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Cosmology, Quantum Mechanics & Consciousness Message Board › The mechanism within quantum mechanics. What actually happens?

The mechanism within quantum mechanics. What actually happens? Collapse or no collapse?

lan B.
user 10895495
London, GB
Post #: 262

I will reply to Andrew tomorrow if possible, but for now take things in order, since neither correspondent deserves an inadequately short response:

.. from someone who declares sympathy with positivism, I’m not clear whether you have made the leap from the epistemological ‘don’t know’ to the ontological ‘don’t exist’. (Just to be clear, I do understand that you have nailed your colours to the mast with respect to particulate particles.)

Good thanks for the feedback because it all goes to help minimise ambiguity.

Yes, I am indeed jumping ship from laissez-faire epistemic to strictly imprisoning ontic. Nature is full of surprises, and I subscribe to the Quine-Duhem Thesis – much beloved of post-modernist attackers of scientific realism but serving an entirely different end whenever I’m driving it – which states that the truth-claims of any theory will always be under-determined by the observational evidence. Reality is not like mathematics: that is, logically inevitable consequences are not mandated by any foundational postulates. Why? Well, the chosen postulates could simply be wrong, or, perhaps and more subtly (which is usually how things turn out!) they may turn out instead to be of insufficient generality.

As Popper averred, everything is conjectural – “All our statements are theory-laden”. (I’m on record as insisting that this principled theoretical uncertainty should have maximum generality, such that even the claim “I exist” could be viewed with sincere and informed skepticism.) This honest acknowledgement of the theory-dependence of sets of observational statements – see, positivism can be subtle – has often (willfully?) been misinterpreted as expressing the claim that all scientific knowledge is subject to the same degree of doubt, but clearly this is ridiculous. At the “cutting edge”, as in QM and all attempts made to dovetail it with GR and cosmology, we quite literally don’t know what’s going on because of the paucity of observational constraints. But (and please forgive the ensuing analogy) way down the beach, away from the ultima thule of the high-tide mark, the ground is covered by water all the time! Physical theories do not stand in splendid isolation, and so to assert that “all scientific theories are logically susceptible to the possibility of disproof” is sheer bunkum: Water will forever remain dihydrogen oxide, the Periodic Table of the Elements will remain the definitive map to the fundamentals of chemical character and no new elements will ever be found, say, ”between” lutetium (Z = 71) and hafnium (Z = 72). The Moon’s orbital dynamics will remain as they have been long measured and understood, and both the measurements of its distance and the mediating theory upon which our confidence in the accuracy of the measurements rests will not change either (or rather,the Moon's distance, secularly, will, but the rate of change of that is in turn known and understood).

.. and so it is throughout the vast bulk of claimed scientific facts, and the “low-level”, uncontroversial theories – such as Archimedes’ “theory of the lever” will simply never be found to be untrue.

(In this sense, the word “theory” simply means “map of actual or potential experience” as opposed to “unfounded speculation”—a mischievous obfuscation which, I’ve found, is often used by literalist Biblical fundamentalists.)

Of course, as said, the possibility of strict epistemological skepticism always lurks in the shadows, but the shadows aren’t really all that threatening; they’re more formal than substantial! The background epistemological doubt which permeates all experientially based truth claims is just that: impartial blanket coverage. It therefore fails to do any useful work in sorting things out. By contrast, at the scientific research frontier the skepticism which does do the work takes the methodological preamble as read, and then treats the ensuing experimental experience as actual—in the same way that one takes the other experiences of everyday life as by-and-large actual, subject to well-justified caveats founded upon the objective pull of the social other, critically observing one’s own activities.

