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FQXi FORUM
July 18, 2019

CATEGORY: Questioning the Foundations Essay Contest (2012) [back]
TOPIC: Does Quantum Theory Need Space-Time? by Felix M Lev [refresh]

Author Felix M Lev wrote on Jul. 6, 2012 @ 11:26 GMT
Essay Abstract

We argue that the notion of space-time has a physical meaning only for describing real classical bodies while for constructing fundamental quantum theories this notion is not needed at all. As an illustration, we describe our approaches to the cosmological constant problem and gravity.

Author Bio

I graduated from the Moscow Institute for Physics and Technology, got a PhD from the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Physics (Moscow), got a Dr. Sci. degree from the Institute for High Energy Physics (also known as the Serpukhov Accelerator) and worked at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (Dubna, Moscow Region). Currently I am working at a software company in the greater Los Angeles area.

post approved

Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jul. 6, 2012 @ 21:29 GMT
Dear Felix Lev,

Thanks for an interesting treatment of some problems with quantum field theory (QFT). Of particular interest is your discussion about the fact that "their [local fields] products at the same point are poorly defined." This, in my mind, is an example of Dirac's complaint about "physical ideas that were not correctly incorporated into the theory", resulting in "no sound mathematical foundation."

If one assumes (as I do) that particles are not points, then the infinities that arise from mathematical points should not be taken too seriously.

You clearly and concisely observe that "The interaction Lagrangians where the fields interact at the same points is the main source of difficulties and inconsistencies in QFT", followed by your question as to whether this notion is needed at all.

Whereas you treat relativistic QFT and general relativity, I work the other end of the universe in my essay, The Nature of the Wave Function, in the sense that I treat non-relativistic quantum mechanics and the weak field approximation to general relativity. At first reading I am unable to bridge the gap between these two extremes, but I found your end fascinating and hope that you obtain something of value from my essay.

Your derivation of the cosmological acceleration and its connection to quantum theory is fascinating, as is your problem of finding a symmetry algebra that reproduces Newton's gravity for two free particles. Yours is a fresh view and a joy to read.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author Felix M Lev replied on Jul. 7, 2012 @ 06:47 GMT
Dear Edwin Eugene Klingman,

Thank you very much for reading my essay and your comments. I tried to understand your approach but my impression is similar to yours, i.e. that our approaches are very different. My understanding of some problems follows. The terms "wave function" and "particle-wave duality" have arisen at the beginning of quantum era in efforts to explain quantum behavior in terms of classical waves but now it is clear that no such explanation exists. The notion of wave is purely classical; it has a physical meaning only as a way of describing systems of many particles by their average characteristics. In particular, such notions as frequency and wave length can be applied only to classical waves, i.e. to systems consisting of many particles. If a particle state vector contains exp[i(px-Et)/\hbar] then by analogy with the theory of classical waves one might say that the particle is a wave with the frequency omega=E/\hbar and the (de Broglie) wave length lambda=2\pi\hbar/p. However, such defined quantities omega and lambda are not real frequencies and wave lengths measured e.g. in spectroscopic experiments. The term "wave function" might be misleading since in quantum theory it defines not amplitudes of waves but only amplitudes of probabilities. In my opinion the term "state vector" is more pertinent than "wave function" but for historical reasons the latter is used when it has the meaning of the former. In addition, GR is a pure classical theory. However, your philosophy seems to be almost fully opposite, right?

Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Jul. 7, 2012 @ 17:30 GMT
Dear Felix Lev,

Thanks for your response. I suspected that we might be too far apart to bridge the gap. In earlier essays I pointed to a theory that effectively derives a quantum condition from a classical field. On other threads we've discussed the notion that a new theory will not derive from either QM or GR but must of course cover both where appropriate. This is one reason I deem it appropriate to "meet in the middle" of weak field GR and non-relativistic QM.

You are correct that my philosophy is opposite to the beliefs you hold about the wave function, and my essay attempts to trace the history of those beliefs and show the wrong assumptions that led to a century of confusion, with special focus on the configuration space of the 'many-particle wave function'.

There does seem to be a wide fault line between physicists who put their faith in abstract math that no one believes to be complete or flawlessly correct and those who believe that physical "reality" [however defined] exists as the territory and all maps fail to cover it completely. Both sides on this issue advance the physics.

