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Quantum mechanics from a universal action reservoir?

  1. Apr 27, 2006 #1

    garrett

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    Hello all,

    I have a wacky idea in a field I don't usually play in, and I would greatly appreciate feedback on it -- positive or, preferably, negative.

    The basic idea is to derive quantum mechanics -- getting the path-integral formulation, quantum partition function, and wavefunction from basic information theory and a universal action reservoir.

    I've written a few pages up on it here:

    http://interstice.com/~aglisi/stuff/qm.pdf

    It's a hand-wavy derivation, so I don't think it's publication quality. Nevertheless, I'd like to get the idea out there for others to play with. I'm not sure what to do with it. Paper airplane maybe?

    The main argument against it I see is there's no apparent physical reason why a complex action, or complex anything, is reasonable.

    Anyway, all feedback welcome. Thanks.

    -Garrett
     
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  3. Apr 28, 2006 #2

    marcus

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    I havent got any negative feedback to give, as yet. Maybe some others can work up a head of steam and blow the critical whistle.

    the most recent Lisi paper on arxiv was November 2005
    http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0511120
    Clifford bundle formulation of BF gravity generalized to the standard model
    A. Garrett Lisi

    any news about how this has fared?
    Maybe you already told us, in which case my apologies because I have forgotten.
    (my private opinion: publishable in CQG if submitted, so I'm curious to know if it's been sent around)
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2006
  4. May 8, 2006 #3

    marcus

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    I just saw this arxiv posting:

    http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0605068

    If I say congratulations someone might raise objection. Pay no heed it is simple envy:smile:

    Anyway great! Good going. The paper is so crazy it is beyond my capacity to tell whether it is crazy or not.

    I have tried to imagine this reservoir of action. It looks like Hollywood.
     
  5. May 8, 2006 #4

    marcus

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    OK let's play this straight. This is what we do. We write it down like so:

    http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0605068
    Quantum mechanics from a universal action reservoir
    A. Garrett Lisi
    4 pages

    "A heuristic derivation of quantum mechanics using information theory requires a foundational physical principle: the existence of a universal action reservoir, analogous to the energy reservoir of a canonical ensemble."

    There is something delightful about this. there was a Robert Crumb drawing of an amazed baffled man saying "Is dis a SYSTEM??" and I am sitting here scratching my head and wondering "Is dis an IDEA??"

    Maybe it is a creative idea of a good way to derive quantum mechanics. Wouldn't that be amazing? And also funny. Nobody seems to know how to derive quantum mechanics. People are riding along in the car and they are utterly clueless about why it works and what makes it go.
     
  6. May 8, 2006 #5

    garrett

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    Damn, marcus, you don't miss a trick do you. I thought this paper would sneak under your radar.

    Let me be the first to point out the three things you would have to believe for this whacky paper to be considered a valid derivation of quantum mechanics, in increasing order of unbelievability:
    1) A path integral really is a sum over paths.
    2) A complex action -- possibly related to Wick rotation -- makes sense.
    3) It is reasonable to play with complex probability distributions, as long as good predictions come out.

    If you're willing to buy those, then maybe you'll buy this crazy idea I'm selling and think about quantum mechanics in a new way. :)

    Someone, probably me, really needs to go play with the idea in the paper and work out some examples to see if it actually flies. I'll be as shocked as anyone if it really works and gives something new -- as it's a very simple idea and I would have expected it to come up long ago. (I'll bet it's been rediscovered a couple times before, but heck if I could find out where.) So I put it out there for people to toss around.
     
  7. May 8, 2006 #6

    marcus

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    garrett you are my kinda theorist :approve:

    I had to say that so I could use the "approve" smiley

    It does seem like those three propositions that we have already accepted (haven't we?) about quantum mechanics are already more preposterous than the reservoir you are proposing--which is reasonable by comparison

    Maybe it only gets more sensible from here on.

    ================

    BTW a propos your Clifford bundle paper, you may remember Matty Pavsic who visited here a while and who also was interested in building a unified theory with the Clifford algebra. I think he is at Trieste. I just saw a revision by him on arxiv in the past week.

    His latest is this
    http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0511124
    But on 5 May he revised and resubmitted this
    http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0411053
    Clifford Space as a Generalization of Spacetime: Prospects for Unification in Physics
    Matej Pavsic

    ====================
    I was just reading the yeats poem about slouching towards Bethlehem (Joan Gideon took the phrase as a title) and saw these two lines
    "The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity."

