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Notes and Comments on

Quantum, Einstein, Bohr and The Great Debate About The Nature of Reality
by Manjit Kumar

by Duane Dunkerson


The conversion of potential energy to kinetic energy, the energy of motion.
[Reality? Potential energy, in grade school was perplexing, still is. Something is there, hidden. Later it can be revealed what it is but are we certain what it was?]

Blackbody radiation: Plank had equations derived from data. He derived an equation from them, then sought to find the underlying physics. Plank was driven in desperation to the quantum.

Entropy always increases. With Boltzmann's statistical interpretation, entropy nearly always increases.

Plank had need of Boltzmann's ideas to get his blackbody formula. He could only derive it if the oscillators absorbed and emitted packets of energy proportional to the frequency of oscillation. Energy at each frequency as being composed of equal, indivisible "energy elements" that he later called quanta. He did not think the energy of radiation was really chopped up into quanta. He did not quantize individual oscillators, he did groups of them.

The quantum of light came from Einstein's review of Planck's derivation of the blackbody radiation law. Planck should have gotten a different formula. Planck made his derivation fit the equation he was looking for. Planck should have gotten an equation that did not agree with the data. Lord Rayleigh had gotten the wrong one using the equipartition theorem.

Einstein discovered the quantum of light without using Planck's blackbody radiation law or his method. Planck did emission and absorption of electromagnetic radiation per his oscillators but Einstein quantized them. Einstein is identified with the photoelectric effect and the work function.

Young and his two slits experiment showed waves of light and not Newton's particles of light. Maxwell predicted electromagnetic radiation travelling as waves at light speed.

Einstein from Brownian motion could work out the size of atoms using a thermometer, a microscope, and a stopwatch.

Einstein in 1909 gave a talk derived from a thought experiment about a mirror suspended inside a blackbody. The equation he got for flux of energy and momentum of radiation contained two very distinct parts. One was for a wave theory of light and the other was for radiation as composed of quanta. 
[thought experiments. More perplexity as for potential energy. But also unease. The use of the term "thought experiment" is accepted but what if they are referred to as fantasy? Up to a point, a low point, they have a use but they remind me too much of the similar medieval schoolmen's reasoning or how Aristotle is alleged to have known an outcome of what we would call an experiment without conducting the experiment. Reality got a lousy substitute.]

In 1911 Einstein knew quanta existed but not how to construct them - only tried to understand consequences.

Röntgen and X-rays, his wife's hand. Becquerel found that Ur compounds emitted radiation whether or not they were phosphorescent. Schmidt announced thorium emitted radiation. Rutherford compared them to alpha and beta but said they penetrated more, later they were called gamma rays. Curie thought of radioactivity and found radium and polonium. Rutherford discovered half-life. Then Rutherford found elements, via radioactivity, could transform into other elements. Rutherford found alpha particles deflected, some even reversed course.

Rutherford's atom with a nucleus of positive vs. electrons stationary or in orbit would be unstable, electrons would spiral in. Bohr grouped elements by nuclear charge and radioactivity was a nuclear and not an atomic phenomenon. Bohr thought that classical physics with its no restrictions on electron orbits in the atomic domain did not apply. He quantized electron orbits. Stationary states came about.
[ In conducting their research those mentioned above read the papers others had published. They did not chat about their science. Some have said that science truly advances by chat and that published works aren't the story. Can one say there is an Old Science and a New?]

Inside an atom, angular momentum was quantized. Bohr saw Balmer's formula for spectral lines and knew it was electrons jumping between allowed orbits. An electron's quantum leap did not allow one to know where it was during a jump. Transition between orbits (energy levels) has to occur instantaneously or the electron as it goes from orbit to orbit would radiate energy continuously. An electron could not occupy space between orbits. It disappeared while in one orbit and instantly reappeared in another.
[ What's an instant for an electron? Using "macro" time for quantum activity is sure to be too slow. All this about radiation, electromagnetism, electrons, and so on was presented as taking place in good old "space" and considerations of time did not enter in]

Bohr could not explain fine structure in spectral lines. Sommerfeld could do so by using elliptical orbits, not circular ones. Later Sommerfeld had the orbits not in a plane, the orientation of the orbits could vary.

Einstein: Earth moves around the Sun not because of a mysterious Newtonian force pulling Earth but from the warping of space due to the Sun's mass. Matter warps space and warped space "tells" matter how to move.
[For Newton gravity was in the in-between, a force between Sun and Earth. There was the Sun, then something, then Earth. For Einstein, nothing intervenes, so which is it, mass or space? What gets warped (forced) is space - the "getting" involves a time element (never mind spacetime just now) involving mass. So then mass is preeminent. But there is an equally mysterious force that compels space to warp because of mass. Mass is where? Isn't it there, in (or "of " or whatever) space. Mass, of space, warps space?]

