein relation. That’s all. Planck-Einstein (quantization of reality) + Maxwell (classical EM) = quantum physics.

Immediate reply: Jean Louis Van Belle , I don’t invoke either zero dimensional objects, infinity or God! Neither the Planck length or Wolframs brilliant 10-93 is ‘zero’. Fermion pair scale is the smallest ‘Condensed Matter‘ but I suggest we must think beyond that to the condensate & ‘vacuum energy’ scales to advance understanding. More 22nd than 19th century! Einstein is easy to ‘cherry pick’ but his search for SR’s ‘physical’ state bore fruit in 1952!

[This Peter actually did refer to infinities and zeroes in math as being more than mathematical idealizations, but then edited out these specific stupidities.]

My answer: Dear Peter – I really cannot understand why you want to disprove SRT. SRT (or, at least, the absoluteness of lightspeed) comes out of Maxwell’s equations. Einstein just provided a rather heuristic argument to ‘prove’ it. Maxwell’s equations are the more ‘real thing’ – so to speak. And then GRT just comes from combining SRT and Mach’s principle. What problem are you trying to solve? I understand that, somehow, QM does NOT come across as ‘consistent’ to you (so I do not suffer from that: all equations look good to me – I just have my own ‘interpretation’ of it, but I do not question their validity). You seem to suspect something is wrong with quantum physics somewhere, but I don’t see exactly where.

Also, can you explain in a few words what you find brilliant about Wolfram’s number? I find the f/m = c2/h = 1.35639248965213E50 number brilliant, because it gives us a frequency per unit mass which is valid for all kinds of mass (electron, proton, or whatever combination of charged and neutral matter you may think of), but so that comes out of the E = mc2 and E = hf, and so it is not some new ‘God-given’ number or something ‘very special’: it is just a straight combination of two fundamental constants of Nature that we already know. I also find the fine-structure constant (and the electric/magnetic constants) ‘brilliant numbers’ but, again, I don’t think they are something mysterious. So what is Wolfram’s number about? What kind of ratio or combination of functions or unexplained explanation or new undiscovered simplification of existing mainstream explanations does it bring? Is it a new proportionality constant – some elasticity of spacetime, perhaps? A combination of Planck-scale units? Does it connect g and the electric constant? An update of (the inverse of) Eddington’s estimate of the number of protons in the Universe based on latest measurements of the cosmological constant? Boltzmann’s number and Avogadro’s constant (or, in light of the negative exponent, their inverse) – through the golden ratio or a whole new ‘holographic’ theory? New numbers are usually easy to explain in terms of existing theory – or in terms of what they propose to change to existing theory, no?

Perhaps an easy start is to give us a physical dimension for Wolfram’s number. My 1.35639248965213E50 number is the (exact) number of oscillations per kg, for example – not oscillations of ‘aether’ or something, but of charge in motion. Except for the fine-structure constant, all numbers in physics have a physical dimension (except if they’re scaling or coupling constants, such as the fine-structure constant), even if it’s only a scalar (plain number), it’s a number describing x units of something) or a density (then it is x per m3 or m2, per J, per kg, per coulomb, per ampere, etcetera – whatever SI unit or combination of SI units you want to choose).

On a very different note, I think that invoking some statement or a late paper of Einstein in an attempt to add ‘authority’ to some kind of disproof of SRT invokes the wrong kind of authority. 🙂 If you would say Heisenberg or Bohr or Dirac or Feynman or Oppenheimer started doubting SRT near the end of their lives, I’d look up and say: what? Now, no. Einstein had the intellectual honesty to speak up, and speak up rather loudly (cf. him persuading the US President to build the bomb).

As for the compatibility between SRT and GRT and quantum mechanics, the relativistically invariant argument of the wavefunction shows no such incompatibility is there (see Annex II and III of The Zitterbewegung hypothesis and the scattering matrix). Cheers – JL

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Personal conclusion: I think I’ll just stay away from ResearchGate discussions for a while. They are not always good for one’s peace of mind. :-/