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What Is “Fundamental”
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Wandering Towards a Goal
How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?
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Trick or Truth: The Mysterious Connection Between Physics and Mathematics
Contest Partners: Nanotronics Imaging, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, and The John Templeton Foundation
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January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014
Contest Partners: Jaan Tallinn, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, The John Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American

It From Bit or Bit From It
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Questioning the Foundations
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Is Reality Digital or Analog?
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Peter Jackson: on 10/11/12 at 10:52am UTC, wrote Emile I regret I didn't get to your excellent essay. Congratulations for...

Sergey Fedosin: on 10/4/12 at 8:29am UTC, wrote If you do not understand why your rating dropped down. As I found ratings...

Ed Unverricht: on 10/1/12 at 19:43pm UTC, wrote Hi Emilio, I read and liked your essay a lot. The titles "Towards a model...

John A. Macken: on 9/26/12 at 0:55am UTC, wrote Emilio, I agree that quantum fluctuations imply a quantum mechanical...

Hoang Hai: on 9/19/12 at 14:16pm UTC, wrote Dear Very interesting to see your essay. Perhaps all of us are convinced...

Hadjidakis: on 9/15/12 at 13:37pm UTC, wrote Dear Emilio Santos, As chemists we are in a privilege position in dealing...

M. Vasilyeva: on 9/14/12 at 3:58am UTC, wrote Querido Professor Santos, I very much enjoyed your essay. In contrast to...

Yuri Danoyan: on 9/6/12 at 14:35pm UTC, wrote Emilio, You wrote about puzzle of cosmological constant I find out...


Steve Dufourny: "Yes you are right we are responsible for all our global problems, and if we..." in How does the brain...

Steve Dufourny: "To be frank Lorraine, I don t wait persons lacking of consciousness on this..." in How does the brain...

Steve Dufourny: "Well, there still it is an affirmation about the modified gravity , the..." in On a contextual model...

John Cox: "Georgina, I don't know. On one hand the production on any singlet pair..." in On a contextual model...

Paul Hayes: ""According to quantum physics, a system can be in a ’superposition,’..." in The Quantum Engine That...

Alan Lowey: "Brian What % chance would you give of Einstein's gravity theory being..." in Alternative Models of...

Brian Balke: "I offered this to the community roughly ten years ago, and thought that I..." in Alternative Models of...

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click titles to read articles

Can Choices Curve Spacetime?
Two teams are developing ways to detect quantum-gravitational effects in the lab.

The Quantum Engine That Simultaneously Heats and Cools
Tiny device could help boost quantum electronics.

The Quantum Refrigerator
A tiny cooling device could help rewrite the thermodynamic rule book for quantum machines.

Time to Think
Philosopher Jenann Ismael invokes the thermodynamic arrow of time to explain how human intelligence emerged through culture.

Lockdown Lab Life
Grounded physicists are exploring the use of online and virtual-reality conferencing, and AI-controlled experiments, to maintain social distancing. Post-pandemic, these positive innovations could make science more accessible and environmentally-friendly.

June 16, 2021

CATEGORY: Questioning the Foundations Essay Contest (2012) [back]
TOPIC: Real Vacuum Fluctuations, the Clue to Understand Quantum Physics by Emilio Santos [refresh]
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Author Emilio Santos wrote on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 12:39 GMT
Essay Abstract

Arguments are gived for the plausibility that quantum mechanics is a stochastic theory and that many quantum phenomena derive from the existence of a real noise consisting of vacuum fluctuations of the fields existing in nature. Planck's constant appears as the parameter fixing the scale of the noise. Hints for an intuitive explanation are offered for some typical quantum features, like the uncertainty principle .

Author Bio

I got a degree in Chemistry in the Univesity of Valladolid, Spain, in 1957. I entered theoretical physics via my Ph.D. thesis in quantum chemistry. Since 1976 I have been professor of theoretical physics in the University of Santander, Spain. From my origin as a chemist I like models and I am not satisfied with just a formalism, no matter how mathematically elegant and how succesful in the predictions of experimental results. Thus most of my research work has been devoted to try to understand quantum mechanics in terms of physical models.

