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Quantum Physics

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#1
drc1379

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If at the center of matter there is basically nothing but empty space. What does that mean with relation to something existing out of essentially nothing.

#2
DavidOdden

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If at the center of matter there is basically nothing but empty space.  What does that mean with relation to something existing out of essentially nothing.

That matter isn't just nothing? A sponge has a lot of air space in it, but still it has some non-air.

Dave Odden


#3
drc1379

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That matter isn't just nothing? A sponge has a lot of air space in it, but still it has some non-air.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I was hoping to get a response from you concerning this topic. I feel you are a very perceptive person and can help me to better evaluate this position. What do you mean by non-air? I am speaking at a quantum level there is basically nothing. Please explain your position.

#4
DavidOdden

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I am speaking at a quantum level there is basically nothing.

I mean that even if there is a lot of space, it simply is not the case that there's just "nothingness". A lepton is something; a quark is something. I don't understand what you mean when you say that "at a quantum level there is basically nothing". Even if there's "hardly any matter" and a whole lot of space, still there is some matter (which is what matters).

Dave Odden


#5
realitycheck44

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If at the center of matter there is basically nothing but empty space.  What does that mean with relation to something existing out of essentially nothing.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Define what you mean by empty space. As Steven Speicher pointed out in an earlier thread, nothingness is an impossible concept. If "nothing separates two points, what stops them from becoming the same point? Nothing.

Zak
"I want life in every word to the extent that it's absurd." - The Postal Service

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#6
jrs

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...  at the center of matter there is basically nothing but empty space.

Classically, particles may be points, but the space between them is occupied by force-fields: gravity, electro-magnetism, the weak nuclear force, and the strong nuclear force (and perhaps a Higgs force). Also "matter" can also be considered to form fields, including: an electron field and fields for the up-quark and down-quark.

From the stand-point of quantum theory, space is filled with zero-point fluctuations, i.e. virtual pairs of particles and their anti-particles.

If string theory is correct, then the particles have extension -- they are loops of super-string which have a non-zero chance of colliding with each other.

If matter still seems like emptiness to you after considering the above, then consider: while fluff might have a hard time moving rock, it has no difficulty moving other fluff.

#7
Cake

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If at the center of matter there is basically nothing but empty space. What does that mean with relation to something existing out of essentially nothing.


It is true that there is alot of space inside an atom. What is not true is that there nothing at the heart of matter. One should be careful to separate the concept nothing from empty space, i believe.

As for what constitutes matter, it might be worthwhile to consider the question "what should the shape of a fundamental particle be?" While a more serious student of physics may consider this question ridiculuous, it may lead a relative newcomer to consider all the possibilities for the spatial extent of a particle. (infinitesmal point (dirac delta function), sphere, square, star, wiggly string, heart shaped, etc)

What i take to be the basic idea of quantum mechanics, is that a particle has the shape of a wave. Now there are again problems with such a simple interpretation like what to do with the negative and imaginary parts of the wave. (i believe no one has a good explanation for the meaning of imaginary numbers as physical solutions)

Many people use quantum as a vehicle for their wildly fanciful philosophical theories, or are generally tripped up by its conclusions. I however think that the basic understanding I have presented should help folks to steer clear of too much trouble.

PS I am thinking of writing a book on this subject someday. If anyone has any thoughts on this explanation, i would like to hear them, regardless of the education in physics you have. [email protected]
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#8
EC

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Cake, you should check out Leonard Little's Theory of Elementary Waves. It is a rational theory of Quantum Mechanics in which waves are waves and particles are particles. I think you will find it illuminating and correct some of your mistakes and misconceptions.
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#9
Cake

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Cake, you should check out Leonard Little's Theory of Elementary Waves. It is a rational theory of Quantum Mechanics in which waves are waves and particles are particles. I think you will find it illuminating and correct some of your mistakes and misconceptions.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



I believe it was Lewis Little who developed the theory.

I have read the introduction, the experimental section along with outline of the theory. It is very well thought out and preserves (almost) the mathmatical formalism of quantum mechanics, while providing a very reasonable basis for it.

However, the theory carries with it the assumption that a particle must be single point in space. This assumption is one many people make in conceptualizing the phenomena associated with the mechanics of subatomic particles. If an electron is a wave of a certian amplitude, it can interact with two slits to produce an interference pattern, or be affected by a field which enters part of its wave amplitude.

I do however find certian parts of quantum mechanics to be philosophically repugnant.

