Henry H. Lindner
The conceptual mess which is called "Quantum Theory" is a perfect example of the inadequacy of Science. Contradictions are accepted and even celebrated as "paradoxes". Philosophy, however, demands that we replace contradictory and inadequate theories with better theories. What follows is an exposure of the contradictions in Quantum Theory and a simple non-contradictory theory of light and electrons that can explain the data and eliminate the "paradoxes".
Quantum theory is subjectivistic--a mathematical treatment of observed events without and reference to or any attempt to explain physical reality or physical causes. (See Philosophy over Science) Therefore quantum theorists should never attempt to explain anything. They should not admit the existence of any Cosmos that requires explanation. They should not speak of waves or photons, but only of the probability of an "event" occurring in the human sensorium. But few humans are, or can be consistent subjectivists. Quantum theorists thus are in the impossible position of adhering to a subjectivistic doctrine and yet trying to explain what's happening in the physical Cosmos. So instead of creating a coherent theory of the causes of events, they have ascribed physical existence to their calculational tool, the photon. Having denied that light is a wave in a physical space, they try to "explain" all phenomena as "caused" by particles flying through a void. They have returned to the ancient theory of Atomism--of particles and the void. They adhere to a simplistic "Four forces" theory in which each force is due to the "exchange" of "virtual" particles. These force-particles, like the photon itself, have never been observed flying through the void; nor do they make any physical sense. How can an "exchange" of particles produce both attraction and repulsion? How can a void create inertia? How can flying gravitons produce gravity and inertia? Why can't particles move through the void with infinite velocity?1 Atomism doesn't work. It is inconsistent with Newtonian mechanics and GR which require a physical space. Quantum theorists have been forced to create ether-surrogates like "foamy" space-time, space-time loops, Cosmic strings, baby universes, parallel universes, etc. They simply have not, and cannot create a coherent theory of physical phenomena.
2. Against the Photon
To expose the central error of quantum theory we must examine the concept which has enabled physicists to ignore the physical nature of light and electrons and to treat them only as observed events. We must go to the source of quantum theory and its many paradoxes: Einstein's interpretation of the photoelectric effect. It was Einstein who revived the idea that light was composed of particles flying through the void. While the photon has been a useful instrumental concept--it works for the purpose of many calculations--it stands in the way of a comprehensive theory of all electromagnetic phenomena. The flying photon makes no physical sense. Why does the photon always move at c, regardless of its energy or the motion of its source? How can two photons exist in the same place at the same time? What can photons possibly have to do with radio waves that are many meters long? How can particles create any of the wave phenomena that we observe everyday (interference, diffraction, polarization, etc.)? Why do we use wave equations to describe the actions of point particles? How can a single photon pass through widely separated slits and interfere with itself? How can electromagnetic radiation of sub-photonic energies exist? Wave-particle duality is not an answer to these questions, it is an evasion of the contradictions produced by the inadequate photonic theory. Philosophy demands that we eliminate contradictions by creating a better theory.
From the standpoint of Philosophy, the situation is quite simple: there are abundant data that support the wave theory of light, and no data that disprove it. On the contrary, there are abundant data which contradict the particle theory of light. I submit that the usefulness of the photon as an instrumental tool is due to the fact that in quantum events, we see and measure light waves only via their interaction with electrons and other electromagnetic particles containing the electronic or positronic wave-form. This is the mechanism of our photoelectric detectors and our own eyes. However, in order to create a unified theory of electromagnetic physics we must assume that light and electrons are actual, physical waves in an electromagnetic (EM) space; that the "photon" is the quantum of electronic and positronic light-wave absorption and emission by electrons and does not characterize free radiation. The photon is thus nothing but a useful calculational device similar to the "phonon" which is used to describe acoustic-crystalline interactions. Would anyone argue that sound is composed of phonons flying through a void? The photonic theory has persisted because there are a few specific phenomena that are "difficult" to explain using our current atomistic ideas about the nature of light and electrons.
The "photon" stands in the way of a unified theory of light, particles and space. I must therefore spend some time analyzing the philosophical arguments for its existence. There are three features of the photoelectric effect that are considered inconsistent with the wave theory of light,2 and which are presented as "proof" that light consists of photons flying through a void:
1) The kinetic energy of the ejected electrons depends only on the light frequency, not on the intensity.
2) No electrons are ejected when the frequency is below the cut-off frequency, no matter how intense the radiation.
3) No time lag is observed as would be expected according to classical wave theory. Energy should be uniformly distributed over the wave front, so it should take a longer time for an electron the size of an atom to absorb energy from the wave front and be ejected.