So, low-level theories can sink so low that the dividing line between “everyday experience” and “scientific theory” soon becomes tenuously blurred. (For instance, we all “know” that the Sun doesn’t literally rise every morning, right?(?)) Hemmed in by regularities of experience, such theories resemble the correctly positioned, contiguous pieces of a partly completed jigsaw puzzle. There’s no wiggle room! Any attempts to “falsify” a single piece would throw the whole of low-level, everyday reality into deep perplexity and confusion. (Which is why IMHO claims as to the truth of alleged paranormal phenomena should never be trusted, and should always be externally invigilated in the most rigorous manner.) Within the vacant sectors of the puzzle, however, well away from the slowly spreading frontier, I might feel perfectly free to drop any randomly chosen piece anywhere, precisely because it doesn’t have other pieces nestling firmly up against it, limiting its freedom of position to just one unique value.

[ .. Continued .. ]


lan B.
user 10895495
London, GB
Post #: 263

[ .. Continued .. ]

My position can probably best be described as naïve realism, the sort of thing late Pleistocene savannah wanderers (or something) might have believed.

Right. So whenever you switch on the TV and watch David Blaine or someone and he, say, ”makes the Statue of Liberty disappear”, you accept that statement at face-value, right?

(Yeah, yeah!)


I prefer to think of myself as a thoroughly modern pre-Socratic;

Well they were certainly preferable to the relative dross who were to follow. That sterling anticipator of Galileo, Democritus, was of course one of them, anticipating the crucial primary/secondary quality distinction which you might remember is IMHO essential to bear in my mind in mounting any effective scientific attack on the problem of consciousness. (Wiki):

The knowledge of truth according to Democritus is difficult, since the perception through the senses is subjective. As from the same senses derive different impressions for each individual, then through the sense-impressions we cannot judge the truth. We can only interpret the sense data through the intellect and grasp the truth, because the truth (aletheia) is at the bottom (en bythoe).
“And again, many of the other animals receive impressions contrary to ours; and even to the senses of each individual, things do not always seem the same. Which then, of these impressions are true and which are false is not obvious; for the one set is no more true than the other, but both are alike. And this is why Democritus, at any rate, says that either there is no truth or to us at least it is not evident.”[32]
“Democritus says: By convention hot, by convention cold, but in reality atoms and void, and also in reality we know nothing, since the truth is at bottom.”[33]
There are two kinds of knowing, the one he calls “legitimate” (gnesie: genuine) and the other “bastard” (skotie: obscure). The “bastard” knowledge is concerned with the perception through the senses, therefore it is insufficient and subjective. The reason is that the sense-perception is due to the effluences of the atoms (aporroai) from the objects to the senses. When these different shapes of atoms come to us, they stimulate our senses according to their shape, and our sense-impressions arise from those stimulations.[34]
The second sort of knowledge, the “legitimate” one, can be achieved through the intellect, in other words, all the sense-data from the “bastard” must be elaborated through reasoning. In this way one can get away from the false perception of the “bastard” knowledge and grasp the truth through the inductive reasoning. After taking into account the sense-impressions, one can examine the causes of the appearances, draw conclusions about the laws that govern the appearances, and discover the causality (aetiologia) by which they are related. This is the procedure of thought from the parts to the whole or else from the apparent to non-apparent (inductive reasoning). This is one example of why Democritus is considered to be an early scientific thinker. The process is reminiscent of that by which science gathers its conclusions.


..All of which clearly also anticipates Hobbes’/Hume’s/Kant’s distinction between synthetic and analytic propositions, respectively.
lan B.
user 10895495
London, GB
Post #: 264

[ .. Continued .. ]

I can’t help thinking that there is some ‘substance’ in which properties, mass, spin, charge, you name it inhere. It is this substance that I take you to deny.

What I am asserting is that there are states of affairs in the world. The world is the set of all existents, for starters. This would be true in the world in which solipsism is true and in which I/my percepts am/are the unique existent. It still would be the case that my existence is the case. The state of affairs would be actual and not conjectural. (Although, of course, “I” could never know that!)

All worlds are defined by what they allow to exist, and what they do not. To be merely sensorily active is to occupy some world.

Thus, however it is to be interpreted, the world contains that which is the case—dreams, hallucinations, and the like, along with all the rest!

Thus some physicist might be mistaken in his assignation of some existence-claim on the basis of allegedly consistent sets of measurements, but if accurate then those measurements are of world-parts!

