Quantum mechanics from quantum field theory


Fig. 1: the “not equal to” signs above are controversial, because according to status quo (dogma), exp(-iHt/hbar) from quantum mechanics is precisely equal to the path integral over exp(iS/hbar).  In fact, it is commonplace in quantum field theory to treat them as mathematically equal, so you Fourier-transform an action (calculated by integrating a quantum field lagrangian over time) into a hamiltonian to allow easy calculations (avoiding the path integral).  Zee, for example, claims to do path integrals while actually only using a single path evaluation, exp(-iHt/hbar), and then claims that his non-multipath, non-path integral mathematics is proof that the the graviton travels along the path of least action, i.e. directly between the two masses which “attract”, proving that gravitons are spin-2.  By the physical error of using as an input assumption in your calculation what you are trying to prove, you don’t prove anything other than that you are using a circular argument.  1st quantization quantum mechanics effectively states that there is only a single wavefunction for every “particle”, and this wavefunction’s amplitude is proportional the complex number exp(iS/hbar) = i sin(S/hbar) + cos(S/hbar), which reduces to simply cos(S/hbar) if you just want to know probabilities (from squaring the wavefunction and normalizing) and you aren’t interested in polarization vectors (which can be represented using the complex component, i.e. the angle with respect to the real axis on the argand diagram is zero for non-polarization situations).  You would however want to use the polarization vector when scattering two particles which each have a spin.  The spin vectors interfere either constructively or destructively, affecting the resultant cross-section in the S-matrix.  The mechanism for this spin effect is magnetic fields, but mechanisms are not usually discussed (preference is given to actually making calculations, rather than contriving a system of mechanisms that gives an understanding of what happens; likewise a magician who starts off by explaining his tricks is less revered than one who deceives).  Polarization effects also exist with light photons, and the complex amplitude is needed in the optical theorem, which is so beloved by Jacques Distler.  In the atom, electrons are paired with opposite spins, so complex vectors are used for the spin polarization.  However, for the case of calculating probabilities where spin vectors do not affect the S matrix, wavefunction amplitude exp(iS/hbar) effectively reduces to its purely real amplitude component, cos(S/hbar).  


The electron doesn’t “orbit” the nucleus classically, because the Coulomb field that binds it to the nucleus isn’t classical, but instead is composed of discrete interactions due to the exchange of off-shell photons (observable only through the forces they impart) called “field quanta”.  Feynman explains this breakdown of classical mechanics in the case of an atom using the path integral in his 1985 book QED (which Jacques Distler in a brief discussion with me, kindly confused with Feynman’s 1965 book on path integrals – not mechanisms for quantum mechanics and optics – coauthored with Albert Hibbs).  Now, how does quantum field theory (2nd quantization, i.e. indeterminancy caused by random chaotic field quanta impacts on particles) differ from “quantum mechanics” (1st quantization, intrinsic indeterminancy/magic/non-mechanism dogma/”complementarity principle”/Bohring physics)?  Answer: multipath interference. In the double slit experiment, a transversely spatial photon (behaving like a skywave HF “radio wave” undergoing multipath reflection from different charged regions in the ionosphere) goes through two slits.  The part of the spatially extended (i.e. transverse) photon which goes on the slit with a shorter path length to the screen, arrives at the screen first (because the distance is shorter) and therefore is slightly out of phase with the remainder of the photon which goes through the other slit.  This causes the interference, just as it would with water waves which arrive out of phase and undergo amplitude (not energy) cancellation.  Energy is conserved.

Altogether it’s a complicated mechanism for indeterminancy.  But it’s reality.  So why is 1st quantization quantum mechanics – which ignores the mechanism of multipath interference for indeterminancy – still widely ignored almost 30 years after Feynman debunked it?  Magic.  Interesting controversy.  Feynman makes this point in another book, where he writes of his battles with the physics educational textbook buying committee in California.  They recommended a crass book which contained pictures of machines with the question underneath: “What makes it go?”  Feynman explained how enthusiastic he was to find this approach – thinking that the book would then go on to explain the mechanism for each of the machines.  Instead, when he turned over the page, the answer was: “Energy makes it go!”  Feynman explains this is crass, because it conveys no information whatsoever.  If something stops you can say that “energy makes it stop” (you use energy in applying the break).

The basic problem of “energy makes it go” is analogous to “the Heisenberg indeterminancy principle makes the wavefunction collapse” in quantum mechanics: it omits the mechanism.  

Gerard ‘t Hooft’s peer reviewer on quantum gravity paper


Entire content of Editor Gerard ‘t Hooft’s response (Foundations of Physics, FOOP-D-13-00186 “Planck data and correction of Frampton’s repulsive gravity”) :

“[Dyslexic] Reviewer #1: In my opinion this manuscript has a contents [sic?] that is not correct. The author has a [sic] idea about repulsive gravity, but seems to neglect a general theorem concerning gravitational fields of a spherically symmetric source, namely that only the part of the source closer to the center than the field point contibutes [sic] to the gravitational field at the point.”


