The Great Quantum Cover-up
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:
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.
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.
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”.)
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
to point out how this confusion of identities is as much a factor today
as it was fifty years ago:
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
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?
dissolving wave-packet in Schrödinger's
theory can under no circumstances be regarded as an 'expanding
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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
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.
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.
The wave does
particle and thus it
over time. "I am
taking the view that the
reality of the particle's location is, indeed, its quantum state
"...the spread in momentum values, implies that a wave packet
spread with time. The more
localized in position that it is to start with, the more quickly it will
The wave provides a complete determination (certainty) of the
particles motion. And its
motion is equivalent to "the evolution of Ψ in time."
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
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:
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
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:
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
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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
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."
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
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
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).
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")!
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
have given us material probabilities, instantaneous quantum jumps,
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
in the same world where Einstein clearly showed gravity to be an
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’.”
that Penrose thought that
“the problems within quantum theory itself are of a fundamental
"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
of course, Einstein's main criticism was that quantum theory was
incomplete and uncertain, not nature:
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
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
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
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.