1) wave particle duality- I think they should remove the particle part altogether

2) fundamental indeterminacy- This obviously contradicts the law of identity. I think it represents a lack of knowledge about the nature of what is being described. (shouldn't that be obvious to everyone? apparently not.) I think the tendancy for physicists to overgeneralize is mostly responsible for this one (I am a more of a chemist myself).

Note i did not mention non-locality. It contradicts relativity, not identity. (see the journal of objective science)
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#10
drc1379

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I mean that even if there is a lot of space, it simply is not the case that there's just "nothingness". A lepton is something; a quark is something. I don't understand what you mean when you say that "at a quantum level there is basically nothing". Even if there's "hardly any matter" and a whole lot of space, still there is some matter (which is what matters).

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



You are absolutely right. After really reading what I had written saying "nothing"
was not a good word to use. There seems to always be "something" that exits at all times whether we are aware of it or not.

#11
drc1379

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Define what you mean by empty space. As Steven Speicher pointed out in an earlier thread, nothingness is an impossible concept. If "nothing separates two points, what stops them from becoming the same point? Nothing.

Zak

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



I fully understand what you are saying about nothingness and it does seem completely impossible. On the other hand, if we look at it in the sense that to appreciate "something" we have to recognize and appreciate "nothing" as well. As in there must be one to appreciate the concept of the other. What are your thoughts on this and any application to quantum physics if any? and "be open to the idea that every possible answer to every possible question is probable... until proven otherwise". A quote I wrote some time ago.

#12
Cake

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I fully understand what you are saying about nothingness and it does seem completely impossible.  On the other hand, if we look at it in the sense that to appreciate "something" we have to recognize and appreciate "nothing" as well.  As in there must be one to appreciate the concept of the other.  What are your thoughts on this and any application to quantum physics if any?  and "be open to the idea that every possible answer to every possible question is probable... until proven otherwise".  A quote I wrote some time ago.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



I was once intrigued by a question asked about the nothingness surrounding an atom. I have one quick question. By nothingness, do you mean empty space (the vaccuum) , or do you mean the pure absence of being?
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#13
drc1379

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I was once intrigued by a question asked about the nothingness surrounding an atom.  I have one quick question.  By nothingness, do you mean empty space (the vaccuum) , or do you mean the pure absence of being?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Vacuum. Pure absence of being doesn't sound good from my perspective. aahe

#14
frostynova

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electromegetic waves can exist within vacuums, and you certainly can't consider them as nothing.

#15
Hal

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I fully understand what you are saying about nothingness and it does seem completely impossible.  On the other hand, if we look at it in the sense that to appreciate "something" we have to recognize and appreciate "nothing" as well.  As in there must be one to appreciate the concept of the other.

We can speak sensibly about nothing in certain contexts. If I open my fridge and find no food in it, then I can correctly say 'there is nothing in my fridge' even though it might actually contain shelves and air. Similarly when I walk into an empty house I can say 'there is nothing here', even though there may be spiders crawling on the ground. When I investigate the physical makeup of a table, I can say "most of it is nothing" as a way of expressing my surprise that (my pre-theoretical conception of) 'matter' only makes up a very small percentage of the table at the subatomic level. All these ways of speaking are fine, but in all of them we are only talking about 'nothing' as the absence of a specific 'something' (which depends on the context). So we can appreciate the idea of 'nothing' without having to postulate some kind of context-free "absolute nothingness"

Think of the way you'd teach a young child what the word 'nothing' meant. You might show him a drawer containing only 2 apples, then take them out and say "now there is nothing in this drawer". There are numerous other examples you could use. But what you wouldnt say to him is: "Well, imagine the negation of all that exists - the infinite void of nonbeing...".

Edited by Hal, 19 July 2005 - 09:45 PM.


#16
ikaika2884

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1) wave particle duality-  I think they should remove the particle part altogether



I'm curious as to this, could you explain it in more detail. Recently I've been reading John Gribbin's Schrodinger's Kittens and the Search for Reality, and it talks in length about the wave particle duality. In fact, that is one of the main premise's of some of the theories involved, however, this is my first entry into this topic, so I'm more than a little interested in hearing both sides of the story.

#17
Cake

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I'm curious as to this, could you explain it in more detail. 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



What I meant by not agreeing the wave-particle duality, is that it creates a tension of combining two pictures of a particle which never coinicide. I believe that this tension can be relieved by showing that the assumption that a particle is a single point in space is fallacious. Equally ridiculous is the assumption that a wave means only a sine curve.

It is well known in the scientific community that Fourier showed that the addition of sine waves of many different wavelengths can yield almost any shape. (Dont get bogged down in the almost.) If one adds enough sine waves together, one can even reproduce a "wave" that has an infinite amplitude at a single point in space and zero amplitude everywhere else (the definition of a point particle with infinite density, a dirac delta function).

