Shortly after I started this blog two and a half years ago, I came up with the idea of Quantum Siphoning, a causal mechanism to explain the "collapse of the wave function". At that time I was planning a trip to Eastern Canada for later in the summer, and so I wrote letters to some two hundred physics professors, enclosing a link to my article and asking them if they would be interested in meeting with me to discuss it. I received a positive response from Prof. John Sipe of the University of Toronto, who was good enough to offer me a full hour of his time.
Professor Sipe obviously moves in circles where he regularly has the opportunity to discuss physics at the highest level with all kinds of brilliant people, so it would be presumptuous of me to think I could have made much of an impression on him. But the meeting was very exciting for me, and I was very much on my game. I think I held up my end of the discussion to the fullest extent of my abilities, and I have to say that Professor Sipe gave me his fullest attention for the whole hour. We touched on the possibility of him taking me on as a grad student, but he told me that although he publishes work in "Foundations" (that's what they call the philosophical underpinning s of Quantum Mechanics), he does not accept students in that field. So basically we spent the hour talking physics.
I told him that I was interested in developing natural explanations for the major phenomena which were traditionally called upon to justify the present-day Copenhagen-inspired interpretation of quantum mechanics. I listed what I considered to be the six most influential of these phenomena:
1. The black-body spectrum.
2. The photo-electric effect.
3. The Compton effect.
4. The discrete clicks in the Geiger counter.
5. The flecks of silver on a photographic plate exposed to weak light.
6. The straight-line paths observed in cloud chambers.
What these phenomena share in common is that they all purport to illustrate situations where the physics is completely described by differential equations (what we commonly call "wave equations") but the visible manifestations of these phenomena are inexplicable without ascribing some sort of particle-like behavior to the waves. In several of these instances, that behavior is best characterized as what we call the "collapse of the wave function". Whereas a differential equation by its very nature describes a disturbance as propagating in a natural and continuous manner through time and space, the experiments seem to show the sudden and random occurence of discontinuities in these otherwise well-behaved functions.
I think I am correct in claiming that in the late 1920's, when the great struggles were taking place in Copenhagen, Goettingen, Berlin and elsewhere to try and come to terms with the new quantum mechanics of Schroedinger and Heisenberg, that any explanation would have had to deal with each of these six subjects. Taken as a whole, they constituted the litmus test for any proposed paradigm. And the most prominent victim of that litmus test was of course the wave theory of light.
I told Professor Sipe that my goal was to re-habilitate the wave theory of light by showing how it was compatible with all six experiments in my list. And that was what we talked about for an hour. I'll tell you more about our meeting when we return.