[The difficulty still resided in an unrootable mechanics. Newton could not get beyond the mechanics of his time. Einstein accepted some of the Newtonian view or Einstein had to start entirely from scratch. He did not. He accepted clocks as time, more mechanics. Neither could get beyond remembrance. Newton remembered mechanical objects of his day. Einstein selected a narrower mechanics of clocks.
Heisenberg and Bohr strove to negate mechanics and ventured into incomprehension. They swore off remembrance but created new memories like a cow with giant purple polka dots.]

An apple released from a tree. To fall or not to fall? No such dialogue occurs. An electron moving from stable state to excited state has a dialogue (or monologue).
[Gravity can be seen as mechanical, as streams of interlocking extremely tiny and extremely fast particles or as bumps in continuous flows. They can be sent out, given impetus via rotation a la Gödel or from a more prosaic spin.]

Compton scattering, if you have quanta with momentum, then that is a particle property.
[Transferring macro concepts like momentum and spin and so on to quanta can get you in trouble like with the uncertainty principle having micro concerns given a macro explanation, for example, assuming momentum "explains" quantum action.]

De Broglie's electrons as waves and especially as standing waves for stable states around a nucleus are interesting.
[ The wave-particle duality indicates an I-don't-know-what -is-going-on mentality. It verges on helplessness or defeat. Waves upon quanta are an imposition.]

The Pauli exclusion principle- a theory for Bohr's empirically derived electron shell atomic model. There is an assignment of quantum numbers.
[Giving out numbers for this and that in the quantum world is a serious business, a great feat, but more like counting potatoes in a field.]

After Goudsmit and Uhlenbeck with their spin the application of classical physics to describe quanta via a piece of existing physics would go no further.

Matrix multiplication and it does not commute for Heisenberg, Jordan, Born and Dirac. Einstein thinks it was calculation by magic. Then Schrödinger using de Broglie's ideas and getting waves, another quantum "mechanics", using the familiar differential equations. Matrix mechanics and wave mechanics were mathematically equivalent.
[The realization of mechanics always involves the little in the bigger. We have nothing known to us less than quanta.]

Schrödinger came up with the "wave packet" to represent the electron. An electron appears to be a particle. But the waves would disperse. A multi-dimensional space was required. Helium required a 6-dimensional space, lithium got 9 dimensions and uranium needed 276.
[Ugh, let's get real]

Bohr would say until an observation is made an electron does not exist anywhere. Only when measurement is made, then the wave function collapses as the possible states become one actual state. Born felt an electron was a probability wave per Schrödinger. Einstein wanted observable magnitudes in physical theory.
[Potentiality again. Not quite the same thing as expectation. As some say, the future is now. As others could say the future electrons are only electrons when the present is thrust upon us. Is that one electron at a time or a class of objects? For potentiality, what is past is not past but now. The past is now.]

As Heisenberg noted an electron in a cloud chamber does leave a well-defined path. That path is of droplets. Quantum mechanics restricts what can be known and observed. But, according to quantum mechanics, how to decide what can be observed? For the uncertainty principle it is position or momentum. Also, energy or time. Heisenberg was dealing in the limit of the size of Planck's constant.

Bohr thought both particle and wave were needed to describe quantum reality. No experiment could ever reveal a particle and a wave at the same time.
[Gödel's spinning universe? Anything with spin. Polarization? Brownian motion? Light exerting a force. Hiding in plain sight? Radio? Auroras? Those very small and very fast in a stage assemble into a wave. To say that a particle "is made up" of these small and fast is the wrong way to put it. They are what they are, we group them into particles and they move as waves if we group them as such. So do we need a wave that spins?]

Heisenberg wanted meaning through measurement but Bohr saw a basis in ideas from classical theory. For Bohr there is no knowledge of what light "really is", only how it behaves. No patterns, no causality. Heisenberg maintained we cannot know the present in great detail.
[ For 1.) position vs. momentum you have a position vs. mass positions. 2.) For energy vs. time you have counting mass vs. motion (rateless)
For 1. it is a process of counting vs. a process of counting
For 2. it is a process of counting vs. a change in distance (delta d)
For 1. it is static vs. static and for 2. it is static vs. dynamic
For delta d is a change in d from what is to what was. We are eternally in what was. The past is all we know. Uncertainty is always about the present. If the uncertainty principle is about that, it is true. But if it is of the past, surely we can be accurate about it.
For macro objects you deal in a "large" past. For the micro it is a small one, too immediate a past. That is all that the "uncertainty principle" is about.]

The EPR (Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen) argument caused Bohr to retreat into saying measurement was not now a disturbance but that a micro object being measured and the apparatus doing the measuring formed a whole. So then if A and B were once interacting before separation then they forever were of a single system. It was Schrödinger that came up with "entanglement". S's cat was neither dead nor alive until checked on.
[Which comes first? Classical world of macro or the micro measurement? ]

Einstein knew that a philosophy based on science was dangerous. E was a philosophical realist with a basis in belief. Said E, it is still existence and reality that one wants to comprehend. Any confidence in the rational nature of reality is religious in so far as it (reality) is accessible to reason or science or they become uninspired empiricism.
E was desperately trying to change physics. Classical physics needed replacement. He wanted a revolution more radical than quantum mechanics.

