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Ohan Prins of the University of Pretoria

  1. Mar 14, 2006 #1
    So I'm reading this article, where Johan Prins of the University of Pretoria argues that renormalization is unnecessary if you treat electrons as nothing more than waves. Rather than model electrons as having attributes or behaviors of particles, he says they should be modeled as a "holistic wave that occupies space."

    He says things such as "the uncertainties describe the size of the wave in position and wave-vector spaces. These sizes can morph instantaneously when the boundary conditions change. Furthermore, a photon can merge with such a wave [entangle] to form another electron-wave with a higher energy. It is such instantaneous entanglement that corresponds to a quantum jump.” So, according to Prins, an electron is a wave; not a particle, or even a particle with wave-duality. “There are only waves which can instantaneously morph to occupy a large space [delocalize] or a smaller space [localize] and then act as if it is a particle owing to Gauss' law being applicable.”

    Prins claims that Heisenberg was in fact wrong, as “it is possible to visualize what is happening on the quantum scale and this visualization also defines the interface between quantum mechanics and classical mechanics. They are both valid within their respective domains. Quantum mechanics does not encompass classical mechanics as has been believed all these years.” This latter point highlights again the fact that Prins is not claiming that there is anything wrong with quantum mechanical theory, only that what is being measured needs to be reconsidered. “In terms of waves, quantum mechanics is a complete theory, which seems to neatly mesh with classical mechanics and most probably also with the general theory of relativity. It is that electrons are not modeled on waves that constitutes the crisis in physics,” he added.

    Prins maintains that his theory offers a better model of reality; “because, once accepted, one finds plausible explanations for many of the outstanding problems in physics; for example, why ‘particles’ can diffract; why the so-called nuclear forces are not separate forces, but can be explained in terms of the same mechanism responsible for covalent bonding; why the cosmic background radiation is fairly uniform; the possible nature of dark energy; the possible nature of dark mass; why mass is energy etc. Nature is not random; it is causal, just like Einstein always wanted. In terms of my interpretation everything that occurs has a cause; once it is analyzed in terms of waves.”


    Although I am intrigued by the idea, it's striking me as missing something important. The problem is, I can't figure out what it is that's sounding false. Ignoring the other controversial (to be generous) things this guy has said in the past, just trying to identify why this particular idea is setting off my B.S. alarm.

    What do you think?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 14, 2006 #2

    CarlB

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    The idea that electrons should be considered waves instead of particles isn't so out of the ordinary, I think. The problem comes when you try to analyze situations with more than one electron. In other words, if electrons are just waves, then why do they "quantize", that is, why do they appeat one, two, three at a time instead of arbitrary amounts.

    I'd love to see more on this, but I could find no articles on Arxiv, and no websites.

    Prins works in diamond surface physics, for example:
    http://www.scienceagogo.com/news/renormalization.shtml

    It appears that he is an "honorary professor" at the University of Pretoria, where he isn't listed in the Physics department, but did author at least one paper in their list of papers. The oldest paper I could find from him was around 1989 or so. I'm going to make a wild guess that he's retired.

    One thing that one notices is that people who work in stuff that requires physics, but are not in the foundations of it, seem to frequently have different ways of looking at some of the foundation issues. I kind of wonder if his work in surfaces used density matrix forms instead of wave functions.

    My feeling on this, and a lot of other fringe work on quantum mechanics, is "where's the beef". If a theory is an advance, it should allow some sort of calculation that is missing in the standard model. I don't see that coming from Prins, at least in the very limited write-up shown above. Of course I don't see that coming from the string theorists either, and there's a lot more of them.

    Carl
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2006
  4. Mar 15, 2006 #3

    DaveC426913

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    The other thing wrong with the "only waves" idea is that electrons exhibit properties that cannot be expalined by wave phenomena.

    For example, waves must have a medium though which to travel. How can a wave travel through a vacuum? Unless you're proposing to rekindle the aether?
     
  5. Mar 15, 2006 #4

    CarlB

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    It's well known that Lorentz's ether theory, sometimes called "LET", or "Lorentz-Poincare Ether Theory", or various others, produces predictions identical to Einstein's special relativity. It's been the subject of a lot of papers on Arxiv.org which I invite you to read.