Does all the foregoing adequately address your metaphysical worry, Will? It is as you appreciate genuinely impossible to be less long-winded yet supply an adequate response in the circumstances.


That being so, I will have to concede that I can’t prove it, it is after all only the measurables that are measurable, but I am genuinely interested in whether you have a physical model of, well, stuff.

I think I take your point about God. And I’m with you up to here:

>(Which statement is of course not to be construed as denying that QM is essentially about discrete transactions; transactions which, because of their discreteness,

but this:

>defy the naturally, otherwise-to-be-inferred, underlying, "take care of itself" mechanism of continuity of motion which belongs to the assumption-set of classical physics, once some state of motion relative to the observer-frame has been established by the application of some force at some time or other.)

Isn’t it difficult enough in English?

Sorry I must be a bit thick. Care to elaborate?

>After all, what causal or epistemic role could -- in principle -- any putative "entity" serve if it is in-principle undetectable, because quite apart from anything else, undetectability trivially follows from the condition of complete causal isolation from the rest of reality.

Which, I grant you, is an epistemic no-brainer, but I wouldn’t claim that anything is in principle undetectable unless:

>To put it bluntly: If it don't exist, then "it" as sure as hell isn't going to be detectable in principle, no matter how hard you look!

Goes without saying.

I do hope we can find something to have a blazing row about.

Give it time!



A former member
Post #: 52
will reply to Andrew tomorrow if possible, but for now take things in order, since neither correspondent deserves an inadequately short response:

>.. from someone who declares sympathy with positivism, I’m not clear whether you have made the leap from the epistemological ‘don’t know’ to the ontological ‘don’t exist’. (Just to be clear, I do understand that you have nailed your colours to the mast with respect to particulate particles.)
Good thanks for the feedback because it all goes to help minimise ambiguity.
Not nearly as much as clarity. I would much prefer an adequately short response and from what he has said in the past, I rather think Andrew would too.

Yes, I am indeed jumping ship from laissez-faire epistemic to strictly imprisoning ontic. Nature is full of surprises, and I subscribe to the Quine-Duhem Thesis – much beloved of post-modernist attackers of scientific realism but serving an entirely different end whenever I’m driving it – which states that the truth-claims of any theory will always be under-determined by the observational evidence
.
That’s the problem with induction then. (For anyone else who is already struggling, this just means that no amount of evidence will prove a theory.)
Reality is not like mathematics: that is, logically inevitable consequences are not mandated by any foundational postulates. Why? Well, the chosen postulates could simply be wrong,
Of course. Don’t get this bit:
or, perhaps and more subtly (which is usually how things turn out!) they may turn out instead to be of insufficient generality.


As Popper averred, everything is conjectural – “All our statements are theory-laden”. (I’m on record as insisting that this principled theoretical uncertainty should have maximum generality, such that even the claim “I exist” could be viewed with sincere and informed skepticism.)
And I’m on record as saying I know.
This honest acknowledgement of the theory-dependence of sets of observational statements – see, positivism can be subtle – has often (willfully?) been misinterpreted as expressing the claim that all scientific knowledge is subject to the same degree of doubt, but clearly this is ridiculous.
Absolutely.
At the “cutting edge”, as in QM and all attempts made to dovetail it with GR and cosmology, we quite literally don’t know what’s going on because of the paucity of observational constraints.
Ah! This is interesting; I don’t mean to put words into anyone’s mouth, but I understand Andrew to believe that perceptual models of quantum states are impossible to generate, from which I take it to follow that, even with some ‘eye of God’, there is nothing to see. I assumed you felt likewise; apologies to one or both if this is not so. (Incidentally, I don’t think you mean ‘the paucity of observational constraints’.)
But (and please forgive the ensuing analogy) way down the beach, away from the ultima thule of the high-tide mark, the ground is covered by water all the time! Physical theories do not stand in splendid isolation, and so to assert that “all scientific theories are logically susceptible to the possibility of disproof” is sheer bunkum:
You’ve already made this point.
Water will forever remain dihydrogen oxide, the Periodic Table of the Elements will remain the definitive map to the fundamentals of chemical character and no new elements will ever be found, say, ”between” lutetium (Z = 71) and hafnium (Z = 72). The Moon’s orbital dynamics will remain as they have been long measured and understood, and both the measurements of its distance and the mediating theory upon which our confidence in the accuracy of the measurements rests will not change either (or rather,the Moon's distance, secularly, will, but the rate of change of that is in turn known and understood).

