Feynman versus Bohr over the Copenhagen Interpretation

‘Anybody who is not shocked by quantum mechanics has not understood it!’ – Niels Bohr.

‘Nobody understands quantum mechanics!’ – Richard P. Feynman.

There’s a total lack of respect in Feynman’s writings for the brainwashing non-calculational philosophical baggage of Bohr, which Feynman also generously dished out to string theorists.  Feynman’s lack of respect for string theorists and Copenhagen Interpretationists is summed up by his kindly suggestion: ‘Shut up and calculate!’

‘I would like to put the uncertainty principle in its historical place … If you get rid of all the old-fashioned ideas and instead use the ideas that I’m explaining in these lectures [path integrals] – adding arrows for all the ways an event can happen – there is no need for an uncertainty principle!’

– Feynman, QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, Penguin, London, 1990, footnote on pages 55-6.

‘… I do feel strongly that this is nonsense! … I think all this superstring stuff is crazy and is in the wrong direction. … I don’t like it that they’re not calculating anything. … why are the masses of the various particles such as quarks what they are? All these numbers … have no explanations in these string theories – absolutely none! … I don’t like that they don’t check their ideas. I don’t like that for anything that disagrees with an experiment, they cook up an explanation—a fix-up to say, “Well, it might be true.” For example, the theory requires ten dimensions. Well, maybe there’s a way of wrapping up six of the dimensions. Yes, that’s all possible mathematically, but why not seven? When they write their equation, the equation should decide how many of these things get wrapped up, not the desire to agree with experiment. In other words, there’s no reason whatsoever in superstring theory that it isn’t eight out of the ten dimensions that get wrapped up and that the result is only two dimensions, which would be completely in disagreement with experience. So the fact that it might disagree with experience is very tenuous, it doesn’t produce anything…’

– Feynman, in the book by Davies & Brown, ‘Superstrings’ 1988 at pages 194-195.

The analogy of the Copenhagen Interpretation religion to the string theory religion is very interesting.  The stringers are nearly all devout believers, they have faith in philosophical speculative (non-calculating) orthodoxy because they believe it is beautiful and a safe bet from experimental refutation.  That’s why all these people, the worshippers who prefer to believe in what they don’t understand to the hard work of making predictive calculations, vandalise science, polluting the experimental work of generations with extra-dimensional fantasy that doesn’t connect to reality at all.

Nobody is allowed to say that a connection between non-observable spin-2 gravitons and non-observable near-Planck scale unification based on a non-observable 10 dimensional superstring (mem)brane floating on an 11 dimensional supergravity bulk is a lot of hype, even less scientific than a mathematical theory of leprechauns, or arguing over how many fairies can fit on the end of a pin.  It’s worse because mathematics is being abused by M-theorists (the superstring-supergravity unification ideas) who obfuscate to cover up the fact of their non-existent ‘theory’.  Even the name ‘M-theory’ is a falsehood: their speculations contain no dynamical theory, just an empty framework, like Pauli’s box.

Consider Heisenberg’s crackpotism that Wolfgang Pauli discredited with an anti-Heisenberg campaign.

It is a just a piece of paper with an empty box on it, the label of which reads: ‘Comment on Heisenberg’s Radio advertisement. This is to show the world that I can paint like Titian. Only technical details are missing. W. Pauli.’

Dr Woit explains: ‘With such a dramatic lack of experimental support, string theorists often attempt to make an aesthetic argument, professing that the theory is strikingly ‘elegant’ or ‘beautiful.’ Because there is no well-defined theory to judge, it’s hard to know what to make of these assertions, and one is reminded of another quotation from Pauli. Annoyed by Werner Heisenberg’s claims that, though lacking in some specifics, he had a wonderful unified theory (he didn’t), Pauli sent letters to some of his physicist friends each containing a blank rectangle and the text, ‘This is to show the world that I can paint like Titian. Only technical details are missing.’ Because no one knows what ‘M-theory’ is, its beauty is that of Pauli’s painting. Even if a consistent M-theory can be found, it may very well turn out to be something of great complexity and ugliness.’

– Dr Peter Woit, ‘Is string theory even wrong?’, American Scientist, March-April 2002, http://www.americanscientist.org/template/AssetDetail/assetid/18638/page/2#19239

Worse still, the 6-dimensional Calabi-Yau manifold needed to compress 6 dimensions introduces a vast amount of complexity into the theory of vibrating strings being fundamental particles: so much complexity (due to each extra dimension being capable of having a whole ‘landscape’ of different size and shape parameters), that there are an estimated 10^500 or more different ways (these different solutions are called the ‘landscape’ after a crude two dimensional way of plotting a graph of some parameters that superficially resembles terrain) of producing particle physics from the model, and no reason why any of them is the Standard Model of particle physics we observe.  Even if this model is right, which might take some time to ascertain even with fast computers seeing that the universe is only something like 10^17 seconds old (i.e., even if you had the entire age of the universe to investigate the 10^500 solutions, you would need to be able to check 10^483 solutions per second to do so, which is still a massive computational problem!).

However, no matter what you do to replace the current false and time wasting empty box with genuine physics, you’ll just be insulting the religion founded by the ‘fathers’ of M-theory like Edward Witten and they won’t thank you for correcting their errors.  Nobody has yet discovered a way to disprove a religion.  It can’t be done.  You see, a religion like M-theory isn’t built on any solid facts in the first place, so it’s completely invulnerable.  Point out to the priest that you don’t see any angels or heaven or extra-dimensions floating around, and their response is to educate you that you must believe the theory because it is a beautiful tale, that all will be proved on the day of judgement.  Can’t wait!

Speculation that can’t be checked is religion.

Bad science turned religion which is opposed rationally cannot be defended by rational argument (because the speculations have no empirical basis or confirmation), so such a thing is defensible only by fascism, with disastrous consequences for objective studies:

‘The creative period passed away … The past became sacred, and all that it had produced, good and bad, was reverenced alike. This kind of idolatry invariably springs up in that interval of languor and reaction which succeeds an epoch of production. In the mind-history of every land there is a time when slavish imitation is inculcated as a duty, and novelty regarded as a crime … The result will easily be guessed. Egypt stood still … Conventionality was admired, then enforced. The development of the mind was arrested; it was forbidden to do any new thing.’ – W.W. Reade, The Martyrdom of Man, 1872, c1, War.

‘Whatever ceases to ascend, fails to preserve itself and enters upon its inevitable path of decay. It decays … by reason of the failure of the new forms to fertilise the perceptive achievements which constitute its past history.’ – Alfred North Whitehead, F.R.S., Sc.D., Religion in the Making, Cambridge University Press, 1927, p. 144.

‘Fascism is not a doctrinal creed; it is a way of behaving towards your fellow man. What, then, are the tell-tale hallmarks of this horrible attitude? Paranoid control-freakery; an obsessional hatred of any criticism or contradiction; the lust to character-assassinate anyone even suspected of it; a compulsion to control or at least manipulate the media … the majority of the rank and file prefer to face the wall while the jack-booted gentlemen ride by.’ – Frederick Forsyth, Daily Express, 7 Oct. 05, p. 11.

Once you have committed to a false theory, based on speculations that don’t come from observation or experiment but from vain fantasy, science is finished.  This is because all reasonable advances based on facts will be viciously attacked by the speculators, who use ad hominem methods lacking objectivity to censor those making checkable calculations.