These objections can be answered by the following wave-based theory of light and electrons:
1) An electron, bound or free, is a structure composed of circulating EM waves. It is not a particle associated with a field; it is its electric field.
2) The amplitude and spatial extension of the electron's waves are fixed by the electronic wave-structure. Therefore, its momentum is determined only by the frequency of its waves (de Broglie relation: ).
3) Because of its structure, an electron can absorb or emit EM radiation only in discrete wave quanta which are of fixed length, width (extension), and amplitude - the frequency alone is variable. Planck's constant is thus an electron-structure constant; it relates the change in an electron's momentum to the wavelength of the EM quantum absorbed or emitted.
4) When a wave-quantum is emitted by an electron, it ceases to exist qua quantum. Its EM waves spread spherically from their origin and diminish in amplitude (inverse square law) like all free EM radiation.
5) In any space, there is significant radiation (man-made, thermal, radioactive, solar, Cosmic, etc.) which, though undetected, creates an energetic EM background.
6) An absorbed quantum is always the product of the interference of source and background waves. Thus the prediction of quantum absorptions requires a probabilistic calculus.
7) The emission of a quantum is induced by the action of the chaotic background radiation upon an electron.
Thus are the objections to wave theory answered:
1) The momentum of the ejected electrons depends only on the light frequency of the absorbed waves because the length, width, and amplitude of the absorbed wave-quanta is fixed by the physical structure of the electron.
2) Increasing the intensity of the radiation increases the amplitude only. This cannot increase the energy of absorbed quanta whose amplitude is fixed by the electron's structure.
3) The energy the electron absorbs does not come from the source wave front only. The source waves interfere with abundant ambient wave-energy to induce a quantum absorption. The electron does not need to "absorb energy" from a large volume. Therefore little time lag occurs. In addition, the fact that the electron is its entire EM field implies that electrons are larger than estimated. Their boundary is the point at which their EM influence is zero. An electron bound to a hydrogen atom has been detected at a distance of several centimeters.3
These principles were illustrated in an article describing a low-light experimental setup.4 The photoelectric detectors registered dark counts even when the source was not operating (background EM). The "photons" from the source were then filtered to the intensity of one-tenth "photon" (not an indivisible particle). This EM energy was enough, even after spreading over a distance of one meter, to produce the additional photomultiplier counts needed for the experiment (interference of source EM and background).
In fact, Quantum Electrodynamics (QED), as presented by Feynman,5 is an application of wave theory; it uses Schrödinger's wave functions and wave equations. Methodologically however, QED is a only a mathematical description and prediction of observable photonic "events"--interactions of light and electrons.6 It is subjectivistic--it accounts only for what is instrumentally observed and ignores what is not observed. For QED, free EM radiation and background radiation are not observed and therefore do not exist; radiation sources produce not light but only probabilities of observable electronic absorptions. In QED, light waves become mere probability waves.7 By adding probabilities for all possible photonic paths, QED is simply accounting for the spherical spreading and interference of EM wave energy from a source. As explained above, this probabilistic method is necessitated by the unknown EM background radiation and unknown variations in the states of the emitting and receiving electrons. The location with the highest probability for a quantum absorption is where the interference of source radiation produces the highest wave-energy. If we allow that light is composed of physical waves, whether observed or not, then QED can be understood as the photoelectric application of Huygens's theory that light spreads by spherical wavelets from every portion of the wave front.8 Indeed, QED helps us to understand why light appears to travel in straight lines even though it is a spherically spreading wave.9 QED describes all aspects of light-electron interactions. Inasmuch as QED is successful, the wave theory of light is supported.
The assumption that all EM radiation is composed of waves eliminates all the paradoxes of quantum theory and eliminates the current schism between classical and quantum electromagnetics. The difference between classical and quantum electromagnetics is not the size of Planck's constant per se. Quantum electrodynamics deals specifically with the electronic/positronic absorption and emission of light and other physical phenomena involving the structure of the charge-producing electronic/positronic wave form. Classical electrodynamics deals more generally with EM fields and waves in space produced by the translational motion of charged particles.
1 Aristotle, Metaphysics,
bk. 4, ch. 3.
2 Robert Eisberg and Robert Resnick, Quantum Physics (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 1974) p. 33.
3 John Horgan, Quantum Philosophy, Scientific American 267, No. 1, p. 100 (1992).
4 Charles H. Bennett, Gilles Brassard and Artur K. Ekert, Quantum Cryptography, Scientific American 267, No. 4, p. 31 (1992).
5 Richard P. Feynman, QED (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1985).
6 Ibid., p. 14.
7 Ibid., p. 40.
8 Ibid., pp. 24, 37.
9 Ibid., p. 43.
Let me know what you think.