.. and so it is throughout the vast bulk of claimed scientific facts, and the “low-level”, uncontroversial theories – such as Archimedes’ “theory of the lever” will simply never be found to be untrue.


I quite agree.

(In this sense, the word “theory” simply means “map of actual or potential experience” as opposed to “unfounded speculation”—a mischievous obfuscation which, I’ve found, is often used by literalist Biblical fundamentalists.)
I like that bit and can see myself forgetting that I didn’t think of it quite soon.
Of course, as said, the possibility of strict epistemological skepticism always lurks in the shadows, but the shadows aren’t really all that threatening; they’re more formal than substantial! The background epistemological doubt which permeates all experientially based truth claims is just that: impartial blanket coverage. It therefore fails to do any useful work in sorting things out.
Yep.
By contrast, at the scientific research frontier the skepticism which does do the work takes the methodological preamble as read, and then treats the ensuing experimental experience as actual—in the same way that one takes the other experiences of everyday life as by-and-large actual, subject to well-justified caveats founded upon the objective pull of the social other, critically observing one’s own activities.
Which is somewhere between naïve realism and not so naïve realism.

So, low-level theories can sink so low that the dividing line between “everyday experience” and “scientific theory” soon becomes tenuously blurred.
Ian Buxton, stop it! It is not ‘tenuously blurred’, it’s just blurred.
(For instance, we all “know” that the Sun doesn’t literally rise every morning, right?(?)) Hemmed in by regularities of experience, such theories resemble the correctly positioned, contiguous pieces of a partly completed jigsaw puzzle. There’s no wiggle room! Any attempts to “falsify” a single piece would throw the whole of low-level, everyday reality into deep perplexity and confusion. (Which is why IMHO claims as to the truth of alleged paranormal phenomena should never be trusted, and should always be externally invigilated in the most rigorous manner.)
Or laughed at mercilessly or politely ignored depending on your mood.
Within the vacant sectors of the puzzle, however, well away from the slowly spreading frontier, I might feel perfectly free to drop any randomly chosen piece anywhere, precisely because it doesn’t have other pieces nestling firmly up against it, limiting its freedom of position to just one unique value.

Well, yes, provided it is in keeping with what we think the finished picture will look like.
A former member
Post #: 53
[ .. Continued .. ]

My position can probably best be described as naïve realism, the sort of thing late Pleistocene savannah wanderers (or something) might have believed.

Right. So whenever you switch on the TV and watch David Blaine or someone and he, say, ”makes the Statue of Liberty disappear”, you accept that statement at face-value, right?

(Yeah, yeah!)

Now, now Ian, you are conflating naivety and naïve realism. It’s not a very flattering adjective, but it seems to me that the best explanation for the appearance of a world is that a world exists pretty much as it appears, subject to the considerations that Democritus raised all those years ago.

..All of which clearly also anticipates Hobbes’/Hume’s/Kant’s distinction between synthetic and analytic propositions, respectively.
And we’re back to physics contra maths again.

What I am asserting is that there are states of affairs in the world. The world is the set of all existents, for starters. This would be true in the world in which solipsism is true and in which I/my percepts am/are the unique existent. It still would be the case that my existence is the case. The state of affairs would be actual and not conjectural. (Although, of course, “I” could never know that!)

So:
1. The world is all that is the case
1.1 It is the collection of things not facts.
Perhaps you can sense my confusion.

All worlds are defined by what they allow to exist, and what they do not. To be merely sensorily active is to occupy some world.

Cogito.

Thus, however it is to be interpreted, the world contains that which is the case—dreams, hallucinations, and the like, along with all the rest!

