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What Is “Fundamental”
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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
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How Should Humanity Steer the Future?
January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014
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It From Bit or Bit From It
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Is Reality Digital or Analog?
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Steve Dufourny: on 3/17/11 at 10:58am UTC, wrote :) :) :)"Welcome to fqxi-ville, home of 2000 friendly souls, and one or two...

James Putnam: on 3/14/11 at 22:58pm UTC, wrote Marty Green, Hi, I gave you a very high rating. I think your essay belongs...

James Hoover: on 3/13/11 at 0:52am UTC, wrote Marty, I enjoyed your essay not only because it was well-argued but also...

Chris Kennedy: on 3/12/11 at 20:22pm UTC, wrote Marty, Good points. In my essay, I ask (since the quantum wave is...

Edwin Klingman: on 3/12/11 at 19:27pm UTC, wrote Marty, Just wanted to say again how much I enjoyed your paper and confirm...

Peter Jackson: on 3/12/11 at 18:07pm UTC, wrote Marty I confirm I thought it and excellent essay, very enjoyable and some...

Marty Green: on 3/12/11 at 0:11am UTC, wrote Hi Georgina Thank you so much for reading my article. I checked out your...

Georgina Parry: on 3/11/11 at 21:28pm UTC, wrote Dear Marty, Really enjoyed this essay. Very clearly written and looking at...


H.H.J. Luediger: "Even darker.... one can not easily downrate a racehorse to a donkey, but..." in Undecidability,...

Steve Agnew: "Well thank-you, you are very kind. I have come to appreciate the fact that..." in Quantum Dream Time

Samuel Parsons: "O also means a whole new universe in a box can be recreated a miniverse..." in Outside the Box

Samuel Parsons: "Is it 127? It's always comes back here. Just saying also I'm trying to..." in Outside the Box

Zeeya Merali: "INSPYRE, INternational School on modern PhYsics and REsearch, organized by..." in Welcome to INSPYRE 2020 -...

David Sloan: "Dear Alan, For any discussion regarding the essay contest, the contact..." in Undecidability,...

Jonathan Dickau: "Thank you Peter... For the kind words of explanation. It is looking like..." in From Cosmic Lighthouses...

Lawrence Crowell: "Tejinder, I was intrigued by your FQXi essay. Thanks for this reference to..." in Alternative Models of...

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Building Agency in the Biology Lab
Physicists are using optogenetics techniques to make a rudimentary agent, from cellular components, which can convert measurements into actions using light.

Think Quantum to Build Better AI
Investigating how quantum memory storage could aid machine learning and how quantum interactions with the environment may have played a role in evolution.

Outside the Box
A proposed quantum set-up that could predict your game-playing strategy resurrects Newcomb’s classic quiz show paradox.

The Quantum Agent
Investigating how the quantum measurement process might be related to the emergence of intelligence, agency and free will.

First Things First: The Physics of Causality
Why do we remember the past and not the future? Untangling the connections between cause and effect, choice, and entropy.

May 28, 2020

CATEGORY: Is Reality Digital or Analog? Essay Contest (2010-2011) [back]
TOPIC: There Are No Pea Shooters for Photons by Marty Green [refresh]
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Author Marty Green wrote on Feb. 16, 2011 @ 12:14 GMT
Essay Abstract

The case for the particle nature of light is well established, just as the wave theory of light has been discredited. Historically, the decisive arguments against the wave theory were developed in the early years of quantum mechanics. The need to consider the wave nature of matter only became fully evident following the advent of the Schroedinger equation in 1926. In this essay we consider whether the old arguments against the wave theory remain fully justified.

Author Bio

Marty Green graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Master's Degree in Electrical Engineering in 1992. He was and is an amateur physicist.

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Feb. 17, 2011 @ 01:01 GMT
Hi Marty,

I enjoyed your essay greatly. I agree that the wave theory has gotten the short end, but I want to assure you that you are not alone. In fact, you are in pretty good company, with some of your observations and laments. In a lecture I attended (at FFP11 in Paris) Anton Zeilinger showed on a slide a letter by Einstein expressing his misgivings about the corpuscular theory of light. And you must read some papers by H.D. Zeh or Erich Joos.

I touch on several aspects of your topic in my own essay, which I hope will appear soon. I submitted it at the very last minute, so it may take them a while. In any case; the points you make are not lost on me, and I've been wondering how long it will take for people to really appreciate some of what was learned 100 years ago. I think the Copenhagen interpretation has been a roadblock to progress in QM, because you really can explain a lot of things using only the wave-like aspect.

