Quantum Physics

OVERVIEWS OF RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN PHYSICS

I have selected the following items to provide the reader with insights into the state of basic physics as it attempts to make progress beyond what quantum mechanics was able to achieve by the 1970s. and

  1. Highlights of Anomalous Discoveries and Interpretation in Quantum Mechanics (QM)
  2. Highlights of Peter Woit’s review of Baggott’s new book, Farewell to Reality [About failures of String & M-Theories] (My review of Baggot’s book.
  3. My Amazon review of Baggott’s book , Farewell to Reality
  4. Some Blog Postings on the State of QM Research and Interpretation:

See 1, 2, and 3 below

1. Highlights of Anomalous Discoveries and Interpretation in Quantum Mechanics

Based primarily on information in books by Laszlo, McTaggart, Hawking and Kaku, I summarize five major anomalous discoveries or puzzles in Frontiers of Knowledge that are still challenging quantum physicists to interpret and relate it to our observations of the earth and the universe. Three of these are given below;

  1. Quanta [subatomic particles] are not in just one place but in a sense distributed everywhere in space and time. Their basic nature is probabilistic.
  2. Quanta are highly sociable: once they are in the same state they remain linked no matter how far they travel from each other (physicists call this “nonlocality” and “entanglement”). In one sense, information is exchanged “faster than the speed of light.”
  3. How to interpret the experimental data and theoretical concepts.

Because of its basic probabilistic nature, quantum physicists are still struggling to fully understand quantum physics relates to our everyday world. One interpretation that appears to be gaining acceptance is Frank Everett’s “Many Worlds” (or parallel universes) interpretation of quantum physic’s basic wavefunction equation. Under the “Many Worlds” interpretation, the quantum wavefunction equation is not collapsed by an observer (the “old” interpretation) but “branches” off into parallel universes. Now when an observer makes an observation or measurement, one state of the quantum is realized by the observer in his “universe”. But the wave function’s energy present in the alternative states is not lost; it continues in parallel universes [with parallel observers]. In a later chapter of Frontiers, I compare this interpretation with information provided by some spiritual sources that support the parallel universe interpretation.

The strange quality of “entanglement” (the second puzzle presented above) points to a mysterious interconnection between quantum particles that are joined together (correlated) in some way. The nonlocality, or entangled, behavior was initially conceptualized in a thought experiment by Einstein and colleagues as an inherent aspect of quantum theory. It is known as the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen (EPR) Paradox that Einstein labeled “spooky”. Nonlocality though has been proven in real physical experiments, and is now accepted as a fundamental truth.

Key Scientific References Used for Quantum Physics in Frontiers

Ervin Laszlo, Science and the Akashic Field: An Integral Theory of Everything (Inner Traditions, 2004, Second Edition 2007).

Lynne McTaggart, The Field: the Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe (Harper Perennial, 2002).

Michio Kaku, Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos (Anchor Books, 2005).

Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design (Bantam Books, 2010).

Steven Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory: The Scientist’s Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature (First Vintage Books, 1992).


 2. Highlights of Peter Woit’s review of Jim Baggott’s new book Farewell to Reality

[Click here for Woit’s Blog]

Woit writes that Baggot’s book “is divided into roughly two halves: with the first half a well-executed overview of the current state of our theories about fundamental physics, from quantum theory through the standard model and cosmology. It ends with a description of the outstanding problems left unsolved by our best theories, and a good summary of the current situation:”

Several centuries of enormously successful physical science have given us a version of reality unsurpassed in the entire history of intellectual endeavor. With a very few exceptions, it explains every observation we have ever made and every experiment we have ever devised.

But the few exceptions happen to be very big ones. And there’s enough puzzle and mystery and more than enough of a sense of work in progress for us to be confident that this is not yet the final answer.

I think that’s extremely exciting…

… but there is no flashing illuminated sign saying “this way to the answer to all the puzzles”. And there is no single observation, no one experimental result, that help to point the way. We are virtually clueless.

With this background Woit writes that “Baggot turns to a detailed examination of the speculative ideas that have not worked out, but have dominated the field for the past 30-40 years (SUSY, GUTS, Superstring/M-theory, the multiverse). This is difficult material to do justice to, but Baggott does a good job of giving an explanation of these ideas that includes some understanding of the problems with them. He ends the book with this advice to the reader:”

Next time you pick up the latest best-selling popular science book, or tune into the latest science documentary on the radio or television, keep an open mind and try to maintain a healthy skepticism… What is the nature of the evidence in support of this theory? Does the theory make predictions of quantity or number, of matter of fact and existence? Do the theory’s predictions have the capability – even in principle – of being subject to observational or experimental test?

Come to your own conclusions.

Woit writes on about the problem of the lack of any experimental evidence to support String Theory, M-Theory, and the multiverse concept to explain the fine-tuning of physical parameters in our universe. For the whole review, go to Woit’s website.

 3. My Amazon Review of Baggott’s Book

In his book Baggott takes on the stagnation in quantum physics research, and he does a very good job of giving us an overview of this “stagnation.” I particularly like Chapter 1 in which he gives us his “tour” through the nature of physical reality, its current uncertainties, elements/approaches to the scientific method, and how at the end, there is always metaphysical (beyond physics) element to it.

Part I chapters provide a grand tour of 20th century physics discoveries, which have been phenomenal. But he ends with a chapter on the problems and “Why the Authorized Version of Reality Can’t be Right.” These include problems in trying to explain the collapse of the quantum wavefunction, difficulties with symmetries and how these could have come about, the mysteries of space (in particular what could be the source of dark matter and dark energy—that is expanding our universe), and the cosmological fine-tuning problem.

Part 2 chapters take on the problems with recent theoretical efforts that have given us super symmetry, superstring theory, the multiverse, theories on information in black holes, quantum information, etc. Baggott very elegantly and strongly makes the key point: for none of these do we have even a glimpse of how we would get empirical verification. He calls them fairy-tale physics because none have any empirical support. It is all metaphysics.

As I write in my book (Frontiers of Knowledge), the frontier explorations in physics (for dark matter, dark energy, and the fine-tuning), mind and brain research, and very unusual consciousness phenomena (mind-body effects, NDEs, etc.) are taking us into subtle- and spiritual-dimensions of reality. Baggott and other physicists have no expertise in these. What Baggott does so well is describe the limits of our current sciences that see physicality as all there is. He ends the book with “What is the nature of the evidence in support of this theory, … ?” Maybe we are looking in the wrong place. What if it will be found when we discover how to work in subtle, spiritual dimensions?

I and some others see mankind at the beginning stages of a revolution of knowledge; one in which we learn how to understand and work with subtle-dimensional phenomena. There are a few scientists working this, but they are seen as “outcasts” by the mainstream scientific organizations. The key question is: how long will main-stream scientists wander around in the land of “fairy-tale physics” before they recognize they have to drastically expand their perspective of reality?”

 

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