Thanks again for reading and commenting on my essay and for writing an excellent essay. Good luck in the contest.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Alan Lowey wrote on Jul. 7, 2012 @ 11:18 GMT
Dear Felix Lev,

I suspect you are right in your title question because this fits with my own science/reality philosophy(!). I'm glad someone of your mathematical skill and background has chosen this point of view to explore. Excellent work by all accounts.

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Author Felix M Lev replied on Jul. 7, 2012 @ 16:41 GMT
Dear Alan Lowey,

Thank you for your remarks. I agree with you that Newton’s isotropy is a simplicity which should be generalized. In our essays we try to implement this in different directions.

Alan Lowey replied on Jul. 9, 2012 @ 09:56 GMT
Hi Felix,

Could you expand on the your last post please, I'm unsure about your view on Newton's isotropy needing "generalization". What does that mean exactly? I'm convinced that Isotropy it's simply wrong and that Einstein continued this simplicity with mathematical cleverness which unfortunately gives us the modern day clash with quantum theory *and* common sense.

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Author Felix M Lev replied on Jul. 9, 2012 @ 18:53 GMT
Dear Alan,

The title of your essay is "Newton’s Isotropy and Equivalence Is Simplicity..." but in your question you say

"Isotropy it's simply wrong and that Einstein continued this simplicity...". So the statements:

1) Theory A is wrong

2) Theory A is a simplicity

are equivalent or not?

Yuri Danoyan wrote on Jul. 8, 2012 @ 03:26 GMT
Dear Felix

Your approach close to my intuition.

I wish good luck to you in this competition.

All the best

Yuri

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Sridattadev wrote on Jul. 9, 2012 @ 14:08 GMT
Dear Felix,

I read your essay and agree with your point and it is same as the truth that I am putting forth in the following essay

Conscience is the cosmological constant.

There is no space unless one chooses to measure and there is no time until one chooses to count. There is no space-time besides one absolute self or singularity.

Who am i? I am concrete, i is abstract. I am physics, i is mathematics.

Love,

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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 10:55 GMT
Dear Lev

You addressed the reader at one point "if you are still reading this" well I read the entire essay and understood perhaps 20% of the very technical discussion. Nevertheless from everything you said and from the comments above I can see you have swallowed whole the assumptions of 20th. c. physics. I mean you seem to have mastered the methods of SR GR and QM even though they speak such different languages and address different domains. In my essay, naive as it may appear to you, there is an appeal for a concerted effort to find a better, simpler understanding of Nature. I would appreciate it if you read it as well as my Beautiful Universe theory upon which it is based. Yes it is a simplistic approach but I strongly believe one day some such simple approach will explain all of physics without the painful complications that you struggle with so bravely in your essay.

Wishing you the best of luck,

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Author Felix M Lev replied on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 18:26 GMT

Thank you for your comments. I tried to understand your approach; on some problems we have similar opinions but there are problems where we have considerably different opinions. As far as particle-wave duality is concerned, you could read my response to Edvin Eugene Klingman in this thread. You refer to the experiment 2 2 by Eric Reiter. Your reference is a cite unquantum.net but I could not find a detailed description of the experiment there. Could you please tell me where the details of the experiment can be found.

Thank you. Felix.

Vladimir F. Tamari replied on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 13:22 GMT
Dear Felix

Thanks for your response. In your reply to Eugene you say that "The notion of wave is purely classical; it has a physical meaning only as a way of describing systems of many particles by their average characteristics". On the contrary a wave can define each element it is made of very precisely at any given time and following sinusoidal pattern. The problem of course is what 'element' we are talking about. Since Einstein banished the ether it is considered laughable to say that quantum mechanics could be just a description of ether elements undergoing wave motion of one sort or another. This has got to change and for the reasons I mentioned in my fqxi essay Fix Physics!. I mentioned the fqxi contest to Eric Reiter and I think he will be submitting an essay here and will doubtless mention his experiments. On unquantum.net click the Home tab and the experiment is described in a 2003 pdf in Part I of the Unquntum Effect Book.

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Georgina Parry wrote on Jul. 15, 2012 @ 20:53 GMT
Dear Felix M Lev,

I have had a couple of looks at your essay. I will need more to fully appreciate what you have written. I think it is clearly written and largely accessible, even though it is dealing with subjects that are not simple for non physicists. You wrote "One of the key ingredients of QFT is the notion of space-time background" and then proceeded to argue that the space-time background might not be necessary. I agree. The reason being, as I see it, because the space-time background for objects and events emerges from processing of received sensory data and is not the foundational source of the data or output reality. That insight allows many long standing questions of physics to be answered when the ideas are put into the correct working relationship.