To spell out what’s wrong with this dyslexic “peer reviewer” report Nobel Laureate ‘t Hooft relied on, here’s the equivalent “argument” against Einstein’s 1905 paper: “The author has an idea about relativity, but seems to neglect a general theorem by Issac Newton about absolute space and time.”  Got it? The point is, principles and assumptions don’t count for nothing (to use bad grammar), all that counts is agreement with measurements.

You cannot assess a new principle by seeing whether it agrees with old prejudiced assumptions and “theorems” which are based on quicksand.  You need to see whether it agrees with experiment and observation, not subjectivity.


The whole point of the paper is to overturn the prejudice that gravity is due to innate attraction, there is no proved “general theorem” which proves the dogma that gravity is only dependent on the mass in the earth, it’s merely a (wrong) assumption.  It’s a good approximation for most purposes, but fails to predict dark energy from gravitation, unlike the correct model!  The fact that ‘t Hooft passed this nonsense on to the friend who submitted my paper to ‘t Hooft’s journal, shows that he is purely prejudiced and easily deluded, and/or doesn’t have enough time to do his job properly and actually read papers himself.

Let’s repeat the basic principles:

(1) Distant mass (supernovae etc) is observably accelerating: this is modelled in an ad hoc way using a small positive cosmological constant (dark energy gives an outward acceleration, Newtonian/Einsteinian gravity an inward acceleration in the big bang universe).  This is currently accepted evidence and isn’t in the least controversial.

(2) Here’s the controversial bit.  If we apply Newton’s 2nd and 3rd laws to the small (~ 10^-10 ms^-2) observed acceleration to the mass in the universe around us, we find an inward reaction force of F = ma, and using the uncontroversial gravity cross-section we prove that the “dark energy” causes predicts Newton’s law of gravitationa attraction by analogy to the Casimir force.  The measured weak force cross-section area is simply scaled to gravity using Feynman’s rules for calculating Feynman diagrams, where the cross-section is proportional to the square of the coupling.  All of this is empirical input, however.  There is nothing scientifically wrong with doing new things with existing, well-established empirical laws (Newton’s laws) and the empirical weak force cross-section an coupling!  Quite the opposite!  We should be doing new things, trying new calculations, and publishing successful results!

(3) The result is that we can calculate terrestrial gravitation accurately using dark energy.  This is new, because it predicts the gravitational coupling from lambda, the dark energy cosmological constant, or vice-versa.  The old, established approach is different: it says that dark energy and gravitation are different things, not the same.  It cannot calculate one from the other.  It treats the two numbers are unrelated.

(4) What we’ve done here is analogous to what Newton did when he combined or unified Kepler’s solar system laws with Galileo’s terrestrial gravitation.  Prior to Newton, the solar system was presumed (by Gilbert and also Kepler) to be held together by magnetic forces.  Newton did away with the magnetic force theory; he showed that the force that caused apples to fall was the same as that which caused the moon to stay in orbit around the earth, or the earth to orbit the sun.

What we’re doing is similarly eliminating one fictional force by showing it to really be another force in disguise: dark energy and gravitation are different aspects of the same thing. The apple is pushed down by the same fundamental gauge interaction that accelerates distant supernova.

Why we need objective censorship

Censorship, quality censorship, consists of constructive criticism, like requesting predictions and comparisons to reality.  Junk censorship or quackery consists of “no-go theorems”, contrived excuses to ignore innovations, simply because they’re not in any textbooks and don’t follow from professional frontier research being done by Sean carroll or a million dollar Nobel Laureate like Alexis Carroll, who invented gas chambers for eugenics after being awarded a medical Nobel prize.  Prizes create a political system in science that in politics is called groupthink dictatorship. Of course, if you criticise a politician for behaving as a dictator in a so-called democracy, he will falsely claim that you’re “against democracy” (daily referendums, in ancient Greece) and in favour of anarchy, instead of being in favour of real democracy.  He’ll very quickly “draw a line” under the discussion to prevent you from saying that in response, thus confirming that he really is a dictator.  The situation is then one where to avoid being labelled “rude”, nobody is actually able to “say” someone is a dictator who censors facts, or at least they are simply censored out of videotape and transcripts for publication (precisely the situation with critics of dictatorship in “honest” dictatorships, i.e. those which don’t try to misleadingly use propaganda to paint themselves in the color of democracy).  So all that we actually see in the fashion-bigoted media is a filtered version of what is actually going on.  That’s a dictatorship of fashion, censoring innovation in the name of preserving rationality.  The ultra-conservatives (in the sense of suppressing dissent) who censor most severely are of course those who declare themselves falsely to be most progressive, like the Marxists, the socialists, the communists, and the fascists.  Those who the left falsely label as “ultra-conservatives” are ironically the real radicals, because they are unattached to the dogmatic dictatorship of bigotry, and so are more prepared to listen and evaluate alternative courses of action than the thugs.