I think the reason why particle theory has taken over, while wave theory has languished, is the preoccupation in our society with left-brain thinking. The left-brain like to take everything apart, behaving like a reductionist, where the right brain alone can do justice to the wave-like perspective of reality. However; most people who are not meditators or musicians walk around completely oblivious to what perspective the right-brain offers. But rare individuals like Zeh can put a very right-brained view of reality into terms that are rigorously analytical, and therefore satisfying to the left-brain.

However; even after reading his work, most people fail to grasp that quantum decoherence is just like waves hitting the shore. Of course the waves come in one at a time, which deliver their payload of water with each new crest, and thus they appear like discrete entities. But looking out over the open sea, the waves appear to roll on endlessly.

Good Luck!

Jonathan J. Dickau

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Marty Green replied on Feb. 17, 2011 @ 03:11 GMT
Thanks, Jonathan. I'm really not used to people agreeing with me; I've been pushing these ideas and pretty much getting my ass kicked on various physics forums for almost fifteen years now, so your encouragement is very much appreciated. I've put some more ideas up on my blogsite which you'll probably find if you google it. There's some stuff on the collapse of the wave function I'm especially proud of.

I hope your article gets posted. I didn't even find out about the contest until the very last day, so I was in just under the wire. Hope you made it.

Marty Green

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Feb. 17, 2011 @ 23:42 GMT

Maybe you should get used to people agreeing with you. I think you have done an excellent job. One of the best essays I've yet read, and I've read all but those submitted in the last few days.

You have definitely achieved your purpose, in presenting a picture that is beyond that presented by and to most physicists. Although I began in electrical engineering before switching to physics, I never took the Antenna Design classes, nor have most physicists.

You point out that this venue was not the place for a sound mathematical analysis, and I agree, but I'm curious whether you have performed such. I ask because, as the author of an original theory myself, I have not been able to apply it with mathematical rigor to all problems that it relates to, because they are myriad and I am one.

Even your title is appropriate.

You mention in the Compton effect that it may be tricky to wrap our minds around the question of how the process kicked off. One of the best seminars I attended as an undergraduate, eons ago, was presented by a physicist from Georgia Tech on the topic: "What makes an oscillator 'osc'?" After discussing the system 'grovelling around in the dirt for energy' he concluded that (as we should expect) it is the non-linear terms that 'kick off' the process, and those are always tricky to wrap our minds around.

I hope you find time to read my essay. I would be very interested in your feedback.

Congratulations on a truly well written essay, with important insights.


I'm very happy to see you here. I look forward to reading your paper and hope you get a chance to read mine.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Marty Green replied on Feb. 18, 2011 @ 00:39 GMT
Thanks, Edwin. Your feedback is very much appreciated. It's funny but the electronic oscillator circuit is the example that always comes to mind for me when people say, for example, that spontaneous emission is impossible in the semi-classical approach because there is nothing to kick the process off. I mean, we would have this transistor with a couple of resistors and capacitors, and you'd draw out the circuit and by all appearances it should just sit there; and then you connect the battery and the little speaker starts to squeal. Yes, once it's squealing you can trace it around the circuit and see that it's self-sustaing. It still took a while to decide that you're not responsible for understanding how the oscillation got started in the first place.

In general I find the math hard, but even so I've done the odd calculation successfully. The crystal radio is an awesome calculation. I generally take advantage of tricks and short-cuts, so I'm not getting an exact analytical solution but I'm getting pretty good numerical results. Sometimes I can check them against the theory. If I can get a good physical visualisation of what's happening, I can usually pull out some kind of ballpark figure for it.

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Alan Lowey wrote on Feb. 17, 2011 @ 13:45 GMT
Hi Marty, I've been pushing my own ideas on the forums for some time now w.r.t to a helical screw as a model for the combined particle/wave nature of a graviton. Have you ever considered this type of visualisation to solve the enigma of particle/wave duality?


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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Feb. 18, 2011 @ 19:30 GMT
Hello again,

It seems my message above was truncated. Thank you; I did make it into the contest, and I responded to the oscillator question above.