My general point is simple. The wave/particle duality is acutally representative of a continuum of possibilities ranging from a single point in space to a single sine wave. The only difference is how many terms in a Fourier series you use.
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#18
Unconquered

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If you're interested in quantum mechanics you would do well to read about Dr. Lewis Little's Theory of Elementary Waves, here: http://www.yankee.us.com/TEW/

#19
ttn

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If you're interested in quantum mechanics you would do well to read about Dr. Lewis Little's Theory of Elementary Waves, here: http://www.yankee.us.com/TEW/

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



I can't believe that people are still seriously advocating TEW. It's probably a good thing for interested young physicists to read Little's paper -- but only as an exercise in physical and philosophical detection. You must go into it knowing that this theory does not work.

Let me be specific lest there be any confusion. TEW is inconsistent with certain experimental facts, certain correlations which are predicted by orthodox QM and which have been validated in the lab. In his original paper, Lewis Little claimed that there was an error in the experiments, and that a corrected experiment would demonstrate disagreement with the QM predictions and agreement with TEW. Then he changed his mind (perhaps when he realized that other experiments already existed which did not have the alleged shortcoming he had pointed to earlier) and said that the experiments and the QM predictions were correct. He thus modified his theory so that it would make the same predictions as QM. But this modified version was riddled with errors, and was retracted when those errors were pointed out. Click here for the announcement of that retraction, but stick around and look at the other messages leading up to and then following it.

More recently, Little put forward yet another version of the theory which he claimed was able to explain the experimental results without nonlocal (i.e., superluminal) causation. But this is simply not the case. The paper is vague, but to whatever extent this latest version of the theory is local, it disagrees with the experiments; and to whatever extent it agrees with the experiments, it is not local. (See, for example, here and here.)

None of this is a surprise, given Bell's Theorem. This theorem proves that no local theory can explain the observed correlations. Period. End of story. This means that Little's whole approach is doomed from the start, that his (and his followers') philosophical attacks against already-existing non-local hidden variable theories are revealed as complete rationalism, and that (of particular relevance here) any association of Little or his theory with Objectivism is a complete disaster for the latter.

I recognize that many honest people may not be in a position to assess the technical evidence on this issue. Such a person is in the position of having to accept "expert testimony" (or, better, to simply refrain from having an opinion on TEW). I would simply like to urge anyone in that position to at least recognize that certain experts believe not only that TEW is wrong, but that it is crackpot pseudo-science which should never, under any circumstances, be assimilated to or associated with Ayn Rand and Objectivism. In particular, I urge anyone who cares about Objectivism to think twice before you advocate publicly for TEW. I should also mention that nobody who is interested in this topic should be satisfied with expert testimony. The issues are actually not very technical or difficult. A good place to start would be Tim Maudlin's spectacular book, "Quantum Non-Locality and Relativity." Reading some of the (less technical) papers in J.S. Bell's "Speakable and Un-Speakable in Quantum Mechanics" would also be a very good idea. But perhaps the best starting point for someone who knows some physics and wants to get a rational toe-hold into quantum mechanics, would be Sheldon Goldstein's online article on [url="http://"http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qm-bohm"]Bohmian Mechanics[/url].

#20
Unconquered

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I can't believe that people are still seriously advocating TEW.  It's probably a good thing for interested young physicists to read Little's paper -- but only as an exercise in physical and philosophical detection.  You must go into it knowing that this theory does not work.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


But your idea of "work" is advocating conventional QM, which is acausal and purports to link events "instantaneously" across, potentially, millions of light years via "quantum entanglement"?

#21
TomL

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If at the center of matter there is basically nothing but empty space.  What does that mean with relation to something existing out of essentially nothing.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Not a damn thing. The center of a very small particle is not the whole particle. Solid objects are still solid.

While more about particle structure may yet be discovered, none of it will change what we already know about the universe. It must be consistent with already established knowledge -- the knowledge used to discover the information in the first place.

See my essay The Relationship between Philosophy and Science.
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#22
ttn

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But your idea of "work" is advocating conventional QM, which is acausal and purports to link events "instantaneously" across, potentially, millions of light years via "quantum entanglement"?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


If you find the non-locality implied by "quantum entanglement" so objectionable, why then would you advocate TEW? It too is non-local, as I explained in painstaking and exhaustive detail here. (By the way, TEW's failure to account for the results of the EPR-Bell experiments locally, as its author claims it does, is not the only problem with it. The theory is incoherent or just wrong in a number of other ways. But it's convenient to focus on the Bell issue since it is so cut and dried.)

