The Great Quantum Cover-up

Chapter 3




It would seem that we must come to terms with this picture of a particle which can be spread out over large regions of space, and is likely to remain spread out until the next position measurement is carried out. (Roger Penrose)                                                


The crux of the problem:

The quantum theory was born when Plank and Einstein came to realize that the exchange of energy from one form to another [i.e., transduction] was not a completely smooth process.”  (D.K.C. Mac Donald, Near Zero, pp71. Emphasis added)

It is here, at the point where energy is transformed—i.e., a measurement or observation —where the greatest secrets of nature lie in wait. For it is where ‘particles’ are borne; where quality truly becomes quantity. And this point of transition, at the threshold of our separate realities where observation/measurement first appears in nature, is itself not observable! Which is why you never hear about it.

We know that science is reluctantly willing to admit that unobserved matter in the form of waves and fields must spread out in space.  Furthermore, we know that these waves propagate in multi-dimensional spaces.  And all aspects of the quantum world are measurable only when the wave equation is augmented with "radial extensions", "perterbative expansions", "spatial extensions" or "renormalized dimensions"; i.e., some multidimensional additive.  And according to Eddington they should "make the fundamental [wave] equation a quadratic."  Pauli thought so also, "on the basis of the relativity theory, which demands that all descriptions of particles be in terms of four coordinates, or four degrees of freedom, not three."1

But as a whole, the actual reality of these waves is still very much in question--unjustifiably so, according to de Broglie:

Because it is difficult to define the physical nature of the wave associated with the particle, many theoretical physicists are inclined, enticed perhaps by the tendency toward abstract thinking, to regard these waves only as a mathematical concept.  To me personally this appears somewhat exaggerated. The 'psi-oscillation', the existence of which so clearly results from the observable phenomena, must have a more concrete and real meaning than is assumed by many today.  Certainly it would be too naive if one should imagine the electromagnetic and guiding waves of the particles to expand in an elastic substance like a material medium.

(Actually, to say that material expansion is "naive" is to say that it is natural.  For that's what naive means.  Although, de Broglie certainly means “simple”.)

However, in the meantime it complies with scientific realism to assume that they are a type of oscillation of still unknown nature, which expands with a finite speed through space.2

And to point out how this confusion of identities is as much a factor today as it was fifty years ago:

It is hard to believe that the electron is physically smeared out across its realm of positional possibilities, because every time we measure it we never see a smeared electron, always a point particle.  In each atom, however, something seems smeared out to fill the atom, an indescribable something we call the probability cloud...without really being very sure what we're talking about.  Whatever it is, though, the whole world is made of it... [and]... Whatever the actual nature of the Ψ wave for an individual system, it is evidently something solid enough to sit on.3

If these waves are solid enough to sit on and the whole world is made of them and their physical existence “clearly results from the observable phenomena”, then why are they so emphatically denied?

...a dissolving wave-packet in Schrödinger's theory can under no circumstances be regarded as an 'expanding electron'.4

This author, who obviously knows the "implications", reasons that "the diffraction wave of a single electron would have to be distributed over several points."  And since experiments show that the electron's charge is indivisible, then how could it so divide?

But he is already assuming that the electron is a "point". And the electron's charge hasn't divided, it's simply expanded, along with all other forces, charges, spaces and other atomic entities; in fact the entire universe has expanded into a new order!  And consequently, “nothing in our experience would change.”  So this is no more of an argument than to say that “every time we measure [observe] it we never see a smeared out electron, always a point particle.”  But "if the eye that sees changes just like what it sees, then how can it see the change?" We can't observe it because all material entities are four-dimensional, including our eyes.  We can't even directly "observe" a garden growing much less our four-dimensional existence.  It also must be implied or deduced. 

These are not arguments so much as excuses to evade the inevitable.  So as Penrose points out in his statement at the head of this chapter, it's time we come to terms with this expanding four dimensional behavior that will not simply go away by burying it in covert mathematical abstractions that belie mortal understanding.  And as simple or "naive" as it may seem, what precedence is there to suggest that atomic processes must be so complex?  Why would nature clothe her secrets in complexity when simplicity so easily confounds us?

There are a few scientists that do accept the reality of the psi wave, though always with certain reservations.  Obviously, one of these is Roger Penrose who points out yet another reason for considering it.

