Archive for February, 2021

Quantum Theory – Why Modern Physics Needs More Feeling

February 4th, 2021

Conceptual Revolution

Quantum theory revolutionized modern physics. It is the branch of physics that deals with extremely small phenomena (atomic and sub-atomic events). The word, “quantum” means “the smallest, indivisible amount”, such as a photon of light or a minute measure of angular momentum. A quantum of anything cannot reduce to smaller amounts. The revolutionary idea of quantum theory is this very fact–that events of the observable world operate only in discrete jumps from one energy level to another, with no continuous gradation in between.

Quantum theory came from efforts of scientists trying to explain specific measurements of specific physical events, such as black body radiation and the photoelectric effect. Classical physics simply could not explain these events. The mathematics of classical physics failed at atomic and sub-atomic levels where these events originated. Quantum theory gradually evolved into a very successful scientific tool, capable of achieving precise measurements to twelve decimal places. At the same time, however, it presented us with conceptual conundrums.

Despite its extreme practical precision, quantum theory gives us no precise view of what objective reality might be. The question of “objective reality” seems irrelevant, even absurd from a quantum theorist’s point of view.

Modern Physics

The usual attitude of quantum physicists seems to be that quantum theory should NOT have to tell us anything about real objects or real events. These physicists do not acknowledge an objective reality at small scales where human sensory perception fails to operate. Gross anatomical senses, in their views, cannot access any such reality at this level, because reality does not exist here for human senses to access.

From quantum physicists’ points of view, science does not deal with questions of “objective reality’ but with consistent measurements and calculations of entangled processes that allow us a certain degree of control over our lives. Absolutely no one-to-one correspondence between measurements and a unique reality exists.

Classical Physics

Classical physics always assumed a one-to-one correspondence between physical objects of a real world and measurements that defined these objects uniquely. Quantum theory, on the other hand, dismisses this as an erroneous fantasy. Die-hard quantum theorists do not accept that a reality separated from measurements even exists. Rather, they argue, the measuring process weaves into the making of reality. The observer weaves into the observed. All science can do is to describe the “state” of observer-observed, entangled systems, without saying that observers or observables have distinct identities.

Death Of Sensory Understanding

Quantum theory, thus, has amputated human senses from scientific understanding. Physics has become non-physical. Science has become hyper-mathematical with respect to probing, mechanical, measuring devices, leaving human bodily sensations in a deserted wasteland that the new quantum standards deem archaic.

Why should this state of affairs concern us?

I believe that human beings build successful civilizations through refining gross anatomical sensations that all human beings share. Common, natural languages, rich in metaphors and analogies, are vehicles to transport these refined anatomical sensations. The stability of civilizations might even depend on our successful sharing of metaphors and analogies.

One of the conceptual conundrums of quantum theory is its suggestion that all apparent objects and events are inseparable, while at the same time, it calls for rigidly separate energy packets and, in some interpretations, rigidly separate, multiple universes absolutely impervious to interaction. This creates confusion. If perceived objects and events, indeed, are indivisible at the most fundamental level, then human beings can realize this only through commonly conceived, natural languages that harmonize with specialized mathematical languages.

Quantum theory, as it currently stands, seems contradictory, even though it works great conceptually. This does not help unite human beings and human civilizations at a depth required to achieve truly great advancements.

Aesthetic Revolution

I suggest, therefore, that an aesthetic revolution needs to occur along with a scientific revolution, and that the modern world is behind schedule. Rather than employ a heartless wave function that merely offers non-substantial probabilities, I wonder whether there is an aesthetically pleasing alternative that allows people of all interests to advance together. Can we interpret the wave function better as a measurement of a real physical substance in motion? Again, human beings seem to need such objectivity to make sense of science.

Fluid World-View

All life, as we know it, arose from the fluid ocean. Perhaps all existence, as we can know it, arose from a quantum super-fluid sea. Religions around the world invariably embrace water in their creation stories. Earth’s surface is largely water, as is Earth’s atmosphere, as is the human body. All the clues are visible to inspire a new, modern-day view of “objective reality”.

What object is both malleable and discrete in the same perceptual/conceptual context? Answer: fluid. Human beings, therefore, might best conceive of objective reality as a fluid substance in motion.