Yeah, but it’s still probably pretty much what it looks like.

Thus some physicist might be mistaken in his assignation of some existence-claim on the basis of allegedly consistent sets of measurements, but if accurate then those measurements are of world-parts!

Evil daemon.

Does all the foregoing adequately address your metaphysical worry, Will? It is as you appreciate genuinely impossible to be less long-winded yet supply an adequate response in the circumstances.

Bingo! I disagree.

Andrew, thank you for your post, I will get round to it, but frankly I’m exhausted.
lan B.
user 10895495
London, GB
Post #: 265

[Andrew, sorry, I will get back to your posting.]

Will:

>Yes, I am indeed jumping ship from laissez-faire epistemic to strictly imprisoning ontic. Nature is full of surprises, and I subscribe to the Quine-Duhem Thesis – much beloved of post-modernist attackers of scientific realism but serving an entirely different end whenever I’m driving it – which states that the truth-claims of any theory will always be under-determined by the observational evidence.


That’s the problem with induction then. (For anyone else who is already struggling, this just means that no amount of evidence will prove a theory.)

Well it’s not quite, although there is a connection. I take it to be asserting that whatever evidence is accurately amassed, such evidence will always be compatible with a dwindling infinity of families of theories. (Popper examines this property at satisfying length.)

Don’t get this bit:

>or, perhaps and more subtly (which is usually how things turn out!) they may turn out instead to be of insufficient generality.

I’m just recapitulating the history of physics, really! Our terrestrially bound, friction-imbued experience was shown to be a limiting case of Newtonian mechanics during the 17th and 18th centuries, and the 19th century fin-de-siècle and ensuing 3 decades saw, firstly, Newtonian mechanics sans gravity subsumed as a limiting case of SR, and then gravity itself was accounted for as SR in turn became a limiting case of GR. Newtonian mechanics also became seen as a limiting case in a completely different sense – but of QM this time! (Newtonian mechanics has in a sense been “split” as well as assimilated, due to the continuing lack of complete compatibility between GR and QM.)

>As Popper averred, everything is conjectural – “All our statements are theory-laden”. (I’m on record as insisting that this principled theoretical uncertainty should have maximum generality, such that even the claim “I exist” could be viewed with sincere and informed skepticism.)


And I’m on record as saying I know.

It’s sometimes essential to refresh readers of salient points which despite prior familiarisation can be more richly interpreted within newer contexts.

>At the “cutting edge”, as in QM and all attempts made to dovetail it with GR and cosmology, we quite literally don’t know what’s going on because of the paucity of observational constraints.


Ah! This is interesting; I don’t mean to put words into anyone’s mouth, but I understand Andrew to believe that perceptual models of quantum states are impossible to generate, from which I take it to follow that, even with some ‘eye of God’, there is nothing to see. I assumed you felt likewise; apologies to one or both if this is not so. (Incidentally, I don’t think you mean ‘the paucity of observational constraints’.)

No. Thank you. I don’t. Keenly spotted! (Stream-of-consciousness writing and all that!) Clearly non-locality cannot be imagistically represented, because we’re conditioned to seeing “things happening” in exclusively causal terms. Non-locality furnishes a complement to causality. That is, although it won’t permit the propagation of any signal from one part of the system of interest to some other part, there are still correlations between such spacelike-separated regions which cannot be accounted for in causal terms. (And, clearly, the “no-particle” if true condition cannot be interpreted visually either!)

But (and please forgive the ensuing analogy) way down the beach, away from the ultima thule of the high-tide mark, the ground is covered by water all the time! Physical theories do not stand in splendid isolation, and so to assert that “all scientific theories are logically susceptible to the possibility of disproof” is sheer bunkum:


You’ve already made this point.

Yes but I am trying to embed it in-contexts by means of analogy. The revisitation of some already scantily touched-upon point is a legitimate pedagogical device, you know!

>(In this sense, the word “theory” simply means “map of actual or potential experience” as opposed to “unfounded speculation”—a mischievous obfuscation which, I’ve found, is often used by literalist Biblical fundamentalists.)