    Here are some things my search found, not all of which are likely appropriate:


    J. Reignier
    http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0008229

    Mayeul Arminjon
    http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0401021
    http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0404103

    Eric Baird
    http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0010074

    C. M. L. de Aragao, M. Consoli, A. Grillo
    http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0507048
    http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0406065
    http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0311576
    http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0311054

    Alexander L. Kholmetskii
    http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0501060

    Ilja Schmelzer
    http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0209167
    http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/9811073

    Norbert Feist
    http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0104059

    Wang Guowen
    http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0512036

    The first of the above is a history, some of the others meet my definition of "crank", but then again, my website made "crank of the day" at www.crank.net a few weeks ago. What you may find interesting is the fairly large number of people willing to believe this sort of thing, many of whom have fairly recent access to arxiv.org. But there should be no doubt that ether theories are compatible with special relativity. For example, a quote from Eric Baird's article:

    "Although this paper is intended to be about recognisably “non-SR” models, we should also mention that there are a range of “Lorentzian” aether models that also incorporate timedilation effects (see e.g. [38]-[40] and many articles in dissident journals). Many of these models only predict small or non-existent deviations from special relativity. Where they agree exactly, the special theory is usually assumed to be preferable because of its reduced number of physical assumptions."

    References 38-40 are:

    Herman Erlichson, “The Rod Contraction-Clock Retardation Ether Theory and the Special Theory of Relativity,”
    Am.J.Phys. 41 1068-1077 (1973).

    J.P. Cedarholm and C.H. Townes, “A new experimental test of special relativity,” Nature 184 1350-1351 (1959)

    Reza Mansouri and Roman U. Sexl, “A Test Theory of Special Relativity: II. First Order Tests,” Gen.Rel. and Gravitation 8 515-524 (1977)

    Carl
     
  6. Mar 15, 2006 #5

    Hurkyl

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    The same way a particle can travel through a vacuum: it just does.

    A more appropriate question to ask, I think, is why you think a wave can't travel through a vacuum.
     
  7. Mar 15, 2006 #6

    DaveC426913

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    Oh there are certainly theories. My question is: are you proposing that an aether theory is the solution to your questions? Because I'm not.

    And if neither of us are, then we're back to "How can a wave travel through a vacuum?"
     
  8. Mar 15, 2006 #7

    DaveC426913

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    You're being silly.:rolleyes:
     
  9. Mar 15, 2006 #8

    Hurkyl

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    Actually, no I'm not. I really and truly don't understand the problem people have with waves propagating through a vacuum -- I can't see why people feel "wave" must refer to oscillating displacements in a collection of molecules, such as a sound wave or a water wave... and I can't think of any other reason why someone would object to the notion.
     
  10. Mar 15, 2006 #9

    DaveC426913

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    Because that's the definition of a wave.

    A wave is not an object, it is a description of the motion of an object(s). No object(s), no motion.
     
  11. Mar 15, 2006 #10

    Hurkyl

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    And I would disagree. But it's just semantics. If you insist on this being the definition of a wave, then EM doesn't speak about waves -- it speaks about physical quantities that do things like oscillate back and forth, propagate through space, and obey the wave equation. In other words, things that behave exactly like waves, except for the fact they don't have a medium.
     
  12. Mar 15, 2006 #11

    DaveC426913

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    You're right, it is just semantics - there's the agreed-upon definition and there's the new, improved, Hurkylized definition. How does reinventing definitions of existing words help the OP?

    If you have a theory beyond "it just does" about how a wave can propogate through a vacuum, that's great, otherwise you're not helping the OP.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2006
  13. Mar 15, 2006 #12

    Hurkyl

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    The Hurkylized definition is only for those who don't like the word "wave" in "electromagnetic wave". :tongue2:

    I'm not really sure how suggesting to the OP that waves can't travel through a vacuum was helpful either... as far as I can tell, the usage of "wave" in the OP is clearly not referring to mechanical waves.

    In other words, if you prefer the word "wave" to refer to mechanical waves, then the OP was speaking about "Hurkylized" waves.
     
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