Quantum Theory: A Microscope or a Toolbox?

Criticism of Quantum Theory

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THE CAT AND THE EEL:
Le Chat et L'anguille
Die Katze und der Aal
El Gato y la Anguilla
De Kat en de Paling
      
The greatest unsolved mystery - the coldest case!


[Source: cat - www.icebengals.com, eel - www.aloha.org]

Is Quantum Physics a Microscope or a Toolbox?
What secrets did the Dungeon hold?

Is there a Da Vinci Codeof Physics

To answer, you need a deerstalker hat, a spyglass, and a sensayuma

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THE-FOUNDATION-IS-THE-FRONTIER SERIES
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Essays on:
Physics in the Twenty-first Century

Read the Series Introduction

by

Bibhas De

Copyright 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 by Bibhas R. De

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Inspector Gregory: "Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"

Holmes: "To the curious incident of the Night Train to Quantumland."

"The Night Train did nothing un-quantum in Quantumland."

"That was the curious incident", remarked Sherlock Holmes.

Paraphrased from The Adventure of Silver Blaze by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


WELCOME!


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The graphics do not belong to this site. They are displayed, with thanks, by calls to their original sites. The sources of these graphics used in this Home Page and its supporting pages can be seen by right-clicking on the pictures, and then clicking on "Properties"

WATCHMAKER, TELL US A STORY

The watchmaker has a vast arsenal of miniature tools, magnifying glasses, lamps, vises etc – a veritable micro-workshop. Here, he can assemble or repair any watch. The efficacy and the usefulness of his work are never in question.

You and I cannot very well discern with our naked eyes the details of the movement mechanism. Gears next to gears; gears underneath gears; small screws and smaller screws; tiny springs only partly visible; light shining and obscuring our view. Our Watchmaker can – with his toolbox. But whoever looks at the movement in whatever way, one thing is certain: There is absolutely no distinction between how gears and springs and screws work in a large machine, and in the microworld of the watch.

    

The storytelling Watchmaker, and his mystery world

Suppose one day our Watchmaker of the Swiss village takes a flight of fancy – Walter Mitty-like. He begins to claim that what he sees through the lens is actually a different world, with the gears and the spring behaving very differently than in large machines. He may even go a step further and hint at a tiny being doing strange things inside the movement mechanism – a being over which we have no control. The Deus ex Machina! The little devil just sits there and plays dice. Eventually, the Watchmaker begins to hint at an entire new mysterious world.

And so in time he becomes the village storyteller. His reputation spreads far and wide. People come to get their watch fixed, and say: “Watchmaker, Tell us a story”. He tells his story A. Villagers stop on their way home from the marketplace: “Watchmaker, Tell us a story”. He tells a different story B, which intersects the story A. Children stop on their way home from school. “Watchmaker, Tell us a story”. He tells a third story C which intersects both A and B. When all these people later exchange tales, they find out that everything fits together. Consistency. Elegance. Symmetry.

The Watchmaker also weaves into his stories hard facts related to his tools and techniques, and thus makes his stories believable on technical grounds! But when people ask Is this all really true?, he does not answer one way or the other, but leaves them uncertain. Sometimes he looks skyward.

Before long, the Watchmaker changes the name of his shop to The Mystic Watchmaker. He also begins to write books on the theme "Zen and the Art of Watch-repairing". One of his titles is "And He also gambles". Fame and fortune follow.

And there we leave the Watchmaker, for now. But the morale we carry with us. Know the distinction between two things: A miniature toolbox which is a technology that lets you do things in the miniature world; and a microscope which may on occasion show you strange things you think you had not seen before. The clear distinction between doing and seeing, when seeing can also be imagining.

Do you believe these strange things are true because they are made into tales that are consistent and highly ramified and long-traditioned, and interwoven with hard facts?

Whatever your answer is, never stop admiring the clever construction: Plies of wispy nothings, then fiberglass, then occasionally a steel ply – all this repeated.

AT THE DAWN OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Since the advent of Max Plank’s quanta, Quantum Physics has today completed more than a century. Its demonstrated success as a technique is evident. The purpose of this page is not to demean this science in its entirety, but to ask questions that are not asked in polite company:

- What is it actually?

- Is it a profound physical insight into a quirky Mother Nature at the smallest of size scales, or is it an excellent physics toolbox to work on nature at its miniature?

- Does the Small World really behave differently from the gross world?

      

A microscope or a toolbox?

So therefore we make the distinction between two aspects of Quantum Physics: Quantum Mechanics, the miniature toolbox; and Quantum Theory, the supposed insight into a new world – a Small World - with a different set of rules from the world we know. Let us note also in this context that the success of techniques does not necessarily imply success of theory.

THE EDIFICE

First, let us recall some of the basic considerations that led to the development of Quantum Physics:

- Planck’s Blackbody Radiation Spectrum (Energy Quantization)
- Einstein’s Photoelectric Effect (Light Quantization)
- De Broglie Matter Wave (Wave-particle Dualism)
- Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle (Indeterminacy, Probability)
- Schroedinger, Dirac, Bohr… (Wave Function; Orbit Quantization; Spin Quantization…)

All these, and later the world of subatomic particles, were seen as inexplicable within the framework of physics then known (and so labeled "Classical Physics"). Hence the development of Quantum Theory.

Since then, Quantum Physics has expanded phenomenally. It is today a huge edifice: Just go to any university library, and you will find shelves upon shelves of monographs. Open any physics journal, and it is right there. Submit a paper dealing with small-scale physics in terms of classical theory, it will bounce right back because you are doing outdated physics. We are now into sons and grandsons of the original Quantum Theory, with impressive subjects like Quantum Chromodynamics. And the mathematics thereof is something fierce! Great discoveries have been recorded, lofty fame has been made, sainthood has been conferred. In terms of the power it wields, Quantum Theory is today the Pentagon, if Washington DC were the world of physics. It is a formidable place that you dare not criticize. If you do, they will throw so much mathematical mumbo jumbo at you that you will forget your mother’s maiden name by the time they are done with you. You may also get names like Spinoza and Russell (Bertrand, that is) thrown at you in the bargain. It is more likely though that they will pay you no mind. If you somehow force the issue, great defenses will be mobilized. You will be branded a crank, crackpot, psycho, loco, a few sandwiches short of a picnic, etc. And if you are impervious to these, they have the ultimate weapon for you: Solitary Confinement. So I issue here my standard warning to the would-be critics: Be afraid! Very afraid!

They will also say that you have not understood anything, that you do not know whereof you speak. To this I say: Sometimes it is a good thing to not understand too much. Recall the old story about this man trying to figure out why his music system does not work. He gets out his toolbox, circuit diagrams etc. Then someone says: Have you checked if it is plugged in? Here we have such a situation.

