The Nature of Time Essay Contest (2008)
Electron time, mass and zitter by David Hestenes
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de Broglie’s original idea that the electron has an internal clock has recently received experimental confirmation by measuring the period of the clock in an electron channeling experiment. This result has been explained by a new model of the electron, called the zitter model because it incorporates Schroedinger’s qualitative zitterbewegung concept into a fully specified interacting particle model. The zitter electron is a lightlike charged particle with intrinsic spin that maintains it in a helical spacetime path, with curvature and frequency determined by the electron mass. Thus, electron mass is fully reduced to clock frequency in electron motion. This essay discusses details of the model and its implications.Author Bio
David Hestenes is Emeritus Professor of Physics at Arizona State University, APS Fellow, Overseas Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge. Formerly UCLA University Fellow, NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, NASA Faculty Fellow and Senior Fulbright Fellow. His main line of research is development and application of Geometric Algebra as a unified mathematical language for physics. In recognition of this work he was designated Foundations of Physics Honoree in 1993. For contributions to physics education he was awarded the 2002 Oersted Medal by the AAPT and the 2003 Education Research Award by the National Council of Scientific Society Presidents. Download Essay PDF File
Let me be the first to congratulate you on your essay. I was so surprised and delighted to see you name on one of the entries for today. I’ve skimmed the essay, but have followed your work for years.
With this fortuitous breakthrough, your physical ideas should get much more attention, accelerating the acceptance of your great mathematical accomplishments. I hope so.
Just out of curiosity, what implications, if any, do you think this has for the relevancy of Planck units, and theoretical views stemming therefrom?
Dear Dr. Hestenes,
Thank you for the good news you bring to us in this essay, about the electron’s “inner clock”. During the time, I devoured your articles and books on Geometric Algebra, with their applications to Physics, including the zitterbewegung interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. But it is only now when I hear about this major experimental confirmation. I was really impressed by the insights and the history presented here. I am happy for this major point earned by a point-like model of the electron, although I myself am pursuing a rather complementary (but not opposed) viewpoint in QM.
Congratulations for your work,
“Flowing with a Frozen River”,
Why can't I download the Hestenes Essay?
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Dear Dr. Hestenes,
Unlike many other pointless philosophical writings about the concept of time presented here, your essay seems to be about real physics and is very concrete. I like it and I am sorry that I didn't know about your works before (thanks for putting references to your papers). Of course, the idea about charges circling inside the electron is not new, but I see that you are trying to develop this idea into a real theory. Although the structure your are exploring is oversimplified comparing to what it actually might be, I am pretty sure that you are on the right track. Congratulations!
I had no trouble downloading and reading the paper. It mentions Gauge Theory Gravity, which is somewhat unique in that it gives results identical to general relativity but constructed on a flat or Minkowski background space and so avoids topological stuff like worm holes etc.
One has to admit that a flat background space for gravity is an invitation to write a quantum field theory for it, and a cosmology to go along. The stuff that the Cambridge geometry group has done along this line is compatible with Big Bang theory. However, one wonders if it is possible to rewrite cosmology on a flat space as well.
To get a big bang effect on flat space, one has to assume that the clock of an observer increases its rate steadily over time. Early on, his clock runs very slowly so the universe appears very hot and small. This change in clock time corresponds to the ZBW frequency of Dr. Hestenes' paper. To get the right cosmological consequences, one must suppose that the zbw frequency is proportional to how far into the universe he can look backwards (to its beginning).
I also greatly enjoyed this essay and was completely unaware of this interesting experiment. I look forward to such an analysis for other particle clocks. Maybe the GSI anomaly?
Prof. Hestenes, I've been following your work with interest since I read your book "Space-time Algebra" years ago, so I'm surprised and delighted to read your essay here. I'm especially delighted since the Gouanère experiment you mentioned seems to corroborate my own long-standing suspicion of an elementary process underlying the fermion mass. Though our models differ in details (mine is nowhere as refined as yours), I do salute you for your fine essay and for bringing to light an interesting experiment.
P.S. there's a typo for reference 3 at the end of the paper. Here's the correct link for those who may have trouble looking it up in arXiv:
Hi Dr Hestenes,
I have been reading thermophysics literture:
SV Alekseenko, PA Kuibin, VL Okulov,
Theory of Concentrated Vortices: An Introduction.
These authors discuss Beltrami flows ~ helical motion, which seems related to Zitterbewegung. In fluids speeds are slow relative to distance, while in Zitterwebegung, speeds are realtivistic at quantum distances.
Could time also be a Beltrami flow?
I really aprreciated the novelty of this contribution.