Download Essay PDF File

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Avtar Singh wrote on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 17:20 GMT
Dear Emilio:

I agree completely with the following basic approach in your paper-

“…any physical theory should contain two ingredients: a physical model and a calculational tool,…”

I use the same approach, in my posted paper – “From Absurd to Elegant Universe” to develop a physics based calculation tool for predicting the observed universe expansion, dark energy, and dark matter etc. The tool also explains/predicts the inner workings of quantum mechanics.

I will welcome your comments on the paper.


Avtar Singh

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Roger replied on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 02:34 GMT
Emilio and Dr. Santos,

I also agree with the idea that physical, visualizable models should be at the base of all physics theories. While I'm a layperson in physics, the term "physics" seems to me to have the same root as "physical", which to this layperson indicates that physics should always have at its base a physical model and that any mathematics used should also have some correlation with the real, physical world. I'll be writing about the mathematical aspect in my essay (yet to come) in which I draw some parallels with biochemistry, my field.



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Anonymous wrote on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 14:56 GMT
Dear Doctor Santos,

Unquestionably, you have clearly written one of the finest explanatory essays about the theory supporting quantum mechanics I have ever read and I wish to thank you for submitting it to this esteemed website. I only have two picayune reservations concerning two of the comments you made in your essay. First, I do not think that the one real Universe is in any way complex. The one real Universe is the simplest of structures. The one real Universe is continually occurring once. While it might appear that there are lots of different complicated and simple things in the Universe, each one of these seeming complicated and simple things is temporarily unique. Should one attempt to divine the nature of a simple thing, one will quickly find oneself sinking into a vast bog of contradictory abstraction. The fact is that each and every thing simple or complex, real or imagined will only ever have three differing aspects once. Your contention that a physical theory ought to contain a physical model and a calculational tool fails to specify what the three aspects of a physical theory are. Obviously, they could only conform to Hegel’s thesis, antithesis and synthesis supposition. Any manipulation of numbers other than a whole 1 when applied to any physical model may seem theoretically accurate, however, such extraneous numbers are clearly erroneous for only a 1 can be used in one real Universe once.

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 18:03 GMT
Dear Emilio Santos,

I am generally in sympathy with your desire for a "picture" of the physical world. But I disagree when you claim that saying that an electron is both a wave (extended) and a particle (localized) is "not a clear answer". Further in your essay you find the picture of de Broglie waves untenable: "how the (extended) wave may follow the (localized) particle?"

Recall Einstein's statement: "..there exists no space "empty of field." This implies that the motion of an electron is not separable from the presence of the field, and the two inseparable aspects of reality can definitely provide a particle-plus-wave similar to the de Broglie picture.

The problem lies in trying to visualize a particle and a wave as the *same* thing. One does not try to visualize the speed boat and the bow wave as the 'same thing', yet they are inseparable when in motion. If the (extended) wave is 'induced' by the (localized) electron, as explained in The Nature of the Wave Function, this conceptual confusion vanishes, and a 'physical picture' of quantum phenomena results.

I hope that you find time to read my essay and to appreciate the 'picture' afforded by this model, and the way in which it satisfies the requirements of quantum mechanics. I believe that this model is compatible with your assumption that "in nature there are particles and fields (waves)." And it should also be compatible with your very realistic idea of 'noise' as ever-present.

Best of luck in the contest,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Emilio Santos replied on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 07:39 GMT
Dear Edwin: Thank you for your comment. What I mean is that every particle cannot possess its OWN wave. In the case of the boat on the sea, one part of the sea waves are created by de boat, but other waves are created by other boats or by other agents. Thus I suppose that we have many particles and a continuum of waves that we might study by Fourier analysis, but without the possibility of attaching each Fourier component to one specific particle. Then the problem which I point out as unsolved is why the particle interacts much more strongly whith one Fourier mode, namely the one fulfilling de Broglie equation. In any case I may accept your criticism to my statement that "saying that it is both is not clear". But instead os saying "is both" I would prefer to say "contains both" or maybe "consists of both" or better "any particle is always interacting with waves". After all this is also the idea in classical physics: every particle creates a field and every field acts on some particles. The difference between quantum and classical is the existence of fluctuations in the former.

