I blame Democritus. How could a Greek thinker from more than 2500 years ago be responsible for today’s problems, you may ask.? Well, he made up the idea that the world is made of some combination, aggregation, congealing of a bunch of hard shiny little pieces, much like the grains of sand on a beach, but much smaller, and that these “particles” were the smallest and hardest of all entities, even though they were too small to see. Now tell me, “How many other 2500 year old ideas do you believe?” Well, religion, maybe. But I’ll bet you that more people believe in particles than believe in any religion.
To be fair to Democritus, He did not describe everything as made up of particles. Light, to my knowledge, is not even mentioned in works and ideas attributed to him. Light was described as an essence, as a projection from the eye to illuminate the world, as many other things. Others weighed in, however. Empedocles (c. 490–430 BC) was the first to propose a theory of light[ and claimed that light has a finite speed. He maintained that light was something in motion, and therefore must take some time to travel. Aristotle argued, to the contrary, that “light is due to the presence of something, but it is not a movement”.
Light didn’t come to be called particulate until later and then only loosely, by Robert Hooke. In his 1665 work Micrographia (“Observation IX”). Hooke (1635-1703) developed a “pulse theory” and compared the spreading of light to that of waves in water Hooke suggested that light’s vibrations could be perpendicular to the direction of propagation. Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695) worked out a mathematical wave theory of light in 1678, and published it in his Treatise on light in 1690. He proposed that light was emitted in all directions as a series of waves in a medium called the Luminiferous ether. As waves are not affected by gravity, it was assumed that they slowed down upon entering a denser medium. (Reference: Wikipedia 5 January 2019). Isaac Newton, who really gave us the most of what we know about light, seemed to be of two minds about its character. His suggestion was “corpuscles.”
It was only a hundred years or so ago that somehow everything, including light, became particulate, and that was through the back door, by Einstein, no less.
In 1901, Max Planck used quanta to mean “quanta of matter and electricity”, gas, and heat. In 1905, in response to Planck’s work and the experimental work of Lenard (who explained his results by using the term quanta of electricity), Albert Einstein suggested that radiation existed in spatially localized packets which he called “quanta of light” (“Lichtquanta”)(W).In later writing he coined the word “photon” to refer to these “light quanta.” So, the makeup of light went from being an essence to a collection of “particles.”
Unfortunately, in observing the behavior of light at all visible scales, it seemed that Huygens had it all over Einstein. Light still, stubbornly, behaved as if it were made up of waves. Until you wanted it to behave like particles. Thus grew a new interpretation. Light had two characters., sometimes wave-like, sometimes particle-like. And a new word entered the modern physics lexicon, “duality.” And this has been debated to this day.
But, if you’ll pardon the expression, there may be light at the end of the tunnel.
As some of you know, I have my own ideas about how the universe devolved and how it is made up today. And that model fits right into this discussion. But before get going into that, there’s an intermediate step. The world of particle physics and quantum mechanics, today’s “standard model,” accepts wave-particle duality as a given. The behavior of some entities can seem wave-like, but as soon as they are observed they turn into particles. And this is not claimed as a theory of perception or observation. It is accepted as a real-time event, and even has a name, “wave-function collapse.” I must, however, insist that no one has actually seen this happen. It’s just that at one instance, it’s this and then it’s that. But some serious thinkers have begun to try a new approach. In the 1920’s Einstein himself suggested that matter might be considered as something like “condensations in the ether,” referring to his own statement that there must be something called an ether making up the substance of the universe. Now some are characterizing particles as concentrations of energy, not as Democritus’ hard primal substances.. And some have posed critical questions, as, “How might a wave be mistaken for a particle?” First, let us remember that the word “wave” describes a behavior, not an object. A wave must be a wave of something, of energy, of water. It is not something in and of itself that can be separated from its medium, so we must always accept, assume, or postulate a medium. (Light, for instance, is an electromagnetic (EM) substance.) A particle, on the other hand, is something, sand, dust, air, or the like.
Time for some definitions.(from lgsims96)
Attributes of particles
A particle has mass, it is localized in space. Two or more particles cannot occupy the same space at the same time. A particle can have any relative velocity from 0 to almost c (the speed of light).
Attributes of waves
An electromagnetic (EM) wave has no mass. It is not localized; it spreads out over a large volume of space. Many waves can occupy the same space at the same time. These waves have only one relative velocity c. They have attributes of wavelength, frequency, intensity and amplitude of the disturbance (electric charge).
lgsims96, a HubPages blogger, wrote these attributes in his 2013 post titled Wave-particle duality, here, https://hubpages.com/education/Wave-Particle-Duality, in which he explains how wave can be mistaken for particles and vice-versa. In it he assumes that particles, in accordance with current theory, carry with them an electromagnetic field that interacts with all the other particles’ fields that it encounters. But he introduces his ideas this way:
“Waves can exhibit particle-like characteristics and particles can exhibit wave-like characteristics. Is it possible that waves alone could behave as particles? What if the universe is composed of a single medium capable of supporting vibrations? And if all that we perceive as matter and energy is only vibrations (electromagnetic waves) within this medium? This is all there is and nothing else.
“Years ago the ether was proposed as a medium to support the movement of electromagnetic waves through empty space. After all you can not have water waves if you have no water to support the waves. You can not have sound waves without air or some other medium to support the wave.
“One major objection to the idea of the ether is that it would cause resistance to the movement of matter through the medium. That objection disappears if matter itself is only a vibration in the medium. Thus, without the medium there is no light, there is no matter. It might be this medium is solid. It certainly must have a high rigidity to transport light waves at such a high velocity.”
Some of you will recognize elements of my own theories here. The universe is made up of one field, not billions of them as posited in the standard model. The anomalies we see are not the separate ones of each individual entity, but these entities themselves are organized coherent distortions of the one field and these high energy distortions carry with them the unique characteristics we apprehend. To see it in another way. all that we know as reality, objects, events, phenomena, consist of defects in an elastic medium, the cosmos. There is no duality. There is, rather, a profound singularity. What we imagine as particles are complex, organized, coherent distortions of that medium. Everything is made of waves, but waves of something.