I like that bit and can see myself forgetting that I didn’t think of it quite soon.

That’s quite alright. I only resent plagiarism when it’s perpetrated by charlatans, because in such cases I end up being misrepresented!

>Of course, as said, the possibility of strict epistemological skepticism always lurks in the shadows, but the shadows aren’t really all that threatening; they’re more formal than substantial! The background epistemological doubt which permeates all experientially based truth claims is just that: impartial blanket coverage. It therefore fails to do any useful work in sorting things out.


Yep.

>By contrast, at the scientific research frontier the skepticism which does do the work takes the methodological preamble as read, and then treats the ensuing experimental experience as actual—in the same way that one takes the other experiences of everyday life as by-and-large actual, subject to well-justified caveats founded upon the objective pull of the social other, critically observing one’s own activities.

Which is somewhere between naïve realism and not so naïve realism.

No, it’s metaphysically uncommitted. Criticism is simply an essential socially mediated intellectual process, irrespective of the flavour of one’s pet ontology.

BTW your position sounds less to be pejorated by labelling it, alternatively, direct realism.

>So, low-level theories can sink so low that the dividing line between “everyday experience” and “scientific theory” soon becomes tenuously blurred.


Ian Buxton, stop it! It is not ‘tenuously blurred’, it’s just blurred.

(Sorry. Forgive my clumsy attempts at poesy.)

>(For instance, we all “know” that the Sun doesn’t literally rise every morning, right?(?)) Hemmed in by regularities of experience, such theories resemble the correctly positioned, contiguous pieces of a partly completed jigsaw puzzle. There’s no wiggle room! Any attempts to “falsify” a single piece would throw the whole of low-level, everyday reality into deep perplexity and confusion. (Which is why IMHO claims as to the truth of alleged paranormal phenomena should never be trusted, and should always be externally invigilated in the most rigorous manner.)


Or laughed at mercilessly or politely ignored depending on your mood.

Even arrant nutters should be allowed a fair crack of the whip, otherwise we become tarred as intellectual imperialists!
lan B.
user 10895495
London, GB
Post #: 266

[ .. Continued .. ]

My position can probably best be described as naïve realism, the sort of thing late Pleistocene savannah wanderers (or something) might have believed.

>Right. So whenever you switch on the TV and watch David Blaine or someone and he, say, ”makes the Statue of Liberty disappear”, you accept that statement at face-value, right?

>(Yeah, yeah!)


Now, now Ian, you are conflating naivety and naïve realism.

No I’m not. Most flavours of direct realism for instance ignore the primary/secondary distinction, but I seem to remember – correct me if I’m wrong – your acceptance of the distinction at at least one point during one of the “Consciousness” threads.

It’s not a very flattering adjective, but it seems to me that the best explanation for the appearance of a world is that a world exists pretty much as it appears, subject to the considerations that Democritus raised all those years ago.

I.e. subject to an infinite number of qualifications stemming from scientific quarters!

> .. All of which clearly also anticipates Hobbes’/Hume’s/Kant’s distinction between synthetic and analytic propositions, respectively.


And we’re back to physics contra maths again.

More generally, we’re (respectively) back to interpretation-of-experience versus formal schema, once again!

>What I am asserting is that there are states of affairs in the world. The world is the set of all existents, for starters. This would be true in the world in which solipsism is true and in which I/my percepts am/are the unique existent. It still would be the case that my existence is the case. The state of affairs would be actual and not conjectural. (Although, of course, “I” could never know that!)


So:
1. The world is all that is the case

Yes (but not in Wittgenstein’s sense.)

1.1 It is the collection of things not facts.

No. It is the collection of states of affairs.

(“A thing” in my book is a limiting case of “a state of affairs”.)


Perhaps you can sense my confusion.

No longer (!)

>All worlds are defined by what they allow to exist, and what they do not. To be merely sensorily active is to occupy some world.


Cogito.

No. I’m not drawing any inferences; I’m establishing a definition.