I have been taking the view that the 'objectively real' state of an individual particle is indeed described by the wave function ψ.  It seems that many people find this a difficult position to adhere to in a serious way.  One reason for this appears to be that it involves our regarding individual particles being spread out spatially, rather than always being concentrated at single points.

(Remember that the point—or singularity—was arbitrarily invoked so that the its surrounding field will not become infinite, thus producing an unworkable and nonsensical answer.)

Rather than thinking of the particle itself being spread out over space, people prefer to think of its position just being 'completely uncertain'...  However, we have seen that the wave function does not merely provide a probability distribution for different positions; it provides an amplitude distribution for different positions.  If we know this amplitude distribution (i.e. the function ψ), then we know—from Schrödinger's equation—the precise way in which the state of the particle will evolve from moment to moment. We need this ‘spread-out’ view of the particle in order that its 'motion' (i.e. the evolution of ψ in time) be so determined; and if we do adopt this view, we see that the particle's motion is indeed precisely determined.6

This has profound consequences indeed.  For what Penrose is leading up to is the fact that the whole concept of uncertainty and probability is involved only in the observation and/or measurement and thus the interpretation thereof!  He uses the symbol U to represent the "unitary evolution" of the unobserved wave function, and the symbol R to represent the collapse, or "state-vector reduction"; something that happens only when "we 'make a measurement', magnifying quantum effects to the classical level."

It is the procedure R, and only R, [the measurement, thus the collapse] that introduces uncertainties and probabilities in quantum theory...     Whether we regard R as simply a change in the 'knowledge' available about a system, or whether we take it (as I do) to be something 'real', we are indeed provided with two completely different mathematical ways in which the state-vector of a physical system is described as changing with time.  For U is totally deterministic, whereas R is a probabilistic law; U maintains quantum complex [imaginary] super-position, but R grossly violates it; U acts in a continuous way, but R is blatantly discontinuous.  According to the standard procedures of quantum mechanics there is no implication that there be any way to 'deduce' R as a complicated instance of U.  It is simply a different procedure from U, providing the other 'half' of the interpretation of the quantum formalism.  All the non-determinism of the theory comes from R and not from U.

What are we to make of all this enlightening information?  Penrose is one of the giants of the scientific establishment; one of the most respected theoreticians in all of physics, and a prolific contributor to gravitational theory.  Yet here he is, stripping away all the carefully laid disguises that have been so painstakingly created by so many of his antecedents. We need to summarize and amplify what's just been said.

1.  The wave does describe the particle and thus it does spread-out over time.  "I am taking the view that the physical reality of the particle's location is, indeed, its quantum state Ψ."   And "...the spread in momentum values, implies that a wave packet will spread with time.  The more localized in position that it is to start with, the more quickly it will spread."

2.  The wave provides a complete determination (certainty) of the particles motion. And its motion is equivalent to "the evolution of Ψ in time."

3.  In fact, there is no indeterminacy (uncertainty) at all in the world until a measurement/observation takes place, which magnifies the quantum to the classical or perceivable level. Penrose believes the assumption "that the uncertainty is a property of the particle itself, and its motion has an inherent randomness about it" is "certainly wrong."

4.  The collapse of the wave function (the "reduction" itself) cannot be logically assumed to follow the "unitary evolution". It is simply and completely an interpretation of what goes on in the mathematical process R. But there is more:

I have made no bones of the fact that I believe that the resolution of the puzzles of quantum theory must lie in our finding an improved theory.

Penrose is unhappy with the haphazard way that the U process suddenly becomes the R process without any defined transition. We magically go from classical rules to quantum rules [from "unbridled expansion" to instantaneous collapse] just by making an observation. "Somewhere in between, I would maintain, we need to understand the new law, in order to see how the quantum world merges with the classical."  And the road to this understanding will be through gravitation:

My view, therefore, is that even the marvelously precise theory of quantum mechanics will have to be changed, and that powerful hints as to the nature of this change will have to come from Einstein's general relativity.7

What a coincidence. Penrose believes that quantum gravity will eventually explain the U/R relationship. And if I am understanding him correctly, this relationship underlies practically the whole dualistic, mind-body, thought-extension dilemma. If we could understand the relationship between these two seemingly opposite and contradictory processes--nature becoming and nature appearing--we could at last be able to SEE. 

