Physics and Metaphysics.
Daniel J. Castellano opens his paper Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, this way: “Quantum mechanics, to put it gently, is not the most philosophically lucid theory in physics.”
As we pointed out in Part 1 of this post, it carries within it a number of contradictions, at least contradictions of two of the accepted principles of traditional philosophy as we know it. Castellano sees these as, “a commonsensical binary notion of existence and a mechanistic notion of causality,” that is, that a thing cannot at the same time exist and not exist, and that an event that occurs as a direct result of a particular action was probably caused by that action and not by some other occurrence, both of which principles break down in quantum mechanics.
Castellano goes on to point out that Quantum Mechanics is itself a mathematicized theory of physics, based almost completely on linear algebra, itself based on familiar, Aristotelian principles of logic, including non-contradiction and the law of the excluded middle, both of which it goes on to contradict in its accepted expression. In addition, the idea that nothing in quantum physics is real unless it is observed and that nothing can exist unless except in probabilistic terms is almost a mirror of the (usually misinterpreted) understanding of the writings of Bishop Berkeley that nothing is real except in our perception of it. Again from Castellano, “What is really going on in nature when we are not looking? To suppose that such a question has a definite answer entails a belief in objective reality, that is, a reality outside of the thinking, perceiving subject. If we ask in what sense anything may exist or be when we are not looking, we are making an ontological inquiry, for we are not considering the attributes of this or that entity, but of the act or reality of being as such. When we ask broad questions about the reality of wavefunctions, which characterize every type of physical entity, we are really asking questions of ontology.” The fundamental difference here from quantum mechanics, is that in that world nothing is going on when we are not looking.
So, let us assume for a moment that the first basis for quantum mechanics, as stated in part 1, that:
1.”Everything is made up of things that sometimes behave as if they were particles and sometimes behave as if they were waves, and you can never tell, only speculate, using the laws of probability, which it will be.”
cannot be true, since the actual explanation of it, in its details , so to speak, is self-contradictory and cannot be accepted. What then are the alternatives, if any?
Here are two:
2. Everything is made up of particles, only sometimes we perceive it as if it were made up of waves.
I’m not sure anyone totally subscribes to view number 2. It might be a subset of the QM folks, but let’s take a look. It appears that some of the authors of quantum mechanics, in its Copenhagen Interpretation found that a property they labeled the “wavefunction” was a mathematical term necessary to explain some behaviors of particles and quanta, particularly their behavior in modern iterations of Young’s Experiment. But there is some disagreement whether the wavefunction is real or just a mathematical term. Some physicists believe that the double slit experiment proves that particles can exhibit wave behavior while others believe this manifestation to be illusory and that the particle remains a discrete object. In both cases however, the reality of “particles” remains unquestioned. The debate goes on.
3. Everything is made up of waves, only sometimes we perceive it as if it were made up of particles.
Alternative 3 is my favored view, as my blog posts and book make clear, I hope. I consider myself a realist and an empiricist in matters of science and scientific theory. But in matters of how we can know and understand the world around us, I am convinced, with Bishop Berkeley, that everything that we can know is, in fact, only in our heads. But I also believe that there is an objective reality and any suggestion that the world outside of our heads is all an illusion is ridiculous sophistry. Berkeley is often, and usually, I think, misinterpreted. He did not say, for instance, that if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there, it does not make a sound. His treatise is titled,” A Treatise on the Limits of Human Knowledge,” not on the issue of what might be real or not. We know that a tree falling in a forest generates a compression wave in the atmosphere that is conducted through that atmosphere, and if a person is within perceptual distance of that wave’s generation, that pressure wave will cause a sensation in a person’s hearing apparatus that he or she will interpret as a sound. Both reality and perception are served, within the attenuation range of that wave. Any other interpretation is nothing more than a word game, like Zeno’s Paradox and similar exercises. What quantum mechanics appears to be, with its clear separation from reality, is a similar word game but in the language of mathematics.
As John R. Platt said in 1964, “… you can catch phenomena in a logical box or in a mathematical box. The logical box is coarse but strong. The mathematical box is fine-grained but flimsy. The mathematical box is a beautiful way of wrapping up a problem, but it will not hold the phenomena unless they have been caught in a logical box to begin with.” Our logical box requires that reality be served. The world exists. Its constituent parts must therefore also exist.
Alternative 3 does just that. It does not serve up logical paradoxes. It does not, as far as we can see, ask us to accept contradictions of logic. What it does do, in its assumption of a space filled with an electromagnetic medium, is to fulfill the need for a medium for the transmission of electromagnetic radiation, including light. That medium’s fundamental structure can be seen as the basis for the speed limit that controls the transmission of light and other radiation. Alternative 3 says that the physical structures and other phenomena that we perceive and interact with are simply manifestations of both highly organized and sometimes less organized perturbations in that medium, and these are the forms and phenomena we detect and, within the perceptual range of our visual spectrum, actually see. This whole concept is consistent with reality. In sum, everything starts with electromagnetic waves, and, an electromagnetic wave is, in fact, a perturbation of physical space, a space that is coexistent with and filled with, a resident electromagnetic field, the electromagnetic ether.
The things that we cannot see but can still detect by other means include, in our near “zone of middle dimensions,” phenomena such as the atmosphere, energy in the form of heat, magnetic fields. And those big things out there that we can only perceive at a great distance, those stars, planets, galaxies; the fields that generate the phenomena our lovers of mystery call dark energy and dark matter, can also be seen as distortions in the field of the ether, ‘the cosmos’. Dark matter, for instance, appears to have all the characteristics of local magnetic fields, and these are easily demonstrated on a tabletop in the way they affect other nearby objects. In this model, dark energy is simply the electromagnetic field that fills the entire cosmos, residing inside and outside of everything else. The parts we see as objects, large and small, are themselves organized electromagnetic perturbations and/or distortions of that vast field.
More detailed investigation is, of course, absolutely necessary, including what this notion might mean for the explanations of forces, like strong, weak, electromagnetism, and gravity; how it might explain the structure of the elements; other “objects” in nature, like, for example, stars; how it might explain the origins and evolution of the universe. Is there room for other theories than “the big bang,” for instance, itself an assault on our concept of reality, if , as many cosmologists now insist, it is a case of “something from nothing” ? And if, instead of being the result of the mother of all explosions, the universe started small and grew slowly, what are the mechanisms that led to the mostly coherent universe we now inhabit? Could something like the workings of cellular automata be involved, processes that can generate great complexity from simple rules? Could stability at various levels be the result of phase transitions or similar organizing principals? What might be the rules that would govern such a universe?
This universe, from its tiniest elements to its most massive, could then be seen as made up of another kind of entanglement than those of the QM proponents, entanglements made up entirely of energy.
Much of this is hinted at in my book, “the picnic at the edge of the universe” itself just a draft of some of these ideas. But extending them down to the same level that quantum mechanics tries to explain will be necessary, I’m convinced. But I’m also convinced that it can be done, and without resort to unreality. I have uncovered a lot of support for this view including historical and modern sources. In nearly all ways, it is far more logical to imagine waves to be able to masquerade as particles than the other way around, and, if this is true, all those pesky QM paradoxes might be magically (sorry for the non-reality terminology) disappeared, praise be.
Here are links to two papers by others that you may find have some interesting bearing on these subjects. The first is the paper referenced in Part 1, by lgsims96, on wave-particle duality.
The second, titled Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics is by Daniel J. Castellano.