Bohm : if EPR could be proved, this could mean it was necessary to search for a more complete theory perhaps containing hidden variables for which quantum theory would be a limiting case.

Bohm : a pilot wave, a more mathematically sophisticated and coherent version of the de Broglie's pilot wave model. The pilot wave guides particles.

Von Neumann asked in a book in 1932 if quantum mechanics could be reformulated as a deterministic theory by using hidden variables. VN said no. The appeal of hidden variables comes from Einstein's claim that quantum mechanics is incomplete. Maybe there is an underlying layer of reality. Hidden variables could be particles, forces, or something new that would restore an independent objective reality. What appeared probabilistic could, with help from hidden variables, become deterministic.
[It could be a determinism. One that remains unknown. The macro is said to be deterministic and that is based, if the micro are accepted, on a micro world judged by macro standards to lack determinism. So what? A thorough going determinism, I suppose, cannot rest content unless each and every "thing" be it macro or micro is a "determined thing".]

Bohm came up with an alternative to the Copenhagen interpretation. He was ignored or attacked. Einstein dismissed Bohm's hidden variables as "too cheap". Also, Bohm had changes anytime a magnet was moved anywhere in the universe.

John Stewart Bell took up Bohm's ideas. In 1964 he decided to find out if non-locality was only a feature of Bohm's model or if it had to be applied to any hidden variable model. Bell used quantum spin. A particle disintegrates and one gets a spin-up and a spin-down electron. If one is up the other is down and vice versa.
Bell changed the relative orientation of the spin detectors. With quantum mechanics one could calculate the exact degree of spin correlation for a given orientation of the detectors. Bell discovered one could distinguish between quantum mechanics and ANY hidden variable theory. (in 1966 Bell showed Von Neumann wrong about hidden variables.) One did this by measuring the correlation of pairs of electrons for a given setting of spin detectors and repeating with a different orientation. Use of hidden variables should get correlation coefficients in the range -2 to +2 but quantum mechanics predicted some outside that range. Clauser in 1969 said he could do an experiment to decide between quantum mechanics and hidden variables.

Clauser and Freedman used correlated photons. They utilized a property of photons called polarization. What they were dealing with could be polarized up or down. C and F found in favor of Bohr. Then there were 7 more experiments by others. In 1972-1977 there were 9 tests. Einstein was supported in 7. In 1981 and 1982 Aspect used lasers and computers and got in favor of Bohr. So then there is either no independent reality or locality is not preserved, meaning there is a faster than light influence.
[Solely from the standpoint of speed, those that make up, are associated with, or however it is put, must be faster than the photon.]

Everett in 1957 put forward the many-Universe approach. It is also an alternative-U approach so that Schrödinger's cat could be dead in one U and alive in another. The use of multi-U avoids the Copenhagen problem of what act of observation could bring about the collapse of the wave function of the Universe. The Copenhagen interpretation requires an observer outside the U. But there is no "outside", so how could the U get started?

In 1997 came the teleportation of properties of one particle to another.


from the Notes Section, Chapter 12, No. 9. As regards the lightbox experiment - uncontrollable transfer of momentum to light box when pointer and scale is illuminated causes box to move unpredictably. Clock inside now moving in a G field. The rate at which it ticks (the flow of time) changes unpredictably.
[A flow is of the macro. Can there be micro time and does it flow?]

Appendix I

The Great Chain of Being, once popular for a long time, put God at the top and various beings were linked from the bottom upward. They could ascend. Going the other way, and meaning no disrespect, God could be at bottom the mechanical support we and they, being and non-being, need for establishment.

Once established, on it goes. On with various stages, or call them levels or call them scales. We are of one stage. Other stages are of stars. There is a galactic level. Also there is an atomic scale, a particle stage, and a quantum level. Still more can be found beyond the quantum. Still more too beyond the galaxies.

Each stage, level, or scale, as the case may be, has a characteristic range of size, velocity, distance, and time. One can readily propose a Cosmic scale encompassing all velocities, distances, sizes, and times. If such is not God, it is nothing. Take your pick.

Appendix II

Maybe it is more so a "I got's to know" and you put the loaded revolver, with a round in every one of the nine chambers, to your own head. If you pull the trigger, what have you learned? In the chambers are nihilism, atheism, and scientism. Let's not forget hatred, and anxiety and indulgence. Lastly, there is epistemology, ontology, and your choice.

Whatever you chose it is ultimately meaningless. Our "it" has been here before us. There is no meaning beyond that "it". It includes a net that awaits us all. It is a hidden thing, never eluded.










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