If you choose not to be afraid and want to explore the edifice, my advice to you: Do not be awed by these huge tomes and the fantastic development and the fruit salad on the chest of the generals of Quantum Theory (As you will see later, this military metaphor is theirs, not mine). Think of other deeply entrenched, greatly ramified edifices – some of which are easy to remember by letter schemes: CCCP, Crooked E, PANAM,….etc.

So look past the grandeur of Quantum Theory. Look at the origins. Look at the beginning. Look at the foundation. Go down to the dingy basement of the edifice, and poke around in the cobwebbed dungeon. Do not go up to the ritzy 18th floor, where a big bash is in progress, and the band is playing their song.

For it is in the dungeon that they are hiding something – the key to the undoing of the entire edifice. What are they hiding there? Is it some huge toothy-smelly-hairy mystery beast they have kept chained, or is it something more sinister?

WHAT IS A SMALL WORLD?

The Quantum World is the world of small things. If you listen closely, you will find that when the experts speak or write professionally, they are careful about the demarcation of this Small World. Among themselves, they like to keep things fuzzy. But the public is always told that they are working on a mysterious Small World that behaves differently from our familiar world. The implication being, quite obviously, that they are possessed of Higher Insight. Glory be!

Let us mortals press our impolite questions though.

First, what is the Small World in this context? It is clear that smallness here must be an absolute definition, independent of human perception. What is small to a man may not be small to a bacterium. A huge carbon atom complex is small to a man, but not necessarily to the smallest bacterium. And physics cannot depend on whether it is being formulated by humans or by bacteria.

And indeed, the smallness in Quantum Theory has been provided as an absolute definition. It has its origins in the physical constant h, known as the Planck’s Constant. It first made its appearance when Plank calculated the Blackbody Radiation Spectrum (for which a classical theory had already existed.) The classical theory assumed that the molecular resonators in a blackbody emit radiation continuously as they are energized. Planck assumed instead that the resonators emit radiation in integral multiples of a base amount of energy ε. He then argued from experimental observations that ε must be proportional to the frequency ν of radiation, and therefore he wrote ε = h ν, h being the constant of proportionality.

With this, Quantum Theory was said to be born. (For our purposes, that is. I am not striving at historical accuracy here.)

So, we must focus on this h – a fundamental constant in physics. In importance, it belongs right up there with the Gravitational Constant. By comparing the theory with experimental results, h turned out to be a very small number. And this word "small" here would blossom in time into the same word in the "Small World" of Quantum Theory.

Planck’s h also contained the notion of discreteness. It next popped up in the discovery of the photon by Albert Einstein. A photon, or a discrete particle of light, turned out to have the energy ε = h ν. This highlighted the concept of discreteness in nature.

But nothing can be seen thus far for us to say that we have found new rules of physics. What is the difference after all between continuum and discreteness? Your greengrocer may choose to sell carrots loose or by the bag. For this, we do not consider the grocer to be a mystic. Nature may choose to portion out energy in continuum or in discrete amounts. We can incorporate this into classical physics, without make a big deal of this. And the smallness of h is just the smallness of the energy ε – that is all the significance there is to this smallness: There are in this world things that are big, and things that are small.

OBSERVATION A: Neither the Planck quanta nor Einstein’s photon required the formulation of a Small World. They could readily be handled within Classical Physics.

The first significant development, forming perhaps the most compelling argument for Quantum Theory (referred to as Wave Mechanics in the early days), is the discovery of wave-particle dualism. This concept is embodied in a concise form in the concept of matter wave, presented by Louis-Victor de Broglie. The concept states that a point mass such as an electron can at times behave as a disembodied wave. The de Broglie wavelength λ is the wavelength of this wave:

The second development was Werner Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. This is where, to my thinking, the real essence of Quantum Theory is contained. For a simple description of this principle, consider a particle of mass m and velocity v, located at a position x at any given instant of time t. You wish to observe (determine) x and v simultaneously at that instant of time. Obviously, you will have to allow for a margin of errors due to imperfectness of your technique of observation – what we generally call the error bars. Suppose you allow error margins of Δx and Δv, and try to make them as small as possible. What Heisenberg proposed is that:

Here the h with bar across the top is simply h divided by 2π.

In other words, even if your measurement technique were absolutely perfect, you could not do better than the above restriction. Furthermore, Δx and Δv are not independent. There is always a tradeoff in the obtainable accuracy of the two. If h defines the smallness and discreteness of the quantum world, this tradeoff defines the essence of this world.

And with Heisenberg, we were also introduced to a new concept of physics, previously a loose word in common usage to obfuscate things: Probability. Heisenberg’s result showed that you could say with certainty that the particle is somewhere between x – Δx/2 and x + Δx/2. But where it is exactly between these two points, you could only say with some probability. The same goes for the velocity. So for example, you could assign a probability P(x1) of finding the particle at x1 between the above two points, and likewise P(v1). And thus, one began to a have a quantitative handle on this blurry Small World.

OBSERVATION B: The Wave-Particle Dualism and the Uncertainty Principle are what stood as the justification for developing the idea of a separate Small World.

Even the last diehard now had to admit that we are into a new realm of physics.

ALBERT EINSTEIN IN MILITARY METAPHOR:
A CAVALRY GENERAL IN A MODERN BATTLEFIELD

But Albert Einstein did not!

Even though the work of Einstein represents a starting point of Quantum Theory, he himself never took very well to this newfangled science. He liked predictability and certainty in the way nature works. For his view, he was later derided. It was said that he was like a very able medieval cavalry general who found himself in a modern battlefield. Basically, this is a polite way of saying that he was an old fogy unable to reconcile with the advent of modern thinking. This is something of a-later-mind-is-greater-mind theory in the scientific endeavor.

Old fogies being recalcitrant is one thing. Old fogies applying their scientific intuition, after full and proper consideration, is another thing. Which one was it?

Today we have the happening example of String Theory. Some take to it, some don’t. Do you think those who do not take to it can be dismissed as old fogies being recalcitrant?

But there is a hidden agenda behind making Einstein’s "incorrect" old-fashioned view something of a scientific legend, with a tinge of humor even. This story is a warning: Even Einstein couldn’t get it. So don’t anybody dare question our Enterprise.

We revive Einstein’s reservation now that we have seen a hundred years’ worth of development of the Quantum Theory.

TWO WORLDS

So, physics-wise, what is the proposed inherent difference between the large-scale world and the Small World?

There are many ways to answer this question. We will choose to do everything here in the simplest possible way (The basement, remember?). We answer the question in terms of the concept of probability in physics: The likelihood of a certain outcome, given a set of circumstances. The probability description can be applied to the quantum world as well as to the large-scale world (e.g., Statistical Mechanics). The proposed difference is this: In the large-scale world, probabilistic description is a handy substitute for detailed knowledge. If you had every necessary bit of information, and if you had the ability to compute, you could say with certainty that tomorrow there will be 0.6 in of rainfall in your town. But since this is impractical, one instead uses the probability calculation: There is an 80% chance of rainfall tomorrow. This is how a non-scientific notion of probability has benefited science.

