In my last post, I talked about my meeting with Prof. John Sipe at the U of T two years ago. In our meeting, I had listed six phenomena which I considered the "litmus test" for any interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. In particular, if you want to challenge the Copenhagen Interpretation, you must be able to explain these phenomena.
At the end of our meeting, I claimed to have explained five of the six phenomena on my list by means of ordinary time-evolution of the wave function, avoiding any type of collapse, probability or quantum leap type of events. Professor Sipe didn't really question the correctness of my explanations. His real objection was that I hadn't brought forth anything particularly new or ground-breaking. In particular he said that:
1. There were many well-knwon semi-classical explanations for the Compton effect, including the obvious vxB force which clearly transfers momentum from an e-m wave to an electron.
2. The operation of a Geiger Counter was no more than a type of photo-electric effect, for which many authorities had already published semi-classical explanations.
Since we were out of time, I told Professor Sipe that I would write him a letter answering these objections. Here is what I wrote him:
"A few points came up that I was not able to deal with at the time, but I have
had a chance to think them over and would like to give you my viewpoint. First
of all, there was the idea that you can explain the Compton effect with a v x b
type of argument. At the time I said it was an awful explanation and I'm even
more convinced after thinking it over, especially when you contrast it with the
multilayer diffraction grating (?) model of Schroedinger.
"There are so
many flaws in the v x b argument that it is hard to know where to begin. For one
thing it gives a smeared-out frequency spectrum for the scattered light. Since
the electron is slowly and gradually accelerated by successive wavefront
impulses, the doppler frequency shift of the re-radiated light is constantly
changing. Compare this with the Schroedinger picture where you get interaction
between the light and particle waves only when they have identical wavelengths
(COM reference frame). The frequency shift in the scattered light comes out
perfectly and cleanly.
"There are a host of problems with the vxb argument
and they all stem essentially from trying to mix apples and oranges: the light
is a wave but what is the electron, a tiny charged ping-pong ball? How does the
vxb argument account for glancing collisions where the light and electron move
off at different angles? Most seriously, if the electron is a point charge, then
once it is set in motion by the incoming e-m wave, it re-radiates spherically.
This spherical radiation cannot possibly cancel out the incoming e-m wave: only
a plane-wave-versus-plane-wave (photon vs electron) system can do
"More importantly there was the question of why I think my
explanation of the geiger counter offers a fundamentally new paradigm as opposed
to the existing semi-classical explanations of the photo-electric effect.
Superficially these phenomena might seem to have much in common: there are two
metal plates, and an electron is freed from one and captured at the other.
"In fact, so far as I know the existing semi-classical arguments have one
fundamental weakness: at some point or another, they invoke the Born Postulate.
Mott does it in explaining the straight line cloud tracks. Jaynes does it (so
far as I understand) for the photoelectric effect to explain prompt emission. I
have a paper by Ballentine in front of me where he proudly dismisses the need
for the "collapse of the wave function" by showing how the probability
interpretation (the Born Postulate) handles everything. My question is: what is
the Born Postulate if not just a rephrasing of the Wave Function Collapse, which
in itself was just a rehash of Bohr's original Quantum Leap? To me they are all
"Furthermore, I don't think people working in this field would
equate the geiger effect and the photo-electric effect. Schroedinger himself was
confident in his wave explanation of the photo-electric, but Born and Heisenberg
at least made the Geiger Counter example a centerpiece of their argument against
Schroedinger's picture. Bitbol discusses this at some length in the very first
chapter of his book (Schroedinger's Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics) and I
believe when he quotes Schroedinger has expressing "the hope that the future
will solve this riddle in a satisfactory way" (p. 10), that it is precisely the
Geiger Counter problem that he is talking about. He's certainly not talking
about the photo-electric effect.
"If Schroedinger had thought that the
geiger counter could be explained via the natural time-evolution of the wave
function, as I have explained it, he would not have written his famous paper of
1935 (the Cat paper). My explanation of the Geiger Counter mechanism effectively
answers the question of Schroedinger's Cat because it shows that while the radon
and radium atoms are in a superposition, continuously emmiting alpha and gamma
waves, that the clicking of the geiger counter is a classically discrete event
which is randomly (in the classical sense of "randomly") stimulated by the
continuous low-intesity irradiation of the gas in the geiger counter. So the
dead and the live cat are never entangled with the radon/radium
"In summary, if anyone else has already come up with my
mechanism for Quantum Siphoning, then the explanation for Schroedinger's Cat
would have followed as night follows day. I do not believe such an explanation
would have gone unnoticed in even the popular literature, and therefore I am
quite sure that my explanation is original."