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 08:00 GMT
Dear Emilio Santos,

I regret that my use of the analogy of boat and wave was misleading. If you find the time to read my essay you will find that every particle can possess its OWN wave.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Vanduc wrote on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 14:43 GMT
Dear Emilio Santos,

Your essay repeats some ideas published in the FQXi's 2011 essay contest. For example, the similar explanation of Heisenberg uncertainty by vacuum fluctuations you can find in this paper. (Although your essay contains also some new, still unpublished ideas, for example about dark matter).

To avoid duplication, new contestants must read the essays from previous contest.

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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Jul. 25, 2012 @ 08:55 GMT
Dear Emilio

I enjoyed your essay because it focused on a belief that Nature is physically explainable even at the tiniest level, and you have presented the core idea of stochastic zero point fluctuations ZPF skilfully, and followed up on its implications. Although I totally disagree with stochastic ZPF, strangely some of your conclusions are valid: that quantum probability and Uncertainty are due to explainable physical effects, that photon absorption appearing as dots on a film does not mean a point photon (I liked your wind and trees example) and on the whole that you see energy even at zero K., and that particles have real wave fields.

My fqxi essay 'Fix Physics!' hints at various ideas that explain why I do not believe Nature is random: This idea of a very ordered local, causal Universe of spinning ether nodes (you can think of them as points of angular momentum in units of h) explains QM probability, Heisenberg Uncertainty relations and other aspects of QM as well as Relativity. It is outlined in my 2005 Beautiful Universe Theory Section 2.7 I would be honored if you can read and comment on both papers, even though the level of treatment is not as technically sophisticated as your work.

With best wishes for your success,


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Timothy Boyer wrote on Jul. 31, 2012 @ 16:19 GMT
Hi Emilio,

I believe that you express the ideas of stochastic electrodynamics very clearly. In the next-to-the-last paragraph of your essay, you give a particularly succinct description of the differences in our points of view. You are providing a stochastic picture of micro-physics closely associated with the quantum formalism; I'm still hoping to explain all the phenomena within classical physics starting from classical vacuum fluctuations. It's a nice, clear essay.


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Luis, Ana replied on Aug. 16, 2012 @ 22:19 GMT
Querido Emilio:

We enjoyed reading your essay and agree with Tim that it expresses in clear and intuitive terms the general ideas of stochastic electrodynamics. We find a fundamental coincidence with many of your points of view and qualitative images. Your insistence on the need for physical models is very useful; it contributes to counteract the widespread idea of the impossibility to get an image of what happens in the microworld.

You will find that some of the topics that you refer to are worked out in our essay, and in more detail in the references included at the end. According to our results, the initially classical particle, subject to the action of the zero-point field, ends up becoming quantum once the energy balance – or equivalently, the ergodic condition – is reached.

With our best wishes,

Luis and Ana Maria

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Emilio Santos replied on Aug. 19, 2012 @ 16:37 GMT
Queridos Luis y Ana María:

Thank you very. I shall make some comments on your essay.

Best wishes


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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Sep. 6, 2012 @ 14:35 GMT

You wrote about puzzle of cosmological constant

I find out solution.

See my comments to my essay

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M. V. Vasilyeva wrote on Sep. 14, 2012 @ 03:58 GMT
Querido Professor Santos,

I very much enjoyed your essay. In contrast to many essays here, yours associated in my head with cielos despejados y mucha, mucha luz. I fully agree with you that the fundamental assumption of the physical model behind the quantum theory should be the reality of the universal noise, even at 0° K, existing for all fields exchanging energies in a dynamic...

view entire post

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Hadjidakis wrote on Sep. 15, 2012 @ 13:37 GMT
Dear Emilio Santos,

As chemists we are in a privilege position in dealing with analytical and synthetic methodologies with comfort. Sometime, I expressed my worries how physics could be done without graphs (models) and I was misunderstood. It seems that the fluency in mathematical manipulations is more appreciated in our times than imagination (there is an Einstein's quote on this).