In the quantum world, however, it is a radically different use of the concept of probability. It is here a substitute for a true lack of knowledge. It is a substitute for what is not knowable exactly, what is beyond human ken. The exact position of an orbiting electron in an atom at an instant of time is not knowable – regardless of how much information you have. So it is describes in terms of smeared out probability curve – a wave description. With this description, you can proceed to make further calculations. This indeterminacy is the essence of the difference between the quantum world and the large-scale world.

If you keep this in mind and not be distracted by the huge mathematical apparatus that Quantum Mechanics is, we can conduct this discussed in a focused way.

OBSERVABLITY:
WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU DON’T GET

How exactly is the quantum world beyond human ken? This brings us to the question of observability of things.

The beginning physics student gains his first exposure to Quantum Theory through some very compelling reasoning. Let us take the following description from a standard beginner’s textbook Fundamentals of Physics by David Halliday and Robert Resnick:

….we can hope to "see" the electron only if we reflect light, or another particle, from it. In this case the recoil that the electron experiences when the light (photon) bounces from it completely alters the electron’s motion in a way that cannot be avoided or even corrected for. …If orbits such as those envisaged by Bohr existed, they would be broken up completely in our attempts to verify their existence. Under these circumstances, we prefer to say that it is the probability function, and not the orbits, that represent physical reality.

This logic, through the force of authoritative repetition over a century, has today become the ground truth of Quantum Theory.

And yet, this very starting point of Quantum Theory is fallacious. There are many ways to see this. First, suppose a committee has decided not to try to “see” the electron by bouncing off a photon or a particle. Does this mean the said electron is not being hit by such photons or particles anyway? Of course not. So why is the orbit not being "broken up completely" when the committee is not looking? Why is hydrogen atom stable in the solar atmosphere in its observed abundance, subject only to the classical ionization equilibrium? Whether it is photo-ionization or electron-collisional ionization, it requires a certain energy threshold of the impinging particle. Other than this, there is no evidence of the atoms being broken up. Plasma physicists calculate electron trajectories in circumstances where there may be intense photon fields. Why is not the electron motion there being altered "in a way that cannot be avoided or even corrected for", making it pointless to make these trajectory calculations?

The point is clear: The very fact that there is ionization means that orbiting electrons are being hit. The very fact that there is ionization equilibrium means that not all hits result in breaking up of the orbit. Therefore, the ground truth statement of Quantum Theory, if it is to be preserved at all, must be restated as follows:

Those photons and particles bouncing off of an orbiting electron that contain information about the orbit break up the orbit.

Written properly in this way, the ground truth statement is shown up to be plainly fallacious. And yet it has endured for a century. O how it has endured!

Basically, the fine purveyors of Quantum Theory are engaging in some sort of zen thing to promote their Enterprise. The business of disturbing a thing by observing it is neither a "Small World" concept nor a particularly specialized physics concept. It is in fact quite commonsensical. You do not squeeze an egg in its shell to observe if it is hard-boiled yet. You get close to a free-floating dandelion in an effort to try to smell it. But your breath causes it to move away. So you cannot smell a dandelion. Now the Quantum Theory lore would say that therefore its smell has no reality. And furthermore, if you do not try to smell the dandelion, then it will not drift away.

So far as we can tell today, it is a practical (technological) problem that we cannot observe an electron in an orbit. The Bohr Orbit has a radius of about 1 Ångstrom. So, to "photograph" the orbit with light, you must view this at a wavelength a hundred or a thousand times shorter than this (assuming that you could make the atom "pose" for this photograph). We do not have that technology, but physics does not forbid it (unless you loop back from Quantum Theory and say it is forbidden – a kind of tautology). Lacking such an experiment and its design, there is no way to predict that orbit will be broken up when we try to observe it.

It may be that the very fact that an electron is captivated in an orbit makes it easier in some sense to make observations than a free-flying electron. Suppose our dandelion is caught in a vortex and is "orbiting". You can now get close to it (the force of your breath being much weaker than the vortex), and smell it. If you are quicker than the vortex, you can smell it at any chosen location of the orbit.

So the truth of all this should be plain. The quantum “probability” is a convenient tool. This probability, like the probability in statistical mechanics, is a substitute for lack of detailed knowledge and the practical impossibility of acquiring this detailed knowledge. The difference between Quantum Theory and Statistical Mechanics is that the former deals with individual particles while the latter deals with ensembles. Thus the former deals mainly with wave functions while the latter deals mainly with distribution functions. The former reduces uncertainty in a single entity by smearing this single entity over space and time. The latter reduces uncertainty in a single entity by averaging over many entities in space and time. Whatever mystery about Mother Nature there is in Quantum Theory is also there in Statistical Mechanics. More correctly, there is no mystery in either case.

One way to look at what has been said is this: Quantum Mechanics is Statistical Mechanics of a single particle where statisticity is somehow created within that particle. This type of “faking” to get a handle on an otherwise intractable problem is quite common in physics.

OBSERVATION C: The ground truth of Quantum Theory that you disturb an object by observing it is nothing more than a commonsensical observation of the world around us. It has no special or different meaning signifying a Small World.

DUALISM AND UNCERTAINTY:
IS SHE A HE? IS SHE SMILING?

Next let us consider the grand mystery of the Uncertainty Principle.

Interesting in more ways than one!

Over the last century – and continuing to this day – there have been endless commentaries, expositions, interpretation, punditry, pontification etc et al on the Uncertainty Principle. There is probably more interpretation of this uncertainty than there is on the uncertainty in the smile of Mona Lisa. We will have occasion to return to Leonardo Da Vinci again.

To see this today, all you have to do is a Google search under "Uncertainty Principle." After you have read some of what turns up, you will develop the feeling: It’s jungle out there. I better not go there. Basically, there was a core issue which was relatively simple – but so much has been said on it in so many different ways that you can longer feel comfortable exploring the basic idea.

In order to get past this and give ourselves a reliable view of the current lore, let us go to a simplest, elementary exposition that no members of the scientific establishment will disagree with. We return to the book by Halliday and Resnick:

Planck’s constant h probably appears nowhere that has more deep-seated significance than in (the Uncertainty Principle). If this product had been zero instead of h, the classical ideas about particles and orbits would be correct; it would then be possible to measure both momentum and position with unlimited precision. The fact that h appears means that the classical ideas are wrong; the magnitude of h tells us under what circumstances these classical ideas must be replaced by quantum ideas.

…..

The uncertainty relation shows us why it is possible for both light and matter to have a dual, wave-particle, nature. It is because these two views, so obviously opposite to each other, can never be brought face to face in the same experimental situation. If we dream up an experiment that forces the electron to reveal its wave character strongly, its particle character will always be inherently fuzzy. If we change the experiment to bring out the particle character more strongly, the wave character necessarily becomes fuzzy. Matter and light are like coins that can be made to display either face at will but not both simultaneously.