Said another way, it is only when nature is caught-in-the-act of becoming itself, that it displays its finite disguise. And by this I mean that what we observe and measure is at all times, nature in disguise.  "...an atomic electron has two guises.  When it exists in one guise the other becomes a disguise."8  The secret underlying this disguise--the relationship between becoming itself and presenting itself to itself:  its appearance!—is nothing less than the secret of gravitation. And once the idea of this collapse is surrendered, the secret itself is torn asunder.

Scientists have found it almost as difficult to accept the collapse as they have the spreading-out nature of all atomic entities.  In fact one cannot be considered unless the other is first considered. For the collapse is meaningless without the expansion. And if a scientist does accept that atomic particles expand in size, then they are forced into accepting the collapse. How could one assume otherwise—unless of course nature is, in fact, infinite?

J. von Neumann, in his famous Mathematical Foundations of Quantum theory, took much pains to study this phenomena. His conclusions may serve as the ultimate example of the difference between a description and the power of an explanation.

What he discovered was that the act of coupling the electron appropriately to the measuring device can indeed cause a collapse in the part of the wave function pertaining to our description of the electron, but that the wave function representing the system as a whole does not collapse. The conclusion of this analysis is known as "the measurement problem.”9

And this analysis, from what has been called the Copenhagen "Bible", is what led so many physicists to sustain the belief that the wave-world just doesn't exist.  For if the collapse doesn't exist, then surely spreading particles and atoms couldn't either, since everything in our world is made of these things.  But the term stayed and became part of the accepted terminology. And so did "the measurement problem."

This collapse is not found in the mathematical description, called the Schrödinger equation, that provides the time evolution of the wave.  The collapse is a consequence of adding an interpretation to the physics after the fact.  And the major reason this must be done is that no one quite knows what to do with the quantum wave function—the wave of all possibilities.  Is it real or is it just a fantasy...10

It is one of the great ironies of nature and perhaps the very essence of the cosmic joke itself, that quantum theory has had practically all its successes precisely because it has not included gravity in its computations. It cannot, because, as we've shown earlier, the gravity of general relativity with its continuum is incompatible with the discontinuities of quantum theory. All attempts to quanticize gravity with "gravitons" produce infinities ad infinitum!  These gravitons must work on each other through the mediation of "virtual gravitons".  And then "we must suppose that each particle of matter is surrounded by an infinitely complex web of graviton loops.  Every level of looping adds a new infinity to the calculation."11

In other words, renormalization (the "parlor trick" detested by Pauli, Dirac, and so many others), subtracting a fictional infinity from a real infinity, can only be justified once. And then just barely. But with gravitons, it must be done infinitely (Infinity2).

Now the irony is that science has not come to terms with the fact that gravity is not a force, but an effect.  The very existence of the particle is gravitation; is the fourth dimension; is the wave function. Thus infinity compounds itself when forced upon itself.  The particle needs no external mediating force because it contains its own force to exist: its cause comes from within itself ("Natures source of movement is always from within itself")!

So the differences between the U (unitary evolution) and the R (observation--vector reduction) procedures are that U is an explanation and R is a description; U contains a force while R contains a reaction; U is the wave-world of causes and R is the particle world of effects; U represents becoming and R represents being; U is a continuum and R is discontinuous; U contains incredible possibilities whereas R contains impossible probabilities, and thus U is our four dimensional reality while R is our three dimensional appearance.  And in between these two processes lies transduction, the change in form (and thus the dimensions) that energy takes when an observation or measurement ensues. Whenever we attempt to catch nature in-the-act, we see effects, not causes. The cause is four-dimensional motion, which cannot be observed or measured absolutely.  Ever.

Matter is an admixture of mass-energy and the enormous speed of light squared; two only vaguely understood ideas that consist entirely of motion and its resistance.  And atomic electrons move in speeds measured as percentages of light speed.  In view of this, and in view of all the foregoing (plus the fact that science is totally unable to prove it), how can we insist that matter and thus all material objects remain precisely and absolutely the same continuous size?  And especially so when their existence is defined by motion in a world that is admittedly four-dimensional?  Science cannot even explain material existence in three dimensions—without atomic growth! 

Perhaps once it's realized that objects don't cause their own internal dynamics but exist  because of them ("form follows function"), then it may finally dawn on someone that atomic growth, or mass-energy acceleration, is the source of matter, space and time. That it’s the engine driving the entire cosmos and that it's part of the cosmic energy that binds our universe simply because of the frictional effects of electromagnetism it would produce.  Indeed, our world may be more plausible with this implausible idea than without it.