>Thus, however it is to be interpreted, the world contains that which is the case—dreams, hallucinations, and the like, along with all the rest!


Yeah, but it’s still probably pretty much what it looks like.

Sorry,that’s hopelessly vague. What (for instance) about the primary/secondary quality distinction?

>Thus some physicist might be mistaken in his assignation of some existence-claim on the basis of allegedly consistent sets of measurements, but if accurate then those measurements are of world-parts!


Evil daemon.

I’m not denying the logical possibility of mistakenness.

>Does all the foregoing adequately address your metaphysical worry, Will? It is as you appreciate genuinely impossible to be less long-winded yet supply an adequate response in the circumstances.


Bingo! I disagree.
A former member
Post #: 54
Or, we could try to find something to agree about. Maybe I should suspend, temporarily, my attacks on Ian.

You could, but there is no greater stimulus to physical or conceptual evolution than stress. Given that Ian both enjoys a ruck and wishes to develop his ideas I don’t believe he would thank you.

What about the following line of thought?

A photon is both wave-like and particle-like. It is not 'one or the other'; a photon is 'one and the other'. The photon can be called a real particle both when it is emitted from an atom (or an electron) and when it is absorbed by another atom or electron.


My question would be: at what point is a photon ‘one and the other’ and how long for? Is absorption/emission a phase change?

The physical events of the real world are all composed of such particle-like phenomena. We do not see quantum waves, we only infer them. But in between the emission event and the absorption event a single photon has the character of wave, not particle.

The more I think about it, the more I think Ian has a point. When we ‘see’ a photon, what we in fact ‘see’ is the excitation of an electron. This only (reliably) happens when ‘photons’ are focused, by the lens in our eye, parabolic dishes, pin-holes or, as in Young’s experiment, two slits.

A single photon particle cannot be measured, observed or detected by any means whatsoever whilst in transit (since otherwise the absorption event would have occurred sooner, at the detection event).

I think someone has actually managed to do this; something to do with making an atom wobble as it passes, I believe. Ian’ll know.

Therefore, by definition of what is real (for this purpose at least) the photon does not exist as a particle between the two events, it is real only at those two events of emission and absorption. A photon is the sum of its aspects, it starts off localised, then becomes de-localised throughout space, then becomes localised again. That is what photon does and what it is.

As I understand it a photon starts off as an electron in lane eight of the running track (excuse the clumsy classical description). It sheds some weight and ‘leaps’ to a tighter circuit. The surplus energy dissipates as a wave in the usual inverse square style unless it is made to behave more like a particle by being focused at source, thus becoming a photon.

In contrast, and to emphasise the difference, we have the wrong idea when we imagine a photon flying along, choosing how to pass through two slits and then reaching its target and making an impact. That is a human-scale picture of a classical particle and it is definitely wrong. Photons are never seen flying through space heading for a target. Photons are definitely not classical particles.

I agree.

A photon has no reality without both emission and absorption events. It is clearly a very symmetrical entity and requires both events for its existence.

Well, yes; if you define a photon so. What is an emission event that isn’t absorbed?

I’m going to have to leave it there for now, I particularly like the look of implication 4. It does rather make a nonsense of my earlier assessment of your view.
A former member
Post #: 165
Thank you, Will, for those comments. So let me push on with that idea that a photon is substantially symmetric as between its emission and absorption events. That would imply symmetry between the underlying hidden mechanisms, whatever they may be, for wave appearance and wave collapse.   It is well known that radioactive decay is substantially if not absolutely independent of its environment. Likewise the probability of a photon emission from an atom does not depend on whether the atom is miles away from its nearest neighbour or is squashed together with masses of other stuff. These  emission phenomena are independent of the environment. Symmetry is a fundamental principle of modern physics and it would be odd if such basic entities as photons behaved in grossly unsymmetrical ways between emission and absorption. It is therefore fair to conclude, is it not, that photon absorption is actual wave collapse and is not a form of decoherence into the absorber environment.