This is a very clear, concise and undisputed enunciation of the basis of Quantum Theory – the official version.

As we shall see below, practically every statement made here may turn out to be wrong - or at least ad hoc.

IF YOU COME TO A FORK IN THE ROAD…..

Now consider this scenario: At the dawn of the twentieth century, we came to a point where the further development of physics may have needed completing the foundation of physics then existing. Had this been done, the mystification that led to Quantum Theory might not have arisen. But instead of pursuing this road leading to foundation development, tools were devised to bypass this development.

Consider a simple situation: Following de Broglie’s matter wave idea, the wave behavior of the electron was experimentally observed. The experiment was said to confirm the theory of wave-particle dualism. Here, dualism means that the electron sometimes acts as a point mass and sometimes as a wave. However, there is not always a one-to-one correspondence between a theory and an experimental result – even if the experiment was caused by that theory. There was a more natural way to proceed than to formulate this anotherworldly view of dualism. It was simply to ask: Is electron such a thing of classical physics that is a wave and a particle at the same time?

What is the distinction I am making here? Suppose there are magic glasses which let you see only particles or only waves. Now make a pair of spectacles such that the left lens sees only particles and the right lens sees only waves. Put this on. If you look at a moving Quantum Theory electron with these glasses, you will see either a particle or a wave. The other case is where you would see a juxtaposition of a wave and a particle – everywhere and always. It will do things that particles do (e.g. travel at any desired speed), and it will do things that waves do (e.g. diffract, interfere).

In the early days, this would have been considered a valid and natural distinction before one formulated Quantum Theory. There is no evidence that such a distinction was made. Today, because of the very fact of the extensive development of Quantum Theory, this distinction may appear strange. You were going to a shopping mall. You took a wrong turn and ended up in another shopping mall. So you say that everything is hunky-dory. We can shop here. You do not look back and worry about that missed turn and the missed destination.

Was there an easy-to-miss fork in the road?

So it could be that the road at the fork that was taken was a detour. The tools of Quantum Mechanics were undoubtedly an effective detour – and remain so to this day. The real development, completing the foundation, remains unaddressed to this day. We did not develop classical physics to understand the so-called Small World, but developed a miniature toolbox to work on it. No mean feat that, though. Our great Quantum Mechanicians are master technicians – there is no questioning that fact.

Thus the question: With Quantum Theory, are we looking here at a microscope or a toolbox?

There is an underlying, more subtle question: Why does this distinction matter at all?

It matters because if techniques are passing (or being passed off) as new science, we are living under a grand illusion. And it is not a good thing to live under a grand illusion for long periods of time.

Remember James Bond villain Dr. No? He was plotting world domination on a remote island, about which he created an aura of great mystery. At night, strange lights flickered, and stories of ghosts and evil spirits were spread. No one dared approach the island. Dr. No could do his stuff in peace.

ANIMAL METAPHOR:
THE UNCERTAIN CAT

Today Schrödinger’s cat is nearly as famous as the Cheshire cat. The former cat symbolizes the conundrum of Quantum Theory. I would like to describe this conundrum in someone else’s language. In his website, Paul Budnik describes the story of Schrödinger’s cat as follows:

In 1935 Schrödinger published an essay describing the conceptual problems in QM1. A brief paragraph in this essay described the cat paradox.

One can even set up quite ridiculous cases. A cat is penned up in a steel chamber, along with the following diabolical device (which must be secured against direct interference by the cat): in a Geiger counter there is a tiny bit of radioactive substance, so small that perhaps in the course of one hour one of the atoms decays, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none; if it happens, the counter tube discharges and through a relay releases a hammer which shatters a small flask of hydrocyanic acid. If one has left this entire system to itself for an hour, one would say that the cat still lives if meanwhile no atom has decayed. The first atomic decay would have poisoned it. The Psi function for the entire system would express this by having in it the living and the dead cat (pardon the expression) mixed or smeared out in equal parts.

It is typical of these cases that an indeterminacy originally restricted to the atomic domain becomes transformed into macroscopic indeterminacy, which can then be resolved by direct observation. That prevents us from so naively accepting as valid a "blurred model" for representing reality. In itself it would not embody anything unclear or contradictory. There is a difference between a shaky or out-of-focus photograph and a snapshot of clouds and fog banks.

We know that superposition of possible outcomes must exist simultaneously at a microscopic level because we can observe interference effects from these. We know (at least most of us know) that the cat in the box is dead, alive or dying and not in a smeared out state between the alternatives. When and how does the model of many microscopic possibilities resolve itself into a particular macroscopic state? When and how does the fog bank of microscopic possibilities transform itself to the blurred picture we have of a definite macroscopic state. That is the measurement problem and Schrödinger's cat is a simple and elegant explanations of that problem.

This whole business becomes quite clear when one comes to see that the probability of radioactive decay is a substitute for detailed knowledge (impossible to obtain due to practical reasons) that would let one say exactly if there will be decay in one hour. Give up the mystery of quantum probability, and you lose the Schrödinger cat conundrum.

More and more, it seems to me that quantum probability, indeterminacy, uncertainty etc are basically a clever manipulation of language to make you believe in something that is not there.

      
[Source: physicsweb.org, www.aloha.com]

The uncertain cat(s) and the certain eel(s)!

ANIMAL METAPHOR:
THE CERTAIN EEL

Let us recapitulate the main features of Quantum Theory:

- Quantization (Energy, orbit, spin etc) - Wave-Particle Dualism - Indeterminacy and Probability - Uncertainty Principle

As a cartoon-like thinking aid, consider: A swimming moray eel.

First, its "wavelength" is probably "quantized": It is able to shape itself like a half wavelength, one wavelength etc. Nothing profound here. Take this to the smaller world and you might find some bacteria or virus that do the same thing. (Remember that we know today that large carbon atom complexes display quantum behavior!)

Second, it can act like a particle (if it runs headlong into you) or a wave (if it slithers through your fingers when you thought you had a good hold of it). Wave-particle dualism.

Third, you are trying to scoop up the eel from the water with a small net, you find that you are simply chasing it all over – without any success. Indeterminacy and probability.

Fourth, you will by now know what size of a net you need to scoop the slithering eel out of water. A smaller net will not do. This is your Uncertainty Principle.

So, here in a completely classical and completely macroscopic situation, we have all the features of Quantum Theory! I am of course being facetious. But only partly. Think seriously about the eel – even in a zen way!.

It is important at this juncture to say that this opening of a reexamination of Quantum Theory is not without independent support – even from within the scientific establishment. According to the current Quantum Theory, in order to experimentally observe the behavior of wave-particle dualism, you have to go to a particle as small as the electron. But experiments today are showing that the quantum phenomenon is observable in increasingly larger entitites (such as large Carbon atom complex, many orders of magnitude larger than the electron! In no way do they belong to the quantum world. It may be that the shattering of the cozy world of Quantum Theory has already begun from within the scientific establishment.

