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Re: [Phys-L] electron location & wave function

• From: John Denker <jsd@av8n.com>
• Date: Thu, 11 Apr 2013 15:12:46 -0700

On 04/11/2013 02:39 PM, Bruce Sherwood called attention to

Art Hobson
"There are no particles, there are only fields"
http://physics.uark.edu/Hobson/pubs/05.03.AJP.pdf
http://arxiv.org/pdf/1204.4616
http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/henry.hobson.pdf

The basic
idea he reviews is that everything is fields; "there are no particles" (to
put it provocatively).

An excellent point. To me this is completely un-provocative. I've been
explaining it that way for years. I gave up on "wave/particle duality"
back when I was just a sorcerer's apprentice.

This includes explaining the outlines of QM at the most introductory level,
e.g. when talking to people whose training in physics ended with high school
physics class 50 years ago. I tell a story about two ducks on a pond.
Here it is, including diagrams:

Wave mechanics says one and one makes 0, sometimes. Wave mechanics says
one and one makes 4, sometimes. Wave mechanics says one and one makes
2 /on average/. We can see how the classical result emerges from the
quantum-mechanical result, in the appropriate limit.

At every level, introductory or not:
-- Starting with waves, I can explain how to produce something that
acts like a particle (in the appropriate limit).
-- Starting with particles, I cannot imagine how to produce something
that acts like the correct kind of wave.

It's basically the same way that physical optics turns into geometrical
optics in the appropriate limit. Waves turn into rays. Waves turn into
particles. No big deal.

As I see it, the wave representation will always be fundamental, while
any talk of particles will always be an approximation. It might be an
exceedingly good approximation, but that's all it is.