It is only in Schrödinger's standing-wave idea—where the particle is a consequence of the wave, like a musical note is a consequence of the complex harmonics surrounding it—where any type of consistent explanation endures.  And this is where the discontinuity is explained as an effect of the continuous waves.  It is not considered simply—and only—because of its incredulity and the implications of our actual infinity.     

But how long is science going to be allowed to do this?  All down the line it has replaced an incredible situation with impossible situations by promoting the idea that “the ambiguities are in the nature of things”; that “you shouldn't strive for clarity—that's naïve”, and that mathematical "muddle is sophisticated".12

They have given us material probabilities, instantaneous quantum jumps, inherent uncertainty, mutually exclusive relationships (complimentarity), superposition (infinite, omni-directional motions--exactly what an spreading particle would produce!), virtual particles (particles that defy the conservation laws of mass-energy, because the uncertainty principle "allows" them to), gravitons (particles of force, in the same world where Einstein clearly showed gravity to be an effect), spin 1/2 (where a particle must turn 720o to complete one revolution!) and lastly and least likely, the collapse of matter upon observation.  And these impossible situations exist because “under no circumstances” can a wave-packet “be regarded as an ‘expanding electron’.”

Recall that Penrose thought  that “the problems within quantum theory itself are of a fundamental character.”  A "fundamental" flaw is a much-repeated phrase uttered by many detractors these days.  Even Born, though long blinded by the light of his own success, eventually confessed that “somewhere in our doctrine is hidden a concept, unjustified by experience, which we must eliminate to open up the road...”13  And of course, Einstein's main criticism was that quantum theory was incomplete and uncertain, not nature:

The fact that in science we have to be content with an incomplete picture of the physical universe is not due to the nature on the universe itself but rather to us.14

Quantum theory, like the entire structure of modern science, has been so successful precisely because it is incomplete.  It's the crowning intellectual achievement of the genus, artificial man.  And it is no coincidence that this is precisely because artificial man is incomplete.  It is the vigorous promotion of this incomplete information in the guise of philosophical truth that has caused so much of our combined insanity: 

Knowledge is chimera, for beyond it ever lies other knowledge, and the incompleteness of what is known renders the knowing false.”15


1. Boorse, Motz and Weaver, The Atomic Scientists.
2. Louis de Broglie, quoted in Physics For The Modern Mind, by Walter Fuchs, pp 163. MacMillan
3. Nick Herbert, Quantum Reality, pp 124.
4. Walter R. Fuchs, (see no. 2 above) Also, from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, "It must be emphasized that the electron itself in not to be regarded as spread out in a cloud" (Vol 2: pp339). And of course there is no explanation of why this is so other than the currently accepted probability interpretation.
5. P.W. Bridgman, quoted in Larsen's The Case Against The Nuclear Atom.
6. Roger Penrose, The Emporer's New Mind, Oxford University Press, pp 252.
7. Ibid, pp 349.
8. Fred Alan Wolf, Parallel Universes, pp 65.
9. Paul Davies, The Cosmic Blueprint, pp 169.
10. Fred Allan Wolfe, Ibid, pp 55-59.
11. Heinz Pagals, Cosmic Code 
12. John Bell, Scientific American, May 1988. John Bell has become famous for his theorem denouncing absolute local causation. In other words, information is somehow able to travel around the universe faster than light. In the same article, Bell points out how the "brilliant proof of Von Newman", in which the statistical interpretations of quantum mechanics were suppose to be secured forever, "falls apart in your hands. There is nothing to it. It's not just flawed, it's silly." (see above, no. 9)
13. Max Born, as quoted in The World Of Physics, by Jefferson Hane Weaver, Volume II, pp 378.
14. Albert Einstein, quoted in Paradise Mislaid, by E.J. Applewhite, pp 173. This idea is amplified by Dewey Larsen in his book, The Case Against The Nuclear Atom: "Uncertainty is not a property of the physical atom or the physical electron; it is a property of the Copenhagen atom-model. Heisenberg is uncertain, but this is no proof, or even a good indication, that nature is uncertain" (pp 89).
15. Stephen R. Donaldson, White Gold Wielder, pp 100.