The only source of misunderstanding is the interpretation of the "electron intrinsic time" as something real. As stated at a certain point, such parameter relates the spin and phase of the electron with space variable. The only speakable consequence is that space and spin/phase are related, but nothing can be said about the parameter time, especially its connection with clock time of macroscopic objects.
It is a convenient view to call such parameter time, but it is possible only by supposing that one knows what is frequency, which is a time dependent concept (uses "period").
Very good essay but it has little to do with the "nature of time"
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Dear Dr. Hestenes,
Did you read the book "Schroedinger - Life and Thought"?
It contains an erotic poem by Schroedinger: Zittern.
My factual criticism of Schroedinger can be found in
Your late submission permitted me to see your essay only now. It is significantly informative for me as i was not aware of the aspect touched-electron time due to its zitter!The huge frequency of zitter is mind boggling 10 E21 Hz.You say that electron moves in circular motion with speed of light about the spinning direction.In fact the spinning itself arises from circular spinning about its own axis! It all sounds quite a bit imaginative for a point particle like the compton radius of the electron.If one questions the concepts of space time and have alternative description, the spce-time history of electron will go too to sustain the zitter model.The channeling experiment has just been done only once. from what i know about channeling, it is very tough experiment to conduct. The interpretation is based on single row/plane of the crystal in theoretical considerations. But actual experiment yields depend on contributions from the neighbouring rows/planes, besides consideration of crystal defects. These can affect the interpretation of results. The experiment needs more than one repetition at different laboratories to substantiate the Zitter and its universality, being proposed.Your connection of this aspect to the dark matter also does not seem to have attracted the cosmologists thus far!
In making these comments, i certainly don't mean to be critical of your unique essay on a unique aspect. Let us repeat the channeling experiment at 2, 3 different labs of repute around the world. The significance to me lies in uuderstanding Gravity better than what we know currently, as the Unified field is being defied ,the other three field components get unified! Also, what will be the consequence of a varying value of 'c' that has been experimentally observed to have slightly lost its value closer to the birth of the Universe? The changes in 'c' may affect your zitter model's mathematical equations!
Before getting into a discussion of your essay, let me say I hope to see an intro physics text based on clifford algebra someday! (Am J Phys v71, #2, 2003, p104)
I realize you had to leave much out of your essay, so maybe these three naive questions result fm that fact:
1) Do I understand correctly that you want a massive particle, the electron, to follow a null path?
2) What force supplies the centripetal acceleration for the helical motion?
3) The picture seems very classical, much like that of an electron in orbit about the nucleus. We know that picture doesn't work b/c the electron would promptly irradiate away its orbital energy and spiral into the nucleus. Why doesn't that happen in this model?
Enjoyed reading your essay, although I found some of it to be heavy going. But I am intrigued by the notion of helical lightlike trajectories around timelike worldlines. Could this mean that all fundamental particles are "really" massless? Could the "transverse" directions be unphysical? After all, null vectors in higher dimensional spacetimes project to causal (null or timelike) vectors in lower dimensions!
Dear David Hestenes,
The received results mean the nonzero sizes of the electron or the electron remains a dot particle? The question is put in a context of an essay The Theory of Time, Space and Gravitation
, where the conclusion about the nonzero sizes of any material particle is presented.
My post of Dec.,07 remains unresponded. The reliability of your innovative concepts is much tied to the Channeling Experiment's reliability that has been commented upon in the said post!
You summed up, "Perhaps gravitational torsion due to
spin, like gravitational force due to mass, is negligible at the atomic level but accumulates to an
observable effect at the galactic level. Enough said!"
Enough indeed. My own calculation for concservation of angular momentum even at the planetary level (FQXI, "Time Counts") is a tiny but not negligible difference from the classical expectation of about 8.96 X 10^-7 sec for the example given (sun-earth relation)--meaning a tiny loss of time due to energy dissipation.
Thanks for a well done and enlightening essay!
Dear prof. Hestenes,
I liked your essay. It is very important, that the helical world line of the Dirac particle, predicted by your Zitter-Dirac model, was confirmed experimentally. There is an important detail, connected with the helical world line. Besides, the helix follows from the Zitter-Dirac model , it follows also directly from the Dirac equation. One can eliminate gamma-matrices from the action for the Dirac equation by means of change of dynamic variables, and one can present the action in terms of hydrodynamic variables. (Yu.A.Rylov, "Dirac equation in terms of hydrodynamic variables" Advances in Applied Clefford Algebras, 5, pp 1-40, (1995)).
Elimination of gamma-matrices discovers two important circumstances: (1) In the hydrodynamic variables the action can be divided into two parts: classical and quantum ones, (2) description of the Dirac dynamic system appears to be nonrelativistic.
