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A ceaseless exchange?

  1. Oct 23, 2005 #1
    I noticed someone posted on the internet (not on PF of course!) a largely senseless attack on science which contains a discussion of quantum mechanics and the view that neutrons change into protons and protons into neutrons in what they called a ceaseless exchange of identity.

    I think it's wrong but I thought of the exchange of mesons, and began to wonder whether it is an acceptable, if unusual, exposition of quantum mechanics.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 24, 2005 #2
    more info: Heisenberg's 'exchange force'

    Background info:
    The author says:

    The author has been reading B Hoffman's The strange story of the quantum, and may have picked it up from there, or may have misrepresented it from there.

    The next bit is definitely wrong: "Only in this way is the nucleus held together." At least four ways are now identified I believe. Then some more stuff that may or may not have some basis in fact: "Before a proton can be repelled by another proton, it changes into a neutron, and vice versa...it is impossible to say at any givenmoment whether a particle is a proton or a neutron. In fact it is both-it is and it is not."
  4. Oct 24, 2005 #3


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    You really should stop reading quackeries like that. It ruins your mind.

    What Heisenberg said and what this quack INTERPRETS as "this implied" are two entirely different things. How is someone able to interpret something out of ignorance of the subject matter? An "exchange" force is not the same as a "change force", which is how this joker is interpreting it.

    A neutron and proton simply can't transform into one another the way it has been described. There's clear violation of the conservation of charge (among other things). And we DO know what happens and how to detect things that have such 'sex change' issue. The neutrinos do that very well and is described by a well-formed theory. No such thing can be said in the neutron-proton switching as in here.

    There are so many important and interesting issues and discoveries in physics. One does not need to scrape the bottom of the barrel and spend time analyzing some misguided website.

  5. Oct 24, 2005 #4

    Hi ZZ!
    Thats the best answer I could have hoped for. Thanks for taking the time.

    It's not me but the others I worry about!

    I wanted to say - but was worried about not knowing enough about quantum effects - this meson exchange thing - that two hundred years ago this year John Dalton showed that the atom does not shimmy around, like Berthollet, until then the most prominent chemist, thought (in order to explain oxidation.)

    Thanks to your reply I can now add, I think: QM has advanced our understanding of the limits to what Dalton thought of as the immutable atom, beyond which it can undergo change, but QM uncertainity does not suggest that protons exchange with neutrons, as this would be against the law of the conservation of charge, amoungst other things. It is a misleading and mistaken interpretation of the theory.

    After all, is it not true that the proton has a lifetime not less than 10^31 years? The neutron decays into a proton, electron and netrino outside the atom, but within the atom is held in a tight grip.

    Do proton quarks swap around in the quantum quark soup where quarks come into existance in pairs and annihilate? As quite a different matter to the wrong idea of them swapping quarks with nearby neutrons?

    Anyway thanks again for taking the time,
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