But remember that you heard it from me first! My own issues questioning of Quantum Theory date back, I think, to about 1994 with my paper (published in 1996) showing that static magnetic field in empty space is a matterless mass, or even to 1992 with my electromagnetic papers.

ANIMAL METAPHOR:
IT’S THE CHESHIRE CAT!

Against this certain moray eel, we have Schrödinger’s uncertain cat. But now it seems to me that, if cat it must be, the more relevant cat to the discussion at hand is actually the Cheshire Cat!

How so? The Cheshire Cat, you will recall, was sitting on a ledge and conversing with Alice, smiling broadly. Then the cat disappeared, but his smile remained.

And this brings us the idea of a disembodied something: A matterless something, unlike anything we have seen in physics thus far. Such a thing would naturally bridge material particles and matterless waves, and would thus shed light on the connection between the assumed two worlds of physics. It would in fact eliminate the distinction between the two worlds in one fell swoop.

The cat is gone. The smile remains.
[Source: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/People/rgs/alice24a.gif]

This smile of the Cheshire Cat has the following equivalent in physics: The source-free static magnetic field structure proposed by me. Imagine a bar magnet with its invisible magnetic field structure around it. Then suddenly the bar is gone, but the field structure remains (It will assume a different geometric configuration). That is the Cheshire Cat of physics.

It was not my intention to excessively engage in animal metaphors. But I am not the one who began this, and I could not resist this.

AT THE DAWN OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

The source-free magnetic structure – seen as a photon at rest – is discrete, corpuscular. Seen as a particle, its position and momentum have some indeterminacy – you cannot simultaneously measure both with extreme precision; there has to be a tradeoff. This can be seen by setting up a classical physics thought experiment. Such a moving structure acts also as a wave, and could produce interference. The de Broglie wavelength is thus readily understood in classical physics. Its inverse dependence on velocity is also understood.

If shot through an energy barrier for which it does not have enough kinetic energy, the source-free structure could still cross the barrier perhaps through a momentary distortion/adjustment in its own shape, and/or the shape of the barrier.

The source-free magnetic structure, depending on various states (spin etc), could be either a photon or a particle. In other words, photons and particles all are various expressions of this structure. Since these structures can exist with all of the above properties at any size scale – be it the size of a quark or a moray eel - the identification of smallness as a cause of discreteness is opened to question. (It would also follow that all material particles are in the end just empty space. Thus, everything we are and we see is empty space. The whole universe is made of empty space.)

Thus many – if not yet all - of the "inexplicable" things that led to the development of Quantum Theory would have been seen quite differently had the source-free magnetic structure (along with the mass of magnetic field) been a part of the foundation of physics at the dawn of the twentieth century. And if further development stemmed from there, we would have taken another fork in the road. As it happens, the source-free magnetic structure was not derived until the close of the twentieth century, and was not allowed to see the light of day until the dawn of the twenty-first century.

OBSERVATION D: If source-free magnetic structures existed, wave-particle "dualism" would be a completely understandable classical phenomenon – and not a dualism at all.

Now, if you calculate the energy of a source-free magnetic structure travelling at the speed of light, you would obtain it in terms of the fundamental constant of electromagnetic theory (μ_o and ε_o). Although we have not established this yet, let us say that this energy could be expressed as the constant times the frequency ν. Equate this to h ν. Then you would see that h is not a fundamental constant at all, but is derived from electromagnetic theory. That would puncture the balloon of mystification of this wonderful fundamental constant h. Recall also that the speed of light c is also a function of (μ_o and ε_o).

OBSERVATION E: If source-free magnetic structures existed, it would be conceivable that Planck’s constant h is not a fundamental constant of physics after all. Therefore, there would be no intimation or demarcation of a separate Small World in h, by itself.

THE SECRETS OF THE DUNGEON:
THE PHANTOM MESSENGER

If you have chosen to defy the powers that be, then you have sneaked into the basement of the Quantum Edifice. As you explore the basement, you eventually discover the core of the innermost sanctum: The dungeon with a sign, in the language of some of the founders of Quantum Theory:

But you have come this far. Why stop now? You find a way to break in at the dead of night, when most crimes are committed. As you walk in, you find that it seems to be an antique physics laboratory – dusty, musty and grown with cobweb. On the workbench is a toy train on tracks that are marked as the x-axis. At the other end of the tracks, there is a device to point an intense light beam at the train as it approaches, rending the darkness in which the Night Train travels. This light makes it possible for us to "observe" the train.


[Source: www.warwickwoods.com, focus.aps.org]

The Night Train to Quantumland

And on an old style blackboard on the wall is written this with chalk:

Mein Gott im Himmel!

It goes on (I translate):

The train of mass m is allowed to reach a steady velocity v. Then we shut off the engine and bring it to a halt by applying light pressure to it. By measuring the distance it takes for the train to stop and the intensity of the light beam, we can calculate the kinetic energy E = m v**2/2.

To study the motion of the train, we collapse it to a point O at x, moving with the velocity v.

Now, assuming the light to be purely corpuscular, the minimum irreducible error in this measurement clearly the energy of one photon, h ν. So ΔE > h ν, or

m v Δv > h ν        (1)

Next, assuming the light to be purely a wave, we note that the minimum irreducible error in time is Δt = 1/(2πν). Hence the minimum irreducible error in the position of O is Δx = vΔt = v/(2πν). By combining the corpuscular description and the wave description, we obtain – from this grossly simple, even childish, physics experiment, a classical physics result – the exact same result as Werner’s Uncertainty Principle:

Nothing whatsoever was said about Louis-Victor’s matter wave!

Do not misunderstand this as an issue of whether Quantum Theory applies in principle to large objects. That is not at all the point here. The point is that a foundational tenet of Quantum Theory has been derived without any reference to the matter wave.

Now, it is easy to see that in response to the light pressure, the momentum of the train decreases with a wavelike, periodic curve. And the same is true for the point O. However, it is now clear that we cannot shrink the train to a point O: We can shrink it to no smaller than an irreducible length segment ΔvT, where T = 1/ν is the time period of the wave. Now, what is an irreducible length segment that has periodicity attached to it? It is of course a wavelength. There appears to be an inherent wavelike nature underlying the motion of the train.

Now, when we reduce the train to this length segment, we are at the limit of irreducibility. Therefore, in condition (1) above, we can replace the “greater than” sign by an equality sign. This gives us Δv. So the wavelength ΔvT is:

,

a result completely independently of Louis-Victor. Since the above result does not contain any property of the light beam, the result is in fact a property of the train – a train wave.

MIXED METAPHORS?