The classical part describe the statistical ensemble of classical dynamic systems S_cl. Each dynamic system S_cl has 10 degrees of freedom. Considering the dynamic system S_cl as a particle, one obtains, that the world line of this particle is a helix. Six external degrees of freedom, describing translations are described relativistically, whereas four remaining degrees of freedom describe the particle spiraling. These four degrees of freedom are described nonrelativistically.
Nonrelativistic character of spiraling is a defect of the Dirac equation. This defect does not appear in the consideration of electronic envelopes in atoms, because in this case the intrinsic structure of the electron is of no importance. But it may be important in theory of elementary particle.
It is interesting, whether this defect appears in the Zitter-Dirac model of Hestenes. Although the nature of the spiraling is not yet clear, I believe, that prediction of this spiraling and confirmation it in experiment is a very important achievement.
The necessity of repeatation of such an experiment is much needed as Channeling experiments need very careful interpretation , as perfect crystals structure don't exist in nature. Both lattive defects and impurities play significant role and need careful analysis!
Mark Stuckey wrote, in part: "3) The picture seems very classical, much like that of an electron in orbit about the nucleus. We know that picture doesn't work b/c the electron would promptly irradiate away its orbital energy and spiral into the nucleus. Why doesn't that happen in this model?"
I was hoping David might reply, because I thought he did answer this question in his essay, as a hypothesis of angular momentum conservation that scales all the way down to the electron. Quoting Hestenes:
"We know that the cumulative gravitational force from stars in a galaxy, for example, is insufficient to account for the angular momentum of the galaxy. Perhaps the discrepancy is not due to missing matter, but missing angular momentum in the gravitational field, as might be supplied by a torsion component. Indeed, the spin-zitter hypothesis requires that masses of particle sources are accompanied by spins. Perhaps gravitational torsion due to spin, like gravitational force due to mass, is negligible at the atomic level but accumulates to an observable effect at the galactic level."
To me, this implies a Mach's Principle type classical effect that informs the quantum effect. If so, David's hypothesis would be a very significant contribution to general relativity which is, of course, fundamentally based on this principle.
As I noted in a previous posting here, I have a calculation in my paper ("Time counts") that shows for the example given (sun-Earth relation) a tiny 8.96 X 10^-7 sec deviation in the oribital period from the unitary classical expectation. That small a difference on the plantary scale, extrapolated to the atomic scale, does not have to assume a quasi-classical picture for electron motion--but possibly can explain why classical scale quantum jitters birth microscale jitters and prevent electron decay beyond ground energy.
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You have my vote.
The binding of existence
This is a story, built upon knowledge, intuition, and speculation. In the end, it is built upon some known theoretically successfully tested truths, and some unknowns conveyed in a formula that I consider trumps any objections – as we ponder the scope of existence. First we know of existence, by way of our self-awareness, coupled with scientific...
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The binding of existence
This is a story, built upon knowledge, intuition, and speculation. In the end, it is built upon some known theoretically successfully tested truths, and some unknowns conveyed in a formula that I consider trumps any objections – as we ponder the scope of existence. First we know of existence, by way of our self-awareness, coupled with scientific knowledge. Second by way of the unknowns i.e., “Infinity”, that must incongruously play with us (self-aware-finite creatures), in some connected manner.
This Second irascibly indefinable thing called “Infinity”, simply stumps our “finite” minds every time, when we attempt to figure out its mathematical infinities. As it must. As if it did not stump our efforts to understand it, it would become defined, and anything defined, is “Finite.”. So we have an absolute conundrum that operates our existence. But we are still connected, in a union, both finite and infinite, through the known attributes we have scientifically tested to be true. As without “Infinity”, there can be no “Finite.” And remember Infinity, has no bounds, no time, no space, no beginning and no end.
This is plainly contrary to finite logic, but Infinity simply is contrary. Always has been. And always will be. But it is also the very milk of our very finite existences… We are Connected… Our actions matter, as I will soon explain – in summary.
INFINITY: Irascible and fundamentally a necessary fickle fact. An argument that no mathematics or thought equation can defend against… To challenge this premise is to supersede infinity’s very nature. It will never ever happen.
Therefore we are circumscribed to live within, the physics - largely of Newtonian and Einstein’s mathematics. I would caution to note: that these finite mathematics are subject to change that currently work fairly well for our finite existence as we mathematically calculate how to penetrate and maneuver the Stars, or add 2 plus 2 to equal 4. But they do not work to unravel Quantum Mechanics (in total), and the cache of oddities, such as “Superposition’s”, whereby subatomic particles are in several places at one time, until they are interrupted by measurement. Or do these current finite mathematics explain “Entanglement”, which allows for two subatomic elements to be millions of miles apart, however if one changes its state of “spin” or “electrical” charge the other particle millions of miles away responds instantly. Yes, this violates the concept of the speed of light as the fasted method of action in the Universe.