There are two types of controversy: fashionable and unfashionable.  The former generates money and excitement; the latter does the opposite.  In order to market research, it is a fact that you need to be fashionable.  To generate funding for research, you need to market ideas.  Therefore, you need to be fashionable.  Nobody cares what you do, as long as you keep out of the newspapers. Otherwise, you court controversy and damnation.

Fashionable controversy -> media interest and funding from media-deluded billionaires
Unfashionable controversy -> no media interest and no funding from media-deluded billionaires.

Take Darwin’s Origin of Species, or Newton’s Principia, as contrasted to Maxwell’s Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism, for example.  Darwin and Newton both courted fashion.  Darwin in the first edition deliberately excluded the history of evolution: of course he was well aware of earlier theories of evolution which contained error, but he did not frame his book as a defense of, or correction of, Lamarke’s flawed evolution theory.

Darwin was controversial in a more fashionable (media-interest generating) way than ordinary research.  The point is, the controversy that Darwin’s book catered to wasn’t the boring technical errors in the Lamarke theory of evolution (Lamarke’s evolution was more complex and wrong than Darwin’s, it claimed evolution of species occurred magically due to the inheritance of acquired habits, like neck stretching), but was instead the evidence for a very simple mechanism of evolution which was rejected out of hand by creationists.  Darwin didn’t even need to frame an argument with creationists in his book: merely presenting the evidence was enough to generate the controversy which gave publicity to his evidence!  That’s the point.

By seeming to merely present facts, without spelling out their implications for creationism or for Lamarke, Darwin came across as more objective, providing more effective fuel for existing media controversy than he would have done if his writings had spelled out moral implications.  Likewise, Newton did not review and correct his predecessors’s work and errors in Principia in 1687.  Instead, Newton just presented evidence.  he did not review the literature.  Einstein tended to follow this same approach of Newton, leading to some criticisms that he did not provide enough literature references in his papers (Einstein’s key 1905 relativity paper contains no references at all).  The point is, the most fashionable way to be controversial is to appear to be totally uncontroversial, by making no mention of the existing situation.  However, as many have pointed out, Einstein’s paper could not be published today with the bigoted “research” dogmas that insist new papers build on existing prejudices in the subject, or at least cite them and discuss their errors.

Finally, we come to Maxwell, who is the exception.  Whereas Newton, Darwin and Einstein wrote classics by going against the “research” dogma of science, by ignoring in their key papers the histories of their subjects and the existing controversies, and presenting fresh evidence (search results, not “research”), Maxwell used the technique of research.  Maxwell’s Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism reviews the history of the subject in detail, adding new ideas within the historical discussion.  It is not the approach taken by Newton, Darwin, or Einstein.  It is full of footnotes giving obsolete literature references to research long since edited out of modern textbooks.

The point is, Maxwell’s book didn’t create a revolution any more than Kepler’s long-winded astrology book on planetary motions (which claimed planets were bound to the sun by magnetism, and that their motions were musical, etc.), it was Oliver Heaviside who extracted and reformulated in vector calculus notation the “Maxwell equations”, from 20 Maxwell long handed differential equations.  These, contrary to misinformed modern mathematical physicists, prevented Maxwell from using an asymmetry in the “four” vector calculus equations as the basis to add displacement current.  Maxwell added displacement current to allow for open circuits, e.g. capacitor charging with a “vacuum dielectric”, not because he could see any asymmetry in his equations.  In any case, even Heaviside didn’t just have four vector calculus equivalent equations.  They had five, the extra one being the conservation of charge.  For this reason, plus Maxwell’s support of “aether”, his book is unfashionable even today.  Modern physicists prefer a sanitized description of Maxwell, written by Einstein.  Maxwell’s theory, it is said, is Maxwell’s equations.   Only they’re actually Einstein’s equations.

To summarize: (1) everyday research techniques (research reviews of existing work) are boring and unfashionable compared to a non-research style book presenting revolutionary new evidence minus history, (2) the history of science is always unfashionable and boring or diverting.  If Darwin (or Newton or Einstein) had presented the new evidence hidden within the context of a long-winded evaluation and correction of Lamarke’s theory of evolution, his book would have been a technical, boring PhD or Maxwell-style research thesis which would not have been popular reading for the media or public, and it would not have therefore been a tool of popular and fashionable controversy.  (Lamarke was “old hat” to the media.)

