I’m digesting this information at the moment, but it’s maybe a heads-up that some new quantum ideas are coming along that will make a major change to the way we look at things on both the cosmological scale and at the atomic scale, and may have some pretty large consequences at a human scale, too.
We’ll start with the link from ***** here that shows that the Bohm pilot-wave idea doesn’t produce unphysical predictions. There are a lot of onward links here that are worth following, too, so be prepared to open a lot of tabs in the browser. I was taught the Copenhagen interpretation, where all the various probabilities coexisted until the result was actually measured, which takes a bit of swallowing and a lot of doublethink in order to use effectively and also begs the question of what constitutes a measurement. Do we need a conscious being to do the measurement or can the measurement be done by a simple physical interaction. If the former, then it’s hard to see how the burgeoning possible courses of events could remain unresolved for around 14 billion years, and if the latter then every cause/effect would be a local collapse of the wavefunctions to a single course of events and there would not actually be superposed probability functions. The Bohm interpretation gets over all that nicely and says effectively that there is a real particle in a particular place, but that the particle influences the pilot wave and the pilot wave influences the particle, and so although we end up with the same uncertainties when we actually measure something there’s nothing imaginary needed. In the double-slit experiment above, the electron passes through either one slit or the other, but the pilot-wave passes through both and the changes that imposes on the pilot-wave affect the probabilities of the subsequent electron path to produce the diffraction pattern when the electron-source emits only one electron at a time. This has been emulated using bouncing oil-drops on an oil-bath, so can be visualised and tested. In the Copenhagen interpretation, the single electron magically passes through both slits and interferes with itself and has no defined path, but in the Bohm interpretation this splitting of a single particle does not happen.
Of course, in the Bohm idea we now have a wave that is vibrating in *something* so we’re explaining something by adding in something we can’t yet explain. Still, despite this I feel that it’s a nicer explanation and maybe we’ll be able to define that *something* well enough to measure the effects. It’s yet another return to the Aether theory in a way, since again we’ll have relative velocities to think about, with maybe drags and an anisotropy in space. It’s for this reason, of course, that the other explanation was chosen. I’ve mentioned this before, but since the Michelson-Morley experiment had the light-beams with the same start-point (for emission) and end-point (for interference to see the fringes) there was no chance of measuring a velocity relative to the Aether anyway. Logically, they would see no difference in effective path length (and thus fringe movements) no matter the relative velocity. The only thing that would move the fringes would be an effect on a small-enough scale relative to the arm-length so that one path was affected and the other not. A ‘drag’ or Döppler effect on a bigger scale would simply cancel out.
Now to the fun bit…. Mike McCulloch has put forward the idea that momentum is quantised here. This is one idea that’s maybe reached some sort of credence because of Shawyer’s EMDrive. It’s worth reading McCulloch’s blog to get an idea of how he’s predicting the results that will be measured and getting a good result. It seems to me that he has a point, and that maybe the quantisation of momentum is a reality. This is going to have an effect at the subatomic level and the molecular level as well as the cosmological scale he’s talking about. I haven’t spent a lot of time on this so far, but that McCulloch can explain the reason that galaxies don’t fly apart without needing to invent dark matter is a major point in favour. He’s listed the successes here. Food for thought.
I’ll leave you to explore the ideas but it needs to be said that these developments are work in progress. I think the Bohm explanation needs more thought, since it’s been deprecated for a long time and is somewhat heretical. We need to prove the existence of that “something* that the pilot-wave moves. We also need a better demonstration of the EMDrive and maybe McCulloch’s work can also predict a better configuration for it. We need to find a way to measure the Unruh waves rather than speculate on their existence – at the moment we see effects that can be explained by them but again we don’t know what the wave exists in. What is the propagation-speed? At the moment it’s looking suspiciously like it is infinite, since otherwise the Hubble limit wouldn’t be relevant (you want to wait 14 billion years for a force to change the momentum?). Given the successes McCulloch claims, this could be the start of a revolution in science that will give us much better space-travel and maybe a lot of products that only currently exist in SF imagination. A better explanation of how the universe works has big ramifications. Whereas quantum physics gave us semiconductors and thus computers but didn’t give us a reason for the strange rules, getting the reason for the rules could give us a whole lot more. We understood before that every atom in the universe was connected in a strange and instantaneous way, but having a theory that tells us why and how will be a big change. Conservation of miracles implies that the Unruh waves and the pilot waves will vibrate the same medium and have the same propagation speed (infinite).
Explaining things we’ve already measured is nice, but we need predictions that disagree with standard theory that can then be measured. It’s how we choose which explanation is better, not whether we actually like an explanation more (though until there’s a difference between what theories predict and that is measured, choosing the more-elegant explanation is reasonable). I think the Bohm explanation and McCulloch’s ideas are elegant and also fit together, and it’d be nice if they actually work too. We really are one with everything. Things get interesting….