Dr. Voroshilov: from A to Z

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**This page offers the latest posts on The Fundamentals Of Quantum Physics**

__More posts are after the Foreword.__

The other day I asked a professional physics researcher, an experimentalist, if he thinks that an electron is a wave or a particle. At first he said "it's a wave packet", then "I don't really care, I don't think about it, I know how to calculate what I need, that's all I need". These two responses represent the most common sentiments in the Western physics:1. An electron (and, of course, any other quantum particle) is a wave (in different forms, including a packet); or 2. It does not matter what it is, as long as the math works.

The latter approach treats quantum mechanics as a black box, i.e. we know inputs and outputs, it does not matter what's inside. The former approach is just one of the interpretations (my 30 - 50 year old textbooks have others). And I believe it is a wrong one. In every experiment an electron acts like a localized object, i.e. a particle (no matter how many times you would make a shot of billions of photons in a space where an electron travels through, the Compton scattering happens only

*here*and

*now*). Thinking about an electron as of an actual physical wave means using a hundred-year old idea that was presented at the time of the birth of quantum mechanics - to gain an understanding of what it does. But sticking to this idea hundred years later demonstrates misunderstanding of the fundamentals of quantum mechanics, including (but not limited to) "the wave-function collapse". Of course, if a physical wave existed in a large region of space and would suddenly concentrated in one single local point - that would look very unfamiliar for anyone who tried to apply to quantum mechanics ideas from the classical mechanics. But if an electron is a particle that is

*always*localized, there is even no need for such an event as "a collapse". A statement that "a wave-function collapses" means only that physicists do not have an accurate mathematical description of the interactions between a quantum system and a classical one (an electron "flies" and Schrodinger equation describes it, then an electron hits a photo-plate - and "collapse" happens). The behavior of an electron is "magical" in some way, meaning, very different from a classical particle, and still not completely understood. But there is no need at all for keeping using outdated interpretation that only confuses public (hence, helps attracting public attention), but do not provide any significant insights into the fundamentals of quantum mechanics.

That is why I wrote several posts on the matter, starting from the foreword below.

**Foreword**(from Killing The Schrodinger's Cat, at last and for good: part I).
In this book at
first he criticizes all existing interpretations of quantum mechanics, and then
he promotes his own. However, I prefer sticking to the interpretation which
satisfies the Occam's razor test (and described in the series of
my posts).

There are two
major facts about quantum mechanics everybody needs to know

The first one is
that quantum mechanics works.

The second one is
that quantum mechanics is not a complete theory – that is why there are several
interpretations of

*why*it works.
The third fact,
however, the fact of the matter is that this situation is not the first, not
the only, and I'm pretty sure not the last one in physics and in science in
general when a working theory exists, but the reasons for why it works aren’t
clear and different factions of scientific community hold different views on
that matter.

For example, more
than 2000 years ago the world knew only a few true physical theories – one of those
was the Archimedes’ theory of a
lever. The lever has been known for thousands of years before Archimedes, but
he was the first one who gave a detailed
mathematical description of how it works. But only a couple of thousands of years
later physicists could explain why Archimedes’ theory worked.

This maybe is not
the perfect example, but it works as an illustration.

Physics is not
alone, other sciences also have similar examples: for example, no one denies
evolution, species do evolve. But the theory of evolution, that one that
answers the question why do species evolve – is a different story; Darwinism is not
the only one, there are, or at least, there were alternatives.

So, quantum theory
works, we know how to use it to describe quantum world, but we do not know why
it works. And the only reason why so many physicists are still bothered by the
latter fact is that quantum theory is very different from clear and logical classical
mechanics.

So far, all
attempts to fit quantum theory in the same logical frame that works for
classical mechanics have failed.

Most physicists
believe that because a classical, i.e. macroscopic, world represents a
composition of a large number of quantum, i.e. microscopic, worlds, the logical
and mathematical description of both worlds must be connected in a clear and
logical way – classical laws must be “derived” from quantum laws, and quantum
laws must be “derived” from classical laws.

Here we already
run into a debate – because different scholars have a different meaning for
term “derived”.

At the dawn of the
quantum era, to demonstrate how different quantum mechanics is from classical
mechanics physicists invented paradoxes. One of such well-known paradoxes was
“SchrÃ¶dinger’s cat”, and another one “EPR paradox”.

What readers need
to understand that a hundred years ago those paradoxes played an important role
as discussion generators. But today, a hundred years later, we have a much
better understanding of what works and what does not work in quantum mechanics,
including the meaning of those old paradoxes. A historian may keep uncovering
more and more nuances in those hundred-year-old discussions. But a physicist
needs to focus on the current understanding.

And again, the
history of science knows very similar situations, when for many years a paradox
was a nucleus of many heated discussions, but was resolved and now it has only
historical value.

### My favorite paradox of such type is Zeno’s paradox that says that a runner cannot ever run a mile (the Dichotomy paradox). Now we know that the sum of an infinitely many terms can have a finite value.

### In conclusion, we know that quantum mechanics is very different from classical mechanics, we know that we don’t know why a quantum theory works, and that realization leads to different theories about a quantum theory, known as interpretations. How do we select that one which we like the most? Everyone has a different approach. I always use the Occam's razor and select an explanation which requires the least amount of reasoning, the smallest number of assumptions, and the most natural assumptions.

### Such interpretation of quantum mechanics exists. And in the series of post on this page I tried to offer a description of this interpretation and explain why this interpretation is the best one – so far.

The Core Assumption of Every Known Single Photon Experiment Is Wrong

This webpage offers some additional publications (old or short).

The links to all six my applications to the NSF 2026 Big Idea Machine (from August 31, 2018 to October 26, 2018):

1. Entry125253: High Frequency Data Streams in Education

2. Entry124656: objective measures of physics knowledge

3. Entry125317: National database teacher PD

4. Entry124655: role of NSF in funding education

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