All the Best,


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Constantinos Ragazas wrote on Feb. 21, 2011 @ 22:35 GMT
Hello Marty,

Thanks for your essay. We are in agreement on many points. But I focus more on 'continuous/discrete' rather than 'wave/particle' distinction. In my essay I mathematically derive Planck's Law for blackbody radiation using continous processes without using energy quanta and show that this Law is a mathematical truism that describes the interaction of energy. In a separate paper I also explain the photoelectric effect without using photons. I think you will enjoy reading what else I have to say!


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Eckard Blumschein wrote on Feb. 23, 2011 @ 16:52 GMT
Hello Marty,

A comment by Edwin Klingman on the essay by Constantinos Ragazas made me aware of your essay. You are a young EE, I am an old one. Constantinos who suggests a "World without Quanta" is happy since Ken Wharton wrote "Quantum theory without Quantization". Andrey Akhmeteli also mentioned what Ken called Boundary -Induced Quantization when he wrote: spectral lines ... are not discrete, as natural line width is finite. I promised already in my abstract new light on quantization and apparent symmetries. However, I am not sure whether or not someone like you is willing and able to accordingly interpret my results. If not, do not hesitate asking me for details.



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Peter Jackson wrote on Feb. 24, 2011 @ 14:58 GMT

Great essay, particularly for a last minute panic! I agree entirely with your postulates, and you'll find my own essay (2020 vision) explores many consequences for proof from Nature, which proves endless. (last years dealt with the conceptual principle).

Yet in reading your essay one thing did re-arise in my mind. Energy propagation does need localised 'particles' to change characteristics. I have been working with diffraction by plasma, but the same is true of an aerial. last year I conceptually considered the oscillator of an FM radio. 'c' is used as a constant LOCALLY to change the wave form to the original by imposing the original frequency, even if the signals arrive (more properly at an aerial) moving at plus or minus thousands of mph. i.e. in a different inertial frame. The ways of describing the same thing also prove endless, I believe only as it is, at last, truth.

I do hope you have time to read and comment on the viewpoint of my own reality based essay. If you wish I'll pass you some viXra links to my earlier work and experiments on waves.

Best of luck


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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Mar. 1, 2011 @ 05:09 GMT
Dear Marty,

I felt like cheering as I read your essay. Both your analysis and intuitions are -in my view- spot on. I have come to very similar conclusions as yours about the wrongness of the point-photon assumption, which I have presented in the first sections of my fqxi essay in this contest. Your electrical-engineering approach is very useful here because, as Maxwell theorized (before Einstein so cleverly and so wrongly banished it) space is most probably made up of a dielectric ether. Hertz went further and felt that everything including space and matter are made up of such an ether. I have presented such a model in my earlier 2005 Beautiful Universe (BU) paper and summarized its tenets in the second part of my present fqxi paper. In my theory rather than being just waves, radiation is a wave field of angular momentum occurring in a lattice of point nodes rotating in place - hence the duality that manifests itself in macroscopic experiments.

I say 'good luck to us' - we have to contend with a century's-worth of physics that is right for the wrong reasons!

Alan, the helical screw concept is a nice idea (I like the animation) but it sounds like a version of the 'pilot waves' theorized by de Broglie to explain the presumed point-photon's behavior. Please refer to Fig. 8 of the (BU) paper above for another sort of helical motion - when a circularly polarized e/m pulse is propagated in the lattice. Best wishes, and as Ray say, have fun!


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Marty Green replied on Mar. 2, 2011 @ 15:35 GMT
Thanks, Vladimir. I'm glad you liked my essay. I read your essay with some trepidation because I am wary of attempts to completely revolutionize the basic paradigms of physics. But I have to say that in the end, it was by no means a waste of time for me because I found you challenge the imagination in some interesting ways. I don't have much interest in theories that break up space into a lattice of discrete points, as you argue; but your pictures and examples can, in most cases, also describe an analog space where the properties of the lattice points vary continuously. You have a few instances where this correspondnece becomes invalid, eg. where you allow adjacent lattice points to be oppositely polarized. I'm not sufficiently motivated to really think long and hard about those particular cases. But your visual descriptions were nevertheless thought-provoking to me, because they suggest different ways that you can have a continuously-varying function of space other than simply a scalar, a vector, or a (stree-like) tensor.