Precisely because Darwin omitted unpopular technical controversy, he was able to court the more fashionable type of controversy needed to sell his ideas to the world.  By discriminating between unfashionable controversy (technical research trivia) and fashionable controversy (interesting and popular evidence), we can understand the kind of writing necessary to market new ideas successfully, obtaining sufficient funding to develop them usefully.  However, I don’t think it’s a disaster to produce densely written, compact, and sketchy technical reports as an interim stage in this process.

First, it helps to draft material and to establish a paper trail so that the evolutionary improvement of the ideas and calculations is on record.  Secondly, it helps to obtain criticisms and to highlight areas that require reformulation or better presentation.  To start a scientific book by writing down a contents list and then fill in the chapter content is to start and finish with bias.  The contents of a scientific book should be determined by the content research, not the other way around.  Science should be driven by evidence, rather than evidence being selected and contrived to fit theoretical dogma.  The contrast between a textbook, assembled to cater to the prejudice by a dogmatic exam syllabus, and a scientific book cannot be greater.  It’s exceedingly easy to produce the outline for a textbook, you just look at the syllabus.  It’s harder to approach the problem scientifically, because of the many interconnections between different aspects of a subject.  If you are unifying two different forces, for example, it might not be possible to merely treat each force in a separate chapter, and then you have the difficulty of breaking material down into chapter sized chunks, without losing the connections.  So the key organization problem for the revolutionary is the non-problem for the textbook writer.  The textbook writer has the basic contents chapter list on a platter from the exam syllabus, while the revolutionary science writer has the problem of deciding how to organize radically new evidence.

Zombies: Sean Carroll versus Jacques Distler

Occasionally, as in June 1941, a couple of dictators find themselves giving up their pretense of groupthink socialist unity, and try to overcome their differences using more constructive techniques than simply “agreeing to disagree”.  E.g., war.  This is then labelled in the media as some kind of disproof of dictatorship.  Their “logic” is that, if two thugs fight, then surely that proves that one side must be right and the other must be wrong?  So in June 1941, the fact that Hitler attacked Stalin (not vice-versa!!!) was seen in the Marxist-duped Western media to somehow elevate Stalin to sainthood (ignoring Stalin’s joint invasion of Poland with Hitler in 1939, and the Katyn forest massacre of 1940).  So anyone with useful ideas continues to be ignored, and the media goes from reporting on the dictators to worshipping one of the dictators while criticising the other.  No progress in media ethics ever occurs.

Unrelated to this political problem is Professor Jacques Distler’s wonderful defense of physics against Zombies perpetuated by media-dominating Sean carroll:

August 24, 2013


Normally, I wouldn’t touch a paper, with the phrase “Boltzmann brains” in the title, with a 10-foot pole. And anyone accosting me, intent on discussing the subject, would normally be treated as one of the walking undead.

But Sean Carroll wrote a paper and a blog post and I really feel the need to do something about it.

Sean’s “idea,” in a nutshell, is that the large-field instability of the Standard-Model Higgs potential — if the top mass is a little heavier than current observations tell us that it is — is a “feature”: our (“false”) vacuum will eventually decay (with a mean lifetime somewhere on the order of the age of the universe), saving us from being Boltzmann brains.

This is plainly nuts. How can a phase transition that may or may not take place, billions of years in the future, affect anything that we measure in the here-and-now? And, if it doesn’t affect anything in the present, why do I #%@^} care?

The whole Boltzmann brain “paradox” is a category error, anyway.

The same argument leads us to conclude that human civilization (and perhaps all life on earth) will collapse sometime in the not-too-distant future. If not, then “most” human beings — out of all the humans who have ever lived, or ever will live — live in the future. So, if I am a typical human (and I have no reason to think that I am atypical), then I am overwhelmingly likely to be living in the future. So why don’t I have a rocket car? To avoid this “paradox,” we conclude that human civilization must end before the number of future humans becomes too large.

The trouble is that there is no theory of probability (Bayesian, frequentist, unicorn, …) under which the reasoning of the previous paragraph is valid. In any theory of probability, that I know of, it’s either nonsensical or wrong.

Now where’s my shovel … ?

Posted by distler at August 24, 2013 2:10 PM

Carroll replies there in the comments section:


In both the paper and the blog post I explain that our reasoning is quite different from the silly arguments rejected above. Naturally, taking the time to read them, understand the point, and engage constructively is a bit of effort with which not everyone will choose to bother.

Posted by: Sean Carroll on August 25, 2013 12:16 PM | Permalink | Reply to this


How about this:

Your notion of “cognitive instability” is better-understood as the statement that a proper Bayesian, even if his priors strongly favour the hypothesis that he is a Boltzmann brain, will very quickly come to reject that hypothesis.

Call it survivorship-bias, if you wish, but Bayesians have no Boltzmann brain problem (and frequentists would reject the “problem” as nonsensical in the first place).

Posted by: Jacques Distler on August 25, 2013 12:37 PM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this