At this point, let us recapitulate the two completely independent sets of results:

In Quantum Theory, the Wave-Particle Dualism was derived on the basis that the photon has a momentum, and the Uncertainty Principle was derived from the Wave-Particle Dualism:

QUANTUM:
(de Broglie and Heisenberg)

    

In the classical theory, Uncertainty Principle derived on the basis that the photon has a momentum, and the Wave-Particle Dualism was derived from this Uncertainty Principle:

CLASSICAL:
(The Phantom of the Dungeon)

    

These are exactly the same results, with the terms meaning exactly the same things. Both show that the tradeoff between the errors in position and velocity. Yet, one is crystal clear classical high-school physics, and the other is said to be the mysterious Quantum Theory.

Just a little further thought makes things absolutely clear: Both derivations mix up wave behavior and particle behavior – although in different ways. This is the source of the tradeoff effect. If you kept the two behaviors completely separate, neither relation could be derived.

But to the extent that there is a tradeoff effect, it is completely classical.

The Uncertainty Principle thus appears to be nothing but a common house sparrow painted to look like a mysterious exotic bird from the Amazons, being sold entirely legally to the unsuspecting - under the exotic name of Gorrión común.

As strange as it may sound, de Broglie did not actually derive anything. He simply likened a material particle to photon. From this analogy, by equating the photon momentum to a particle momentum, he obtained the "matter wavelength" λ (Its value has been verified experimentally). Nothing here says why a material particle is a wave. Heisenberg simply started from this work, and derived the Uncertainty Principle, based on the matter wave. So we can say that Heisenberg did not derive anything new either.

If you try to pin down a speeding electron by means of an increasingly tiny slot, at some point it wriggles out of the slot as a matter wave. The size of the slot at this point is roughly the uncertainty in the position of the electron. But there is no such uncertainty in the wave that the electron has become. Whether or not the electron position is uncertain is entirely irrelevant. It is the wave that is now relevant. So, if you use only a particle description up to the slit, you are fine. If you use only a wave description after the slit, you are fine. If you mix them up, you get quantum uncertainty.

You can develop probability functions to handle the matter wave. But that is a tool, a technique. You can assign a wave behavior to the flow of traffic. You can describe the orbit of a particle spiraling in magnetic field by an imaginary guiding center, and forget about the particle altogether. Do not mistake these cutesy artifices for deep scientific insight into a mysterious world.

OBSERVATION F: The Uncertainty Principle can be completely understood as a classical phenomenon.

Nature has many wondrous mysteries. But a better place to read about them than the Physical Review Journal is National Geographic. In physics, there are only unsolved problems. There will always be. The attempts to push the frontiers of physics where they would merge with the territories of Mount Olympus are interesting, but not relevant. There is not, in this merged territory, a separate God of Small Things.

COUNT DRACULA’S NIGHT OUT

By day, Count Dracula is a cadaver in a coffin ("at rest"). By night, he is either a walking human or a flying vampire bat. But he is never both.

If you are the Vampire Slayer, then you surveil either the man or the bat, as the case may be. This is simple, straightforward.

But if you start making theories about where the man is when you are following the bat and vice versa, you have enough material here to do some good zen (What does a one-handed clap sound like?). This is needless mystification, as far as the surveillance is concerned.

     
[Source: www.uky.edu, www.cameron-stewart.com, www.pomegranatearts.com]

Bat-Man Dualism
Bat <-> Batman <-> Man
Classical <-> Quantum <-> Classical
Put this in your pipe and smoke for a while!

Or if you fix your eyes on the transition state where may be the head and the wings of the bat are there but the rest is human, you can do some really weird things with that. You can even put on a Freakshow.

OBSERVATION G: If you mix up different concepts, you can naturally get results like the Uncertainty Principle, which can then be mystified.

THE CLOCKMAKER’S TALE

The Watchmaker’s elder brother the Clockmaker lives in the mountains, near a round lake. He repairs large Grandfather clocks. He deals with nothing smaller than a push pin. His toolbox is pretty much like the Home Depot toolbox you and I have.

It turns out that storytelling runs in the family. But the Clockmaker does not like Busman’s Holiday. He tells stories about the mountains, the lake, birds and so on. Here is one of his tales, with some interpretation added.

A diving bird – on his huge wing-spread swoops down on the ocean. Directly he breaks the surface, he shapes himself like an arrowhead and continues his motion – efficiently. For our analogy, we turn this sight of common experience around: The arrowhead (electron) shoots up towards the surface, and as soon as it breaks the surface, spreads huge wings (wave). Now you can do a calculation and derive an uncertainty principle for the position of the arrowhead!


[Source: www.alaska.net, www.union.ic.ac.uk]

Fly-Dive Dualism

The round lake is teeming with fish. Our bird is fishing there. He moves in circles around the center of the lake – this being the most efficient thing to do. But he moves so fast that we can no longer see him distinctly – we only see him as a blur. So we set up a grid on the lake, and construct a wave function to replace the bird. By now, we have established the rules that this wave function must obey (properties of the lake and the bird), and we can construct it. Where the wave function has an upward peak, we can tell that the bird is likely flying there. Downward peak means he is likely there underwater. A valley means he is unlikely to be there. More conclusions follow about the concentration of fish in the water.

For aerodynamic and physiological reasons, there is a minimum radius a of the circle a flying bird can make. So the circumference of this circle is S = 2 π a. Once our bird is making this circle, the next bird would want to fish as far away from him as possible, and therefore will be near the shore. A third bird would position himself about midway. Thus, there is a discreteness to the radii. The overall wave function would look like concentric circles of ridges and ravines.

The case of electrons in orbit around a nucleus is somewhat similar at a gross level. But there you relate S to different considerations: S is related to the matter wavelength λ= h/mv. So a will now be the radius of the Bohr Orbit. This is the smallest orbit an electron can assume, given its wavelength corresponding to its orbital velocity. Similar considerations would determine the other orbits – all classical physics considerations. There is no intimation of a Small World here, just a logical substitution of circumstances and addition of details, from the case at the round lake. The behavior of electrons in atomic orbits do not defy physics commonsense, or even just plain commonsense.

So where do you get all this grandiloquent mystery that the physics establishment and the media has relentlessly croaked into your ears for a hundred years?

If an electron is wave or particle sequentially, as the present theory holds, the examples of Count Dracula and the diving bird apply.

If the electron is a particle and a wave at the same time and always, as I suggest, then the situation is completely classical physics. The same laws of physics apply at all scales.

OBSERVATION H: The atomic orbits do not bring intimations of a Small World that operates according to different rules of physics than our world.

A BRIEF RETURN TO THE DUNGEON

I forgot to mention that there was more in the dungeon. On another cobwebbed blackboard, there was this:

There is only one way out of this dilemma, and it hinges on the only physical constant h in Louis-Victor’s and Werner’s principles. And the roots of h are the photon and the quanta. Therefore, keep the concept of photon as obfuscated as possible. This is our only hope to keep our story alive. Never encourage any work on the nature of the photon, and especially any work directed at giving the photon any specific description. As long as we can maintain this cover, namely the fuzziness of photon, our story is safe. Great fame and showy laurels await you.