As Einstein called “Entanglement” Spooky, but none the less real. This seemingly violates the speed of light. But hold on, the Speed of Light travels, Entanglement implies “Connection”. Or what is known as Local action.
Space is the key to this thought equation. Since space is “Infinite” to the “Finite” Observer. Space in this context is also in union with waves – as well as particles. However waves may connect all things instantly, just as waves may allow for “Superposition’s.”
The answer is simply that: This makes us both Local and Non-Local at the same time. Waves and or theoretical “Strings” perhaps in some union – connect our space and possibly time in ways we do not fully comprehend. If true, our infinite extended connections are observed from a finite realm only. It might be important to note here: That simply no distance is allowed in an Infinite realm, as infinity is immune to classification, therefore it is all things and no things at the same time. Make sense? It usually should not, as finite logic has a difficult time with this both intuitively and implicitly mathematically. Make sense yet?
Probably not, as this means that “Everything is Nothing and Nothing is Everything.” Hence there are no real “infinites” to calculate in an Infinite realm. But this last statement is a clear oxymoron, as it should be, as infinity does not have mathematics or anything defined based in or of it. As this would imply a finite realm. It is simply infinite, and does not apply to our finite realm of mathematics.
Mathematics is purely the purview of the finite.
When I said there are really no infinities in the infinite realm. I meant it. But to us, within the finite realm or finite conscious state, as observers, Infinities are what - infinity, space and time are made of. Once again, the ultimate and infinite conundrum. However, how does this allow for the stuff of existence, such as “us”, or cars, and trees and so on to exist? Well we do need infinity to have a finite realm, as I said.
That is the puzzle? That must never be answered technically, nor can it, again from a finite perspective or finite observer. This mind trap we are caught in trying to view infinity - would seem to drive one mad to think that Infinity, Space and Time have no beginning or an end.
But get use to it.
Infinity is indelible. Terms like “time” and “space” are non-words to describe Infinity correctly, as Infinity never had a beginning or an end. The space and time word terms we use within the realm of Infinities definition, or lack thereof, could not and do not exist. Unlike the finite world, which has an Alpha and Omega. (Dust to Dust, Evolution, and Space to move to, and a length of Time that life gives us to observe.
And – That is that…
We are here by way of connections of an indefinable Infinity, which has always been, and will always be. Make no mistake about it. This will provide us and others forever to give sentiency a journey to discover anew. New science from physics to health, coupled with new modes of life, new cultures to come. Save an Asteroid impacting the Earth, or a Super-Volcano taking us to our end of time as sentient beings. But others will arise, no doubt by way of times finite arrow.
The finite with a beginning and end is necessary, to find hope. Just imagine living for eternity without end. That proposition, would invoke a person to lose goals, have no new hopes, and actually impart a crazy madness of hopelessness. As you would be in the ultimate Trap, or Jail forever, if self-aware. What would be the point? One would ask themselves… And therefore, Life and Death, are necessary.
Dust to Dust and then perhaps? Take your best shot at a faithful guess! The options are many, the realities may be few. No one really knows. No one…
Plainly beyond us, the Infinite and Finite will ebb and flow, and new existences will arise through an endless connection to everything for all time…
1. The Science is: That Infinity is incomprehensible to any complete understanding and, the Finite is limited to understanding all things, perhaps itself and certainly infinity. The connection between the finite and the infinite operate as if Everything is Nothing and Nothing is Everything… Have fun with that analogy! As for me, it holds true, as it confirms to me that cognitive logic eventually meets the illogic of Infinity. This lets us clearly know we will never actually know honestly and truthfully the great questions of life: As to know “ALL” or “Truth” would be to actually define a place and a time, which can only be finite. And that would defy the rules of Infinity, which cannot be technically ever defined. Otherwise it is no longer infinite; it would then become as a mere canvas with parameters. And Infinity is incomprehensible. End of Story – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow… In other words Forever!
2. The Moral is: That Legacies matter. Build a good one. The Butterfly Effect is always on… And that is what really matters.
All the best in our journey’s, Russ Otter
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If the channeling experiment is confirmed this proves the neorealist interpretation of QM (the Paris school) is correct. There is a particle and a wave!(See Nick Herbert's book "Quantum Reality.")
You reference Huang's 1949 paper. He has twice the spiral radius as yours, so he can account for the electron magnetic moment. If you put beta = 1 and p = 0 in his equation 27 you can also account for the electron spin by assuming the inertial mass of the electron in the spin mode is only one half its normal translational mass.
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