I hope you'll check out my blog at



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Vladimir F. Tamari replied on Mar. 5, 2011 @ 10:32 GMT
Thanks Marty for reading my paper and for your encouraging comments. As I do not present the theory as complete or proven, the fact that you say it is thought-provokong makes it worthwhile for me to have written it. As I have mentioned in my fqxi essay (but not in the 2005 paper), it is also possible that discrete behavior can emerge from continuous regular functions whereby the hidden parts would be in other dimensions and we only see regular 'islands' of discrete points. I gave the example of an egg-crate surface. Did you mean 'stress-like tensor' ? Yes in GR Einstein incorporated his SR paradigm into the equations and I think that has complicated the theory unnecessarily. But again I can only offer my intuitions on that - if it is to work at all the whole thing has to be worked out and tested systematically from scratch. I wish I had the skill at quantitative analysis that you exhibit in your blog. Copy/paste the given blog address did not work, but this did: interesting range of topics there.

Best wishes


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Georgina Parry wrote on Mar. 11, 2011 @ 21:28 GMT
Dear Marty,

Really enjoyed this essay. Very clearly written and looking at a very important aspect of physics.I enjoyed reading your many insights into the subject. Lots of food for thought, which will take time to digest. Well done.

Good luck, Georgina.

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Marty Green replied on Mar. 12, 2011 @ 00:11 GMT
Hi Georgina

Thank you so much for reading my article. I checked out your essay and I thought you were very eloquent, but I think you understand I am working a very different territory from you. I also skimmed the feedback and I have to say I am somewhat jealous of the sense of community I detect among the requlars of fqxi. (I never heard of the website until I stumbled on the contest at the last minute.) I spend a lot of time on some other forums and I think I've already alluded to the fact they're not very friendly places. There is a tremendous value to me in the thought that I can be read and appreciated and that I'm not just posting words into an infinite vaccuum. So thanks again for the warm encouragement.


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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Mar. 12, 2011 @ 19:27 GMT

Just wanted to say again how much I enjoyed your paper and confirm your impression of fqxi. Almost everyone here comes with their own ideas to sell, and there isn't that much buying going on. But there are stimulating questions and arguments that help to clarify ideas. Like you, I came in at the end of the previous contest, and by the time it was over I had new friends.

This place is like some small towns I drove through in my youth. At the edge of town there was a sign that said:

"Welcome to fqxi-ville, home of 2000 friendly souls, and one or two old grouches."

So welcome to fqxi.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Steve Dufourny replied on Mar. 17, 2011 @ 10:58 GMT
:) :) :)"Welcome to fqxi-ville, home of 2000 friendly souls, and one or two old grouches."

Dear Marty pay attention me I am the young grouche crazzy of spheres but I evolve also.

You know here it's transparent, it's so important and here we put our real names.FqxI is revolutionary for the sciences community.Sometimes we garee, sometimes we disagree, we have our caracteres, our habits, our defaults...we are humans in fact.Someztimes we find friends, real firends, not a pseudo politness , no!a real friendship, sometimes we find critics, sometimes jealousy, a lot of vanities,it's the life.The transparence is super and wonderful.Anybody is betetr than his fellow man after all.....

Fqxi-ville ....don't forget the composting for an autarcic energy .....



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Peter Jackson wrote on Mar. 12, 2011 @ 18:07 GMT

I confirm I thought it and excellent essay, very enjoyable and some good points. I'd hoped you may read, comment and vote on mine, another 'amateur' fighting for attention among the specialist professionals.

It's consistent with Georgina and Vladimir's as you may see from the posts. Your concept of particles being needed for 'change' is one I will try to develop. But my solution, from logic and conceptualisation alone, is dramatic, fundamental, and seems shocking to most physicists, but about 1 in 4 now are seeing it!

I note I didn't put the link last time. I hope you get the chance in the last few days.

Very best of luck


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Chris Kennedy wrote on Mar. 12, 2011 @ 20:22 GMT

Good points. In my essay, I ask (since the quantum wave is representative of the electron in the double slit and the interference pattern is the same for photons): Is there a wave-particle-wave triality? If so, how do all three relate?


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James Lee Hoover wrote on Mar. 13, 2011 @ 00:52 GMT

I enjoyed your essay not only because it was well-argued but also selfishly because we seem to share somewhat minority ideas.


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James Putnam wrote on Mar. 14, 2011 @ 22:58 GMT
Marty Green,

Hi, I gave you a very high rating. I think your essay belongs in the top 35. Unfortunately, my rating was given several days ago and it did put you in that group. Now, however, you are back down and I cannot help again except to say that I liked your essay.


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