I recommend that you seal this room and never speak about this. Use Albert’s opposition to Quantum Theory frequently to show would-be critics what laughing stocks they can be if they question us

There the writing ends. The signature below the writing has been obliterated by some water leak from the roof at some point in the middle of the last century. But with some difficulty you can barely make this out:

Der Uhrmacher

OBSERVATION I: At the very core, it has been vitally essential to keep the concept of photon obfuscated in order to preserve the edifice of Quantum Theory.

PRIORY OF SION,
MEET THE PRIORY OF THE DUNGEON

The photon is not only the starting point of Quantum Theory; it is also the pivotal point round which this entire stage turns. So the history of development of the concept of photon is in fact a history of checks and balances on Quantum Theory.

But there is no history of development of the concept of photon! It simply does not exist. The photon started out as the most ill-defined notion of physics, and it remains exactly the same to this day. While there has been a fantastic explosion in particle theory research, and in fact in every other area of physics, practically no investigation has taken place in mainstream physics to further explore the unexplored concept of photon. Have you ever wondered about this uniquely strange aspect of physics?

The reason is not scientific. Elsewhere, I have discussed the Photon Mystique – a mystique that has been carefully cultivated and guarded for a century. You see, keeping the definition of photon fuzzy is absolutely essential to preserving the edifice of Quantum Theory. This is why, when people tried to suggest for example that photon has a finite mass, they never got any hearing. Anything done to give specificity to the concept of photon is treated in this way. One could make a case that this is the mother of all scientific conspiracies. Not in the sense of conspiracy that we are familiar with. But almost a telepathic, tacit understanding among the interested parties: A deep-cover covenant that runs down the generations. They did not organize themselves into a secret society called Priory of the Dungeon. They do not discuss this with one another. They are not even conscious of this. It just happens this way – like some psychological science fiction thriller. Keeping the photon inside an enigma wrapped in mystery surrounded by obfuscation is the key to great careers, reputations, accolades, laurels, places in history etc. The culmination of all this is a godlike stature. Can there be a greater stake? Even the theme of world domination in James Bond thrillers pales in comparison.

The Piltdown Man hoax of science lasted some forty years

The agenda thus is to keep alive the cleverest and the most imaginative scientific story mankind has ever heard. Piltdown Man would pale in comparison.

OBSERVATION J: History bears evidence that the concept of photon is the one concept of physics that has been uniquely kept obfuscated ever since its inception, unlike any other foundational concept in physics.

In the fiction Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, there is a secret society called the Priory of Sion, which is trying to guard a thread that has run through history and is alive to this day:

The bloodline of Christ!

But the Priory of Sion itself is not fictional – it is actual, and has been composed of eminent people throughout the ages. Among them: Sir Isaac Newton.

Returning to the Quantum society today, is it not interesting to note that there is with us this very day a person who has been described as the successor to Sir Isaac?

So, is there at work in the deepest of the deep background of physics today a powerbroker called Der Priory des Kerkers, or the supersecret Priory of the Dungeon? Are they assuring the survival of the Edifice, and the bestowing of sainthood (not the kind given out from the Vatican, but from another European capital) on members of the Edifice even as the miracles they have wrought increasingly come into question from the hoi polloi? Think about this legacy of the Watchmaker in the light of recent events.

THE SUM OF SMALL TRUTHS

All that remains for us to do is to bring together in one place all the Observations interspersed in the above discussion, and consider their collective message:

Neither the Planck quanta nor Einstein’s photon required the formulation of a Small World. They could readily be handled within Classical Physics. The Wave-Particle Dualism and the Uncertainty Principle are what stood as the justification for developing the idea of a separate Small World.

The ground truth of Quantum Theory that you disturb an object by observing it is nothing more than a commonsensical observation of the world around us. It has no special or different meaning signifying a Small World.

If source-free magnetic structures existed, wave-particle dualism would be a completely classical phenomenon. It source-free magnetic structures existed, it would be conceivable that Planck’s constant h is not a fundamental constant of physics after all. Therefore, there would be no intimation of a separate Small World in h, by itself.

The Uncertainty Principle can be completely understood as a classical phenomenon. If you mix up different concepts, you can naturally get strange results like the Uncertainty Principle, which can then be mystified.

The atomic orbits do not bring intimations of a Small World that operates according to different rules of physics than our world.

At the very core, it has been vitally essential to keep the concept of photon obfuscated in order to preserve the edifice of Quantum Theory. History bears evidence that the concept of photon is the one concept of physics that has been carefully kept obfuscated ever since its inception, unlike any other foundational concept in physics.

QUANTUM THEORY:
A MYSTERY SPOT ON MOUNT OLYMPUS?

Near Santa Cruz, California, there is a place called the Mystery Spot. There is a small area that has been fenced off. In this little world, which I shall call the Small Area, different laws of physics than known to us are said to apply. As I recall, this place sits on a wooded hill slope. It is said that, early on, people came to notice that there was something very mysterious about this particular geographic spot. That is how the project began. You enter this Small Area after paying a hefty entrance fee, and witness the marvels. One demonstration I recall is this: A smooth steel ball is placed on a smooth inclined plane, and the ball rolls uphill! Here’s another: You stand facing your wife who is shorter than you. But here, to look into her eyes, you have to look up! There are many such demonstrations you can see in the Small Area.

Mystery Spot, Santa Cruz, California

In the last analysis, the Small Area and the Small World are not so different after all. The main difference lies in how well camouflaged the enterprise is. Many can see through what is going on in Santa Cruz. Very few can see what is going on on Mount Olympus – and those that can have a vested interest in preserving and protecting that which is going on. The Small Area is a money-making enterprise, with some "educational" value perhaps. The Small World hides the Fountain of Immortality, guarded by fearsome beings.

Priests and pastors and rabbis and imams and lamas are regarded by us as residing in spheres higher than us. They reside at levels close to their respective Mount Olympus. It is as though they are possessed of some greater, nobler knowledge not available to us. We laity grant them this status willingly and reverently, without invoking logic or reason.

Physicists have observed this phenomenon, and have sought the same status for themselves - by creating their own mystique of this "greater, nobler knowledge": First the Quantum Theory, and as its effect on the society began to wear out, the booster shot of String Theory. Always hold a grand mystique over the head of the laity – that’s the ticket. By this method, they seek to position themselves not only above us laity, but also above the sister scientific disciplines. It is that old quest for spiritual superiority, and through that: Immortality.