That holographic models do not have a space-time assumption makes a lot of sense to me. I can imagine EM sensory data spreading out as a cascade from a source and there being spherical shells of data related to the event, of different sizes within different iterations of the Object universe. Giving a hypersphere within the superimposed layers of 3D space, if all of the historical iterations are combined into an imaginary structure, rather than space-time. I can imagine how the 2D data can be intercepted and formed into Image realities of 3D objects. I do not think material objects are formed from such data but that the holographic model could have a place within the data pool existing along with material structures and particles, which are the source of the data, within Object reality.

Your essay may be even more interesting that I have yet realised. I have only picked out those parts that are relatively easy for me to comprehend and relate to my own way of thinking.You have picked a very important false assumption as the basis of your essay. Good luck in the competition.

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Author Felix M Lev replied on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 19:03 GMT
Dear Georgina,

I wish you good luck in the competition too. In the previous contest you criticized my essay for being too mathematical but my impression is that now your attitude is more favorable. In my understanding your essay can be treated as a program on what should be done. I agree with many points of this program. I believe that in my approach several points of this program have been already implemented. For example, gravity is derived from a pure quantum approach and it has nothing to do with the curvature of the space-time.

Georgina Parry replied on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 20:24 GMT
Dear Felix,

It is still demanding for someone without a physics or maths background but there are papers that contain far more mathematics than your own entry in the competition.For me it looks like a good balance between clear verbal explanation and some mathematical precision.

Thank you for looking at my essay. The explanatory framework answers a lot of questions but can also be used in many different areas of physics to interpret experimental results within a coherent context.It is a framework that details can be fitted into and it indicates some areas that will be worthwhile to investigate and others that are most likely dead ends.I have added a high definition version of diagram 1. to my essay thread which makes it much easier to read.

I am glad you can see some overlap in our ways of thinking. It is still early in the competition and I expect that as well as reading new entries I will return to re-read those that I have found most interesting or would like to better understand. Which is likely to include your own essay. Good luck.

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Georgina Parry replied on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 06:53 GMT
Dear Felix,

here is a link to a web site that gives more information about the "RICP" explanatory framework used to -answer the essay question-,Reality in the context of physics I do need to spend some more time improving that web site but I think it is a fairly good introduction nonetheless. The key letters on the older version on that site were a link to the word definitions. Precise terminology and understanding of the restriction it imposes is necessary for the correct interpretation of the framework. It was not possible to include that accompanying list of terminology for this FQXi contest as it fell outside what is acceptable as notes.

Regards, Georgina.

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Daniel L Burnstein wrote on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 14:19 GMT
Dear Felix,

Though from a different reasoning than yours, I arrive at some of the same conclusions you have.

I explained in my reply to the FQXi recent article titled "Killing Time" that I find no reason to believe that time is anything else than a purely relational concept. It follows that the union of purely relational concept, that is, with space, a physical aspect of reality, is a mistake. Thus, not only can quantum theory do without space-time, so does all physics (in my humble opinion). There exist, if I am correct, no such thing as space-time.

As for space however, I believe that it an aspect of reality that does not emerge from the presence of matter or depends on it. I further speculate that space is as physical as matter. That is is as dynamical as matter (but not in the sense that is understood by GR).

On that, I congratulate you on a well written and interesting essay. I will certainly go back to it myself.

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Author Felix M Lev replied on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 00:29 GMT
Dear Daniel,

Thank you for your comments. I agree that our approaches are different. I tried to understand your essay, so far it's rather difficult.

Best regards, Felix.

Daniel L Burnstein wrote on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 00:59 GMT
Sorry that you find understanding the essay difficult. If there is any suggestions you have or clarifications you find may be necessary, please do not hesitate to express them.

From comments I have received in the past years, I think once the axioms of discreteness and matter are understood, the rest pretty much should follow. The problem some of my readers have been having can be traced back to trying to understand the ideas from within the framework of a theory that uses a completely different axiom set. I'm not saying that this is your case, but when it is, the easiest way to understand the ideas is to try to understand them from within the proposed system and then evaluate it for internal consistency and, later, consistency with observational and experimental data (the data, not the theoretical interpretations of it).