A few weeks ago I put a question to Ian which he has not answered. I asked if he believed in wave collapse or no collapse or lots of little collapses. The above argument provides the answer. Schrodinger's cat made the transition from alive state to dead state (if the poison device activated) NOT by splitting into different versions both dead and alive, NOT by decohering into 99.99999.........9% alive state and 0.00000.....1% dead state, but by becoming 100% classically dead via zillions of tiny actual wave collapses at the quantum level. This, I think, is what the Many Histories interpretation asserts, though that interpretation of quantum physics is merely an elaboration of Copenhagen and does not adequately explain wave collapse at the fundamental level. There is clearly more to be explained and understood.

But my answer to Ian's question is definite, based on the above reasoning: wave collapse is not just a bit of mathematics, it is a real physical phenomenon at all levels. 
A former member
Post #: 55
As far as I can tell what your model of wave collapse means is, for example, there is an electron in an orbit that requires a particular energy to sustain. For reasons we don’t quite understand it jumps to another, less energetic orbit and the surplus energy is spat out as a photon. At this point the photon is a real (coherent) entity. It disintegrates (decoheres) into a wave function, which is the mysterious bit; the photon could be anywhere in the universe. At some later point, determined by the time it would have taken to get there travelling the shortest distance at c. the photon appears at another electron which absorbs it and jumps to a more energetic orbit. If I understand you correctly Andrew, it is this type of process that defines a photon.

If I understand Ian correctly, at no point is there an actual photon. The electron jumps and the energy is spat straight out as a wave function. To confuse matters, it is the wave function that is coherent and when it arrives it decoheres (collapses) into a bit more energy which makes an electron jump in a broadly symmetrical way, although I don’t think there is any insistence that the wave function has to decohere in order that it cohered in the first place.

I don’t mean to make either version sound like a parody, it’s just a funny old world whatever the truth. Of the two I’m more inclined to Ian’s for it’s parsimony, but without a medium a wave function is just a mathematical entity.

One of the holy cows of 20th century physics is that there is no medium through which photons travel, Michelson-Morley says so. If you ignore that, I think it is possible to imagistically represent (Buxton!) non locality. It’s only a model, of course, but I imagine something inflaton like popping into existence out of nothing; in effect a single repulsive force much as Faraday would have recognised, it is a ‘field-like’ entity with one simple quality, it gets bigger. It works a bit like the magic porridge pot, the stuff just keeps coming and even today there is no stopping it. The way I see it is that in the early moments any point in the field is much the same as the original big-bang-a-thing; it's a little bit of it and it behaves in the same way, but any such point is surrounded by identical points desperately trying to get much bigger very quickly.

The field isn't quantized (at first) it's smooth and it pushes against itself, but with every point pushing against every other, some of the swirls and eddies get tangled in knots, a bit like Kelvin proposed. What you end up with is a kind of quantum foam dotted with little tangled bits.

With regard to non-locality, if for some reason a tangled bit becomes untangled the extra field creates pressure which is felt across the entire universe, somewhere the conditions are just so and the knot is retied relieving the pressure, collapsing the wave, decohering. Given how pressure decreases with distance, the most likely place for a knot to reappear is not very far from where it untied. It does seem though, that given the right kick, the untangled knot can be sent in a particular direction, massively increasing the likelihood that it will tie itself up again on the flight path, especially if someone puts a bit of matter in the way.

Anyway, that’s quantum mechanics for you. It also works quite well with relativity, with dark matter and dark energy thrown in. The reason an interferometer doesn’t notice any movement in this model is that it, like everything else, is generating it’s own field and it is this the ‘photons’ have to negotiate. It’s almost as though Fred Hoyle was right, but for the wrong reasons.

I suspect part of the reason that Ian hasn’t answered your question of a few weeks ago is confirmation bias, he’s most interested in the bits that add weight to his own arguments, frankly who isn’t? I loved the opening sentences to your post: Thank you, Will, for those comments. So let me push on with that idea (yours!) that a photon is substantially symmetric as between its emission and absorption events.

No offence meant and none taken and I hope some of what I have said has helped you clarify your own ideas.
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