Have you ever thought that the whole universe is a Black Hole and it seems we are living on its horizon? If we are considering that C is proportional to Universe's radius then the "mass" density of vacuum, in order to keep it (BH) stable (constant "mass" density), should be approx. 3*10-26 Kg/m3 (just another coincidence?). 

You may have a look to my essays (and rate accordingly).

Best wishes, Ioannis

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Hoang cao Hai wrote on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 14:16 GMT

Very interesting to see your essay.

Perhaps all of us are convinced that: the choice of yourself is right!That of course is reasonable.

So may be we should work together to let's the consider clearly defined for the basis foundations theoretical as the most challenging with intellectual of all of us.

Why we do not try to start with a real challenge is very close and are the focus of interest of the human science: it is a matter of mass and grain Higg boson of the standard model.

Knowledge and belief reasoning of you will to express an opinion on this matter:

You have think that: the Mass is the expression of the impact force to material - so no impact force, we do not feel the Higg boson - similar to the case of no weight outside the Earth's atmosphere.

Does there need to be a particle with mass for everything have volume? If so, then why the mass of everything change when moving from the Earth to the Moon? Higg boson is lighter by the Moon's gravity is weaker than of Earth?

The LHC particle accelerator used to "Smashed" until "Ejected" Higg boson, but why only when the "Smashed" can see it,and when off then not see it ?

Can be "locked" Higg particles? so when "released" if we do not force to it by any the Force, how to know that it is "out" or not?

You are should be boldly to give a definition of weight that you think is right for us to enjoy, or oppose my opinion.

Because in the process of research, the value of "failure" or "success" is the similar with science. The purpose of a correct theory be must is without any a wrong point ?

Glad to see from you comments soon,because still have too many of the same problems.

Regard !


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

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John A. Macken wrote on Sep. 26, 2012 @ 00:55 GMT

I agree that quantum fluctuations imply a quantum mechanical "noise" in the universe. As you mention, this can be interpreted as an energy density about 10123 larger than the observed energy density of the universe. I have concluded that it is possible that all particles, fields and forces can be shown to be built out of this quantum mechanical model of spacetime if the quantum fluctuations are interpreted as waves in spacetime with amplitude permitted by the uncertainty principle. The maximum displacement of spacetime permitted by this limitation is a spatial displacement amplitude of Planck length and a temporal displacement amplitude of Planck time. It is actually possible to mathematically examine the implications of this model using the impedance of spacetime Zs = c3/G and several other considerations.

This probably sounds like the start of another unsubstantiated model of the universe, but this one produces real testable results. For example, wave-based particles are developed and these particles produce gravity and the electromagnetic force. The prediction that emerged from this model is that under a fundamental set of conditions the gravitational force would be equal to the square of the electromagnetic force. My essay available here gives some details of this prediction. A reference in the essay gives the entire concept. I mention this because your essay has many concepts that are compatible with the ideas proposed in my work.


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Ed Unverricht wrote on Oct. 1, 2012 @ 19:43 GMT
Hi Emilio,

I read and liked your essay a lot. The titles "Towards a model of the microworld - How to understand quantum mechanics" says a lot. I also liked the detail on Plank's constant "appears here with a transparent meaning, it fixes the scale of the universal noise .. I consider it a real fluctuating field"

We share an ambition to model the way things work on a very small scale. I would appreciate if you gave some considerations to the models in my essay #1306.

Regards, Ed

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Sergey G Fedosin wrote on Oct. 4, 2012 @ 08:29 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
was the quantity of people which gave you ratings. Then you have
of points. After it anyone give you
of points so you have
of points and
is the common quantity of the people which gave you ratings. At the same time you will have
of points. From here, if you want to be R2 > R1 there must be:
In other words if you want to increase rating of anyone you must give him more points
then the participant`s rating
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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Peter Jackson wrote on Oct. 11, 2012 @ 10:52 GMT

I regret I didn't get to your excellent essay. Congratulations for scraping in. I very much hope you may read mine carefully (7th), comment on the kino/dynamics, and get in touch to discuss.

Many thanks and very best wishes

Peter Jackson

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