    ====================
    there has to be some journal (electronic if not paper) to which you can send your Clifford bundle paper and which would not charge exorbitantly to publish, if they liked it. there should be some journal that wants that paper and which would not charge at all, for that matter. Even if they rejected it would be good to have the rejection letter. A writer should collect rejection slips as avidly as acceptance letters. They are reminders of who gets shot when the revolution comes.
    ====================

    About the new paper, you would know better than I but I think there is a journal called Foundations of Physics. One way to find out if someone else has had the same idea might be to send the article to that journal. If they reject it, maybe they will tell you who already had the idea, if somebody did. If they publish it, who cares if somebody else had the idea first?
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2006
  8. May 9, 2006 #7

    marcus

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    I checked and did not find exactly "Foundations of Physics" but I found
    "Foundations of Physics Letters"
    http://www.springerlink.com/(3gxdhs...t&backto=linkingpublicationresults,1:105712,1

    this page has tables of contents of several years issues

    the journal is published by Dutch Springer

    I dont know if one has to pay simply to submit a paper or what indignities one has to put up with. If it is not a big hassle to send them something it might be informative to try it.
     
  9. May 9, 2006 #8

    garrett

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    Yes Marcus, there are several journals I could send papers to -- but (personally) I feel the extra work and stress isn't worth the small potential payoff. I have published in paper journals, and the feedback was not enough to warrant the effort. Most reviewers are too harried to spend significant time understanding a paper just because they've had it assigned to them -- and who could blame them? It's likely to get rejected for inane reasons or just rubber stamped and published. Also, everyone I would care to communicate with submits and reads papers on the arxiv. I'm not a normal academic, so I don't have a paper quota to fulfill -- publication in a paper journal means little to me (other than the needless death of many trees).

    That's on a personal level. On an objective level, I think the paper-journal system is antiquated. Have you ever read Paul Ginsparg's manifesto?

    http://people.ccmr.cornell.edu/~ginsparg/blurb/pg02pr.html

    I found it inspirational. As far as I recall (and I may have it wrong), he says researchers should post papers to an unmoderated forum, then others should pick the papers they like from there to make collections. Essentially, journals would be replaced by lists of preprints collected by interested parties -- having your paper selected by a respected body of collectors would grant the same prestige and readership as journal publication currently does.

    I love this idea. It seems much more efficient, fair, and pleasant. And, as an independent researcher, I try to make it a reality by submitting my papers to the arxiv exclusively, even if it costs me prestige points in the present. (I am saddened by the arxiv's growing censorship policy, which seems to counter Ginsparg's original vision. It may get bad enough to make me rethink my personal view.)

    As an esteemed librarian, perhaps you should take Ginsparg's message as an inspiration to collect short lists of arxiv papers you find especially good in the different sub-fields you're interested in? (As well as your comments on why they're good.) You seem to do this already -- maybe you could organize it better and publish them on a collection of web pages? It would be a valuable service.
     
  10. May 9, 2006 #9

    marcus

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    Ginsparg's idea seems brilliant and quite sound, in your paraphrase. I havent read his manifesto or thought about it.

    I havent quite got what it takes to fill the role of selective internet lister----that you describe----but I do have some of the impulses and tendencies that would suit someone for that role.

    people who traditionally assemble and edit POETRY ANTHOLOGIES do this kind of thing-----they actually present their own vision of a field and where it is going by selecting out a collection that embodies that vision.

    and they also are a kind of historian (a visionary to be good must also be a creative historian)

    since LINKS are even more compact than poems, the process of compiling a link anthology would be even more efficient than that of compiling a poetry anthology.

    One would probably want to append comments.

    John Baez is to some extent a part-time anthologizer, with very good notes and comments. Ginsparg might have been thinking of him.

    Maybe all we need to do is wait until some of these guys like John Baez get OLD and no longer aspire to do their own original work and discover what the universe is etc etc. Then they can compile annotated lists and accumulate huge amounts of prestige and respect because of making such good lists.

    And John Baez can have graduate student SLAVES who can scour the countryside for him looking for links to add to the Baez List. the reputation-driven academic MACHINERY (don't knock it, it accomplishes a lot) would be brought into furthering these lists.
    =============

    oops, got swept away by the idea. maybe in the wrong direction.

    Other Internet Lists I can think of: 't Hooft's personal website with a list of online materials that a young person should study in order to become a good physicist. Must feel good to have one's online lecturenotes included in 't Hooft's list of recommended readings. He includes some fresh frank commentary IIRC

    well I can't think of other examples but maybe you or someone else can.

    It is a lot of work. To motivate people to do it they should award PhD's for making a good annotated link list (like a thesis). They do that in various academic Literature fields---a thesis can sometimes amount to an anthology with lots of comment interspersed.

    My kind of lists are more like spreading salt and sawdust on the ice, to give people traction. It is a preliminary flagging of stuff that might easily slip by and be missed. If someone else finds it useful, great. I almost have to do it, in order to get an idea of what's going on.
    ==========

    about your view of refereed paper, I think I understand your attitude very well. It makes sense given that you have found a good place and way to live. Refereed publication gives people more options of where they can go and which other collections of colleagues they can hang out with in the coffeeroom and at the blackboard. I can believe that you have weighed these considerations carefully and made a wise choice. (there have been several discussions about this and several others feel the same way). Status and mobility options can become obsessions and take on more importance than they are actually worth. If one is already in a place one likes and is happy.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2006
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