The spooky distant actions of quantum physics have been in troubled waters ever since Einstein brought God into the equation.
Quantum physics in its most simple description defines everything in this universe as appearing to have duality, properties of both matter and energy but not at the same time. Particles of matter seem to have substance on one hand while on the other they seem to behave like waves of light or sound. If you see the particle you can’t see the light and vice versa or so it is said. For the average person this experiential quandary is never seen but it you are a person lost in the mathematics of physics it can be an ever-present splinter in the fingers with which you hold your pencil.
The more waves the better
One old and ever present splinter has been an idea called a ‘pilot wave.’ The pilot wave is the bow wave and wake of a particle of matter as it motorboats it way through our liquid universe. That idea is that this disturbance wave goes out in all directions from every particle in motion in the universe and influences it’s course and trajectory. But it also reaches back into the particle and influences the character of the particle itself.
The notion that pilot waves might explain the peculiarities of particles dates back to the early days of quantum mechanics. French physicist Louis de Broglie described the earliest version of pilot-wave theory at the 1927 Solvay Conference in Brussels, a famous gathering of the founders of the field. As he explained to the physics illuminati who were there, including Neils Bohr, Albert Einstein, Erwin Schrödinger, Werner Heisenberg and two dozen others, pilot-wave theory made all the same predictions as the probabilistic formulation of quantum mechanics but without much of the spookiness.
The alternative quantum view, the probabilistic version, was that of Neils Bohr. It involved a single equation that represents likely and unlikely locations of particles as peaks and troughs of a wave. Bohr interpreted his probability-wave equation as a complete definition of the particle in opposition to de Broglie who urged his colleagues to use two equations: one describing a real, physical wave, and another tying the trajectory of an actual, concrete particle to the variables in that wave equation, as if the particle interacts with and is propelled by the wave rather than being defined by it.
Einstein backed Bohr in his famous quip – God does not play dice with the universe!
For physicists this was the Mohammed Ali – Fraser title fight and it has remained so to this day. The essence of the fight has been that in Bohr’s corner we are told a particle is master due to it’s incredible right hand straight punch which the opponent has to always be on the watch for but never knows when it will arrive. In the other corner we have de Broglie who fights with two fists and it becomes obvious that once one hand has swung it is most probable that the other hand will follow.
The world of physics for most of 100 years now has been almost entirely in Bohr’s corner and in fact so much so that almost anyone seen backing the upstart de Broglie has been attacked without mercy by Bohr’s fan boys. This mind numbing behaviour is due to that damnable human testosterone poisoned sporting instinct that evolution and nature seem unable to devolve by civilization.
Becoming a faithful disciple to spooky quantum mechanics is today a physicists’ test of adherence to the dogma of the high priests. Old deterministic alternatives have been expunged from physics textbooks; most people in the field haven’t ever heard of it. Sheldon Goldstein, a professor of mathematics, physics and philosophy at Rutgers University and a supporter of pilot-wave theory, blames the “preposterous” neglect of the theory on “decades of indoctrination.”
At this stage, Goldstein and several others noted, researchers risk their careers by questioning quantum orthodoxy.
The foundation behind this dogmatic blindness is none other than another trait of human kind, that of belief in some outside force that governs everything and is unknowable by mere humans. With the actions of the supreme force, god(s), being impossible to predict or heaven forbid – teach, it is left to the high priests to advise and command about what to believe and do.
But if suddenly quantum physics provides a path to enlightenment and knowing what might happen next, as de Broglie and other have suggested, then we just might be able to make the universe be and behave in the way we choose. Could there be any greater blasphemy!
The utility of understanding how the bits and pieces of this universe behave is key to everything. In the world of nuclear physics so many unexplained phenomenon have been and are today being revealed that a picture, albeit still a fuzzy picture, is finally starting to appear. Pilot waves are shaking our tray full of pebbles and those pebbles are beginning reveal patterns we think we can recognize. Just how all of these collected pebbles of the universe, from the tiniest quarks to largest atoms, behave and come and go together surely does not follow the old dogma as experimental observations prove. The high priests of physics are squirming at their theoretical pulpits.
This is why I have called my work Atom Ecology… it is an incredibly complicated environment, this universe of ours, whether you are observing it by turning over the tiniest of pebbles or looking out into the vastness of space. We humans have the capacity to understand if we can just cast out the sports team and dogma following mentality and open our minds to the beauty of the unknown yet knowable universe.
If you want to read a superb bit of writing which presents the tastiest of pablum for those who might think of becoming quantum physicists here is the piece to read in Quanta Magazine – Have We Been Interpreting Quantum Mechanics Wrong The Whole Time -Fluid Tests Hint At Quantum Reality.
If you manage to digest the story above there is a great deal more to taste but the ‘steel cut oats’ are a bit harder on ones system.