But the bigger problem is this: if you object to non-locality, your problem is with nature, not with any particular theory. Bell's theorem proves that no theory satisfying Bell Locality can be consistent with the reasonably-well-verified QM predictions. So if you think theories should agree with experimental data, you just can't have a Bell Local theory. It just isn't possible. Until you (and whatever other few advocates of TEW remain) grasp this -- i.e., understand Bell's Theorem -- you will continue to bash your head against the wall of reality and make yourself look like a fool doing so. All I ask is that if you or anyone else insists on doing this, you not associate yourself with Objectivism while doing it. I don't mean to be rude or insulting, and I don't know you nearly well enough to know whether you're deliberately distorting things here or just honestly confused. I'm certainly willing and inclined to assume it's the latter. If so, you simply need to understand Bell's Theorem better. Get Maudlin's book and read it. Or read one of Bell's relatively accessible articles such as "Bertlmann's Socks and the Nature of Reality" (which is by the way completely brilliant and wonderful to read). But the theorem exists, and you really just can't take the position you're taking here unless you refute it (which I'll bet my life isn't going to happen). Understand and accept the theorem; understand and refute it; or don't have a position either way on this issue. Those are really the only three honest options.

By the way, it is preposterous to call me an advocate of "conventional QM". I am (with certain qualifications) an advocate of Bohmian Mechanics, a theory which has been repeatedly proved to be impossible by bogus proofs, systematically mis-understood, mis-characterized, and mis-represented by commentators, systematically ignored by physicists and in particular textbook writers, dismissed for reasons that are entirely bogus or inconsistent or which represent actual virtues of the theory. In short, my favored version of QM is *anything* but conventional. If you don't know enough to know the difference between Bohm's theory and Bohr's theory, you have no business holding a position on TEW or any other aspect of this issue.

#23
ttn

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But your idea of "work" is advocating conventional QM, which is acausal and purports to link events "instantaneously" across, potentially, millions of light years via "quantum entanglement"?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


One other question about this. It's true that in Bohmian Mechanics (which as I explained is what I actually advocate) particles that are "potentially millions of light years" away from each other can be "linked", i.e., can affect each other. Of course ultimately this is a question for experiment. It is impossible to speculate about what limits in terms of distance or propagation speed might exist for these effects. Maybe, for example, the effects aren't "instantaneous" but "only" a billion times faster than light, and maybe they can only extend across a distance of 100,000 light years, not a million. All that experiments done so far tell us is that there is some kind of nonlocal causality involved that involves propagation of at least several times the speed of light and can extend over at least several kilometers. But anyway it is true that Bohm's theory contains an instantaneous action at a distance between particles.

My question is: what precisely do you object to here? I'm guessing you wouldn't want to say that you would have rejected Newtonian gravitation had you been alive 300 years ago. Yet that theory also asserts instantaneous action at a distance between particles. So what's the difference exactly? Why the contempt for the former while the latter is properly held up as a shining example of rational physics?

Of course, Newton himself didn't believe in literal action at a distance, and subsequent history has shown that one can understand Newton's law as simply the limit of a field theory with a finite propagation speed. So the real question is: what in the world makes you think the same won't be possible for the analogous laws in Bohm's theory?

#24
AisA

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  But anyway it is true that Bohm's theory contains an instantaneous action at a distance between particles.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Doesn't an instantaneous action at a distance require an infinite speed?
Michael Smith

#25
ttn

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Doesn't an instantaneous action at a distance require an infinite speed?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


If something propagates from one particle to the other, yes. But I think you missed the main point. You should take the instantaneousness of the action at a distance in Bohm's theory exactly as seriously as you (would have) take(n) the instantaneousness of the action at a distance in Newton's gravity law. That is to say: you shouldn't take it seriously at all. Rather, you should take it as an approximation which can easily be modified in the future when there are some empirical grounds for believing in a particular speed. That's what I was getting at before when I asked if anyone would seriously think it rational to have rejected Newton's whole theory of gravitation on the grounds that, according to Newton's equation, the action at a distance was instantaneous.

But there's also an even mainer main point. Bohm's theory has nothing to do with whether or not TEW is a viable theory. Even if one (erroneously) believes on some (rationalistic) philosophical grounds that Bohm's theory is irredeemably flawed, it remains a fact that no local theory can account for the results of certain experiments. That's what Bell proved. Superluminal causation is a fact of nature. Lewis Little's claims to have refuted this are not just wrong, but foolish -- and so it does real harm to the Objectivist cause when people proselytize, in public and qua Objectivists, for TEW.


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