In the affairs of man as they are unfolding today, if I were to be pressed to assign godly status to some individuals, I would think neither of physicists nor of holy men. I would think of surgeons who successfully separate Siamese twins joined at the head or medical researchers who find cure for dread diseases. I would gladly genuflect before them. But they are too busy to seek the godly status for themselves. Only the physicists and holy men are jockeying for that position.

Look at the poor folks in Chemistry! No grandiose mystique surrounds them. All they do is come up with things that benefit the society. Have you seen the physicists do anything so mundane in the recent years?

Is it any wonder then that any "higher" physics discussion very quickly ends up somehow or other drawing God’s name into the bargain?

EPILOGUE
TIME: YEAR 2201
PLACE: A PHYSICS CLASSROOM

By the physics landmark year 2005 the quantum physicists, using their microscope, completed the so-called Particle Zoo, describing the ultimate (smallest) constituent of the universe. They did so in a theory they called “Exponential Ecstasy”. Some confusion ensued there as physicists began getting phone calls from unidentified callers at home late at night. The callers inquired if "the product" could be grown in a certain South American country. But the DEA stepped in and set things right.

Oddly though, if you asked the physicists the first and most obvious question “What is the ultimate particle made of?”, they looked at you as though you were the stupidest person in the whole of the Galaxy’s Spiral Arm. (They don’t know the answer.) However, they had much greater, and visible, success using the toolbox.

By the year 2005 quantum physicists developed Time Machines and Teleporters - which were combined into a single machine called The Timeporter. This ingenious combination had the ability to dispatch a package to a future date on the Earth, as well as in a Parallel Universe. But because of opposition from animal rights and human rights groups, the Federal Future Administration (FFA) had forbidden trafficking in living subjects. So, tiny lifelike probes had been developed that can go to the future and send back signals. Since superluminal speeds are not allowed by 2005, the signals arrive from future through some type of warphole.

The very first full-blown trial of the Timeporter was conducted on this occasion we now describe. A cyberprobe called “The Fly” was dispatched to a future physics classroom on the Earth. The Fly sat on the wall of the classroom, and sent both audio and video signals. The eager physicists watched from the Command and Control Center in CalTechno, hoping to hear affirmation of the great achievements in physics during their own epoch. A special section in the audience was set aside for the living Quantum Nobel Laureates. To remember the dead Laureates, a riderless horse was parked outside. The Media was present in great strength. Televisions carried the event live throughtout the world - an event anticipated as a million times more fascinating than the Moon Landing. The tension was palpable. Presently, the wall-to-wall screen of the Command Center flickered to life, and the following snippet of the classroom was displayed:

Professor:
Now Class, it is most instructive to study an historical episode of physics called Quantum Theory. It flourished during the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries, and died down in the latter part of the twenty-first century. It was aimed at eliciting the ultimate nature of matter. But the physicists always avoided the question: What exactly is matter? Basically, the studies we do today in our cybersimulators were then done using certain handy-dandy mathematical techniques, which proved to be useful in some ways. However, a clever coterie of physicists started to put around these techniques the character of fascinating new physics of which they were the great discoverers. Great heroes were made, great tomes were written, great laurels were bestowed, and great resources were consumed. Some of them really believed all this, but the leaders of the movement knew full well what they were doing. It is like taking a toolbox to a new land where people have never seen a toolbox, and wow them by calling it your magic fix-all chest. You see, in that time period, the public were much like the people of this new land.

Student 1:
But surely all the information existed then to figure out the straightforward fact that the ultimate constituent of all matter and all energy is magnetic field?

Professor:
Indeed this could be already understood in that epoch had these people not been so committed to their storyline. And what a storyline it was! They developed incredibly elaborate theories about the structure of matter without ever understanding what matter is.

Student 2:
But based on the knowledge that existed then, some physicists had to catch on that this storyline was misguided. Why wasn't there a counterculture movement - so to speak?

Professor:
Because nobody was allowed to speak up. If anybody did, he would be ignored, berated or denied a platform. Believe it or not, physics was then conducted much like politics. They used to have a wonderful institution called the Nobel Prize, which achieved high distinction by being awarded to great physicists. But during this period, the Prize became politicized and was used to promote this storyline. So people gradually lost interet in the Prize, and it died a natural death.

Student 3:
That sounds an awful lot like a dark age that has been passed off as an age of great enlightenment.

Student 4:
Sort of – an ersatz science in an ersatz age!

[ROFL]

Professor:
That is exactly why it is instructive to study this period. Today it sounds incredible that something like this can happen on such a scale over such a long time period - but it did then.

Student 1:
Can you name some of the main actors of Quantum Theory?

Professor:
Certainly. To begin with, there was...

Suddenly, the screen went dead. "Technical difficulties with the Time Hold Module", said the Flight Director.

Later that day the National Timeflight Command (which has overall jurisdiction over the Timeporter)and the FFA put out a Joint Bulletin saying that the experiment had been sabotaged. The signals received had not in fact come from the future, but from a garage in California where the classroom was staged. After meeting with a great many physicists, the NTC formed a “pretty good idea as to who the prankster is”, the Bulletin said. An arrest was imminent.

On hearing this on the TV, "the suspect" took a peek into his garage. There was his trusty, old, beat up Toyota Camry - cobwebbed because it had not been driven in a while. He became satisfied that he could prove in a court of law that nothing had been staged here - that the signals had in fact come from the future. There were strewn over the rest of this DIY man's garage floor remnants of various packages and the brownish plastic bags from Home Depot. He looked around, and then spotted his red toolbox: "Ahhh, there's the answer!"

THE END

.

Suggested further reading: The Photon Mystique

.

Also: The Priory of the Dungeon

.

Also: The Ultimate Hocus-pocus Man

.

A SPECIAL EXHIBIT ON WHAT IS GOING ON WITH PHYSICS TODAY

.

FIVE WHO CAME TO PHYSICS...


Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann
WHAT THEY DID: Got a carried away with a fantastic discovery that turned out to be wrong
WHAT WAS DONE TO THEM: Their lives were destroyed
WHO DID THIS: The physics establishment
WHAT THE WORLD MEDIA DID: Intensely ridiculed the two
WHAT THEIR EMPLOYERS DID: Abandoned them

        
Victor Ninov and Jan Hendrik Schoen
WHAT THEY DID: Cooked data
WHAT WAS DONE TO THEM: Their lives were destroyed
WHO DID THIS: The physics establishment
WHAT THE WORLD MEDIA DID: Tore the two up like a hungry wolf-pack
WHAT THEIR EMPLOYERS DID: Terminated them


John C. Mather
WHAT HE DID: Spinned a miserably failed satellite experiment as the most precision measurement in the history of physics
WHAT WAS DONE TO HIM: See above
WHO DID THIS: The physics establishment
WHAT THE WORLD MEDIA DID: Danced with him on their shoulder
WHAT HIS EMPLOYER DID: Appointed him America's top space scientist

***

Bob Dylan asks:

When you gonna wake up ...?

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