In the case of the essay, it may be that there is not enough space to appropriately expand on some of the key concepts. It is difficult to reach an optimal balance between the amount of concepts and the depth to which they are explored. It is even more difficult here since the ideas found in the essay were based on a much larger work, the first part of which can be found here .

That said, the important thing for me, and the only reason I participated in the contest, was to participate into and initiate discussions.

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Lev Goldfarb wrote on Jul. 31, 2012 @ 15:01 GMT
Hi Felix,

Good to see you participating here!

Are you concerned that the vast majority of physicists would be very reluctant to *further* increase the conceptual and the 'physical' gaps between the classical and the quantum physics?

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Author Felix M Lev replied on Jul. 31, 2012 @ 19:41 GMT
Hi Lev,

I simply tried to clearly describe what I think. So whether "the vast majority of physicists would be very reluctant" or not I don't know. Probably your question should be addressed to them, not to me.

Lev Goldfarb replied on Jul. 31, 2012 @ 21:28 GMT
Felix,

This might be a legitimate concern: if you want to pull quantum mechanics even further away from the classical physics, why not to look for some framework which can accommodate better (with no gap) both of them? Or is it too big of a task? ;-)

As you understand, physics is not the science that would suffer gladly any new important gaps. ;-)

Of course, as far as QFT is concerned, you might be right: I'm not competent to judge. ;-) And it is possible that by increasing the gap you might be doing a service to the future, more radical undertaking. What are your thoughts?

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Sep. 15, 2012 @ 11:04 GMT
Felix

Very interesting

72e8175a7c9/zvmmf4626.pdf

http://ufn.ru/ufn02/ufn02_2/Russian
/r022f.pdf

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Hoang cao Hai wrote on Sep. 26, 2012 @ 06:53 GMT
Dear PhD Felix M Lev

Too unique!

"The above examples with the cosmological constant problem and gravity

give strong arguments that the space-time description has a physical meaning only

for describing real classical bodies while the construction of fundamental quantum

theories should not involve space-time at all."

Seems you intend to put Quantum to outside the universe that we are studying?

Kind Regards !

Hải.Caohoàng of THE INCORRECT ASSUMPTIONS AND A CORRECT THEORY

August 23, 2012 - 11:51 GMT on this essay contest.

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Author Felix M Lev replied on Sep. 26, 2012 @ 20:12 GMT
Dear Hải.Caohoàng,

Thank you for your comments. To be honest, your phrase "Seems you intend to put Quantum to outside the universe that we are studying?" is not quite clear to me.

Best regards, Felix.

Stephen M Sycamore wrote on Sep. 26, 2012 @ 07:16 GMT
Hello Felix,

I'm just reading your essay. It's exceptionally clear and well-written in addition to being well-reasoned. I believe I agree with your findings essentially and would even want to drive the thinking further. I'll try to write down some of the thoughts that spontaneously occurred as I read the essay.

When you say

"The phenomenon of quantum field theory (QFT) has...

view entire post

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Author Felix M Lev replied on Sep. 26, 2012 @ 20:40 GMT
Dear Stephen,

Thank you for your comments. I agree with your remark that "It's hard to say how much of that very precise experimental agreement can be credited to QFT....". Probably, the most striking predictions of QFT are those obtained beyond the Dirac equation, e.g. for the electron and muon anomalous magnetic moments, Lamb shift etc. It is difficult to believe that those results are only coincidences. At the same time, it's obvious that the level of mathematical rigor in QFT is very poor.

Your essay is interesting and in general I agree with your conclusions. My understanding is that you consider only classical Lorenz transformations, right? Any transformation can be considered from the "active" or "passive" point of view. The former describes how physical quantities change when a transformation is applied to a given system while the latter means that we simply consider how quantities describing a system change when we describe the same system from the point of view of different observers. What is your preference? As I note in my essay, on quantum level global transformations are problematic.

Best regards, Felix.

Stephen M Sycamore replied on Sep. 27, 2012 @ 15:28 GMT
Hello again Felix,

To answer your question I suppose I would prefer the active transformation as that avoids what could be regarded as the abstraction of creating a new coordinate system. Better still is to not use a transformation at all but do the slightly harder work of modeling everything you're interested in the same frame of reference and thereby account for all dynamics of the situation. I quite agree that global transformations are problematic. There would seem to be a loss of information when you split the universe (all known facts that apply) into separate disconnected domains.

To highlight that problem with space-time, if you define the concept of simultaneous events based solely per observer, then you lose the information that all observers possess together. What all observers see simultaneously has at least as much value as what only one observer sees, doesn't it?

Louis De Broglie in "Non-linear Wave Mechanics" expressed a mostly intuitive distrust of transformations. I think that distrust is due to a subconscious acknowledgement of the potential loss or lack of information entailed in their use.

Steve

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Stephen M Sycamore replied on Sep. 27, 2012 @ 15:38 GMT
P.S. In case it wasn't obvious, my essay shows how one can arrive at the same results using no transformations as when one applies the Lorentz transformation. But the additional input variables of charge and mass are required.

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Member Benjamin F. Dribus wrote on Sep. 26, 2012 @ 17:48 GMT
Dear Felix,

You present a very interesting and useful point of view. Particularly striking is the lack of necessity for the notion of gravitational interaction between elementary particles. A few questions and remarks:

1. As you point out, the usual approach (e.g. Weinberg) to QFT is “symmetries first,” where the symmetries arise from a “spacetime” background that is taken...

view entire post

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Author Felix M Lev replied on Sep. 26, 2012 @ 20:08 GMT
Dear Ben,

Thank you for your comments. Within a few days I will respond with greater details.

Best regards, Felix.

Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Sep. 29, 2012 @ 09:16 GMT
Dear Felix

Hello. This is group message to you and the writers of some 80 contest essays that I have already read, rated and probably commented on.

This year I feel proud that the following old and new online friends have accepted my suggestion that they submit their ideas to this contest. Please feel free to read, comment on and rate these essays (including mine) if you have not already done so, thanks:

Why We Still Don't Have Quantum Nucleodynamics by Norman D. Cook a summary of his Springer book on the subject.

A Challenge to Quantized Absorption by Experiment and Theory by Eric Stanley Reiter Very important experiments based on Planck's loading theory, proving that Einstein's idea that the photon is a particle is wrong.

An Artist's Modest Proposal by Kenneth Snelson The world-famous inventor of Tensegrity applies his ideas of structure to de Broglie's atom.

Notes on Relativity by Edward Hoerdt Questioning how the Michelson-Morely experiment is analyzed in the context of Special Relativity

Vladimir Tamari's essay Fix Physics! Is Physics like a badly-designed building? A humorous illustrate take. Plus: Seven foundational questions suggest a new beginning.

Thank you and good luck.

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Kremlev sergey wrote on Oct. 4, 2012 @ 01:07 GMT
It's right

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Kremlev sergey wrote on Oct. 4, 2012 @ 01:20 GMT

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Sergey G Fedosin wrote on Oct. 4, 2012 @ 09:02 GMT
If you do not understand why your rating dropped down. As I found ratings in the contest are calculated in the next way. Suppose your rating is
$R_1$
and
$N_1$
was the quantity of people which gave you ratings. Then you have
$S_1=R_1 N_1$
of points. After it anyone give you
$dS$
of points so you have
$S_2=S_1+ dS$
of points and
$N_2=N_1+1$
is the common quantity of the people which gave you ratings. At the same time you will have
$S_2=R_2 N_2$
of points. From here, if you want to be R2 > R1 there must be:
$S_2/ N_2>S_1/ N_1$
or
$(S_1+ dS) / (N_1+1) >S_1/ N_1$
or
$dS >S_1/ N_1 =R_1$
In other words if you want to increase rating of anyone you must give him more points
$dS$
then the participant`s rating
$R_1$
was at the moment you rated him. From here it is seen that in the contest are special rules for ratings. And from here there are misunderstanding of some participants what is happened with their ratings. Moreover since community ratings are hided some participants do not sure how increase ratings of others and gives them maximum 10 points. But in the case the scale from 1 to 10 of points do not work, and some essays are overestimated and some essays are drop down. In my opinion it is a bad problem with this Contest rating process. I hope the FQXI community will change the rating process.

Sergey Fedosin

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Oct. 4, 2012 @ 13:55 GMT
c = 1; h = 1

if c vary, h not your assumption not valid

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Yuri Danoyan replied on Oct. 4, 2012 @ 14:18 GMT
"Then gravitational constant has the dimension (length)2"

Therefore it is wrong

Therefore G=R/Mnlpr wrong conclusion.

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Member Gheorghe-Sorin Sorin Paraoanu wrote on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 19:37 GMT
Hi Felix,

I enjoyed reading your essay. Especially the first part and the arguments about the role of spacetime are very nicely and